For the last three years the Seattle Seahawks had Russell Wilson on a rookie contract, which allowed them to spend money on other areas of the roster.
It was a huge advantage over other NFL teams that have to spend a significant portion of their salary cap on established quarterbacks, but it’s about to come to an end.
Wilson is a free agent after the 2015 season. He’s widely expected to sign a new contract this offseason. Most anticipate that it will be worth more than $US100 million, and possibly make him the highest-paid quarterback in the league.
It’s a move the Seahawks have to make, but it’s everyone knows it’s going to hurt their ability to improve some of their weaknesses (wide receivers) and retain their free agents (Byron Maxwell, for one).
That’s why it’s interesting to hear Seahawks GM Brian Schneider suggest that Wilson would be willing to think “outside the box” to agree to a contract that helps the team keep winning.
“I think Russell Wilson wants to win championships. We talk about being a consistent championship-calibre football team, and that means thinking outside the box a lot of times. We will do that with Russell. Russell knows there are certain dominoes that have to fall in line or fall in place.”
Not all $US100 million contracts are created equal. Depending on how the team structures Wilson’s signing bonus and annual base salaries, they can minimize his initial cap hit and free up some money to spend elsewhere in 2015.
The New Orleans Saints provided a good example of this sort of thing last year when they gave Jairus Byrd an extremely back-loaded contract that allowed them salary cap flexibility in the early years of the deal. That big cap hit is coming down the road, but the way the deal is structured gives the team some financial breathing room in the short term.
Another comparison might be Tom Brady, who has restructured his contract over and over again throughout his career so that the team had salary cap room to make other moves.
Wilson made less than $US1 million in 2014. He’s stands to make 20-times per year in his next contract, and the way Seattle structures it will dictate much of what other offseason moves they can make.
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