Uncapped year could bail out Seattle

No salary cap equals no problem for teams that otherwise might be struggling to free themselves from burdensome contracts.

The Seahawks come to mind.

They were thrilled to add Patrick Kerney in free agency a few years ago. The move paid off right away, with Kerney collecting 14.5 sacks as Seattle claimed another division title in 2007. Landing marquee free agents generally requires paying a premium, however, and the Seahawks certainly paid one for Kerney.

With a salary cap this offseason, Kerney's deal would have counted nearly $8.3 million against the cap if he remained on the team and about $9.3 million if the team had released him. Those cap charges will no longer apply if, as expected, the NFL reaches March 5 without a new labor deal featuring a salary cap.

Kerney's deal carries more than $3 million in annual proration charges for 2010, 2011 and 2012. Those charges account for the $9.3 million Seattle would have to count against the 2010 cap for releasing him -- provided a cap existed.

Safety Deon Grant, another free-agent addition for Seattle in 2007, has a contract featuring more than $1.9 million in annual prorated bonus charges for 2010, 2011 and 2012. Those three charges totaling nearly $6 million would count against a salary cap all at once if the team decided to release him. Take away the cap, however, and those prorated charges cease to exist.

Teams that managed their salary caps more conservatively have less to gain from an uncapped year.

The timing is particularly unfortunate for the Rams. An uncapped year would have helped St. Louis last offseason when the team released several older, higher-price players as part of a massive roster overhaul. Those moves required the Rams to incur cap charges for players no longer on the roster, limiting their flexibility.

Having no cap does give the Rams more palatable options at quarterback. Quarterback Marc Bulger's deal would count $6 million against a salary cap if the team released him this offseason (compared to about $10.5 million if he stayed on the roster).