Contract negotiations between Russell Wilson and the Seattle Seahawks have been ominously quiet this offseason.
Though it was reported early in 2015 that the Seahawks were looking to give Wilson a contract extension “bigger and crazier” than anything in the NFL — with some estimates between $US126 million and $US132 million — it now seems the two sides are far apart.
Danny O’Neil of 710 ESPN Seattle reports that the Seahawks’ current offer to Wilson is a four-year, $US80 million extension, far short of he wants and expects. Kelly says the two sides are “closer to 10s of millions” apart on a salary number.
CBS’s Jason La Canfora also reports that the Seahawks are offering Wilson a contract that’s comparable that of Andy Dalton and Colin Kaepernick, not top-tier quarterbacks like Aaron Rodgers and Ben Roethlisberger.
La Canfora writes:
“What I know is the Seahawks’ initial offer looked very much like the sort of band-aid bridge contracts that went to Andy Dalton and Colin Kaepernick, according to sources, with signing bonuses more in line with the $US11 million Seattle handed out recently to Richard Sherman and Earl Thomas, and a pay-as-you-go structure like the lesser Dalton/Kaepernick deals. The average per year is nowhere close to the range of the top quarterbacks in the NFL, and with Ben Roethlisberger recently joining that club and Andrew Luck and Cam Newton poised to do the same in the next 12 months, I would be absolutely shocked if Wilson did any deal that wouldn’t put him among the best in the game.”
As O’Neil points out, you can understand the stalemate from both sides. For the Seahawks, paying Wilson $US20 million or more would take away their biggest competitive advantage — namely, their ability to use their salary cap money elsewhere because Wilson’s rookie contract is so cheap. With guys like Bobby Wagner up for new contracts, the Seahawks are trying to do everything they can to retain that advantage.
On the other hand, Wilson has had a historically successful run in his first three years in the NFL. No other quarterback has posted as many wins as Wilson or led their team to two Super Bowls in their first three years in the league. By accolades alone, Wilson may be one of the NFL’s best quarterbacks, and he’s within his right to want to be paid as such.
However, according to La Canfora, the negotiations have been so fruitless that the extension may not happen at all. Though training camp is over two months away, the two sides are so far apart that La Canfora believes Wilson would table negotiations altogether to focus on the season.
If the Seahawks and Wilson don’t reach an extension this summer, the Seahawks may have to place the franchise tag on Wilson in 2016 (and maybe even 2017), which would pay him about $US25 million, according to La Canfora.
“And if he played that out, he could potentially hit free agency before age 30, he would have finally made some real NFL money over two seasons, and, if he stays on anything close to the career arc he has been on, you’re looking at potentially the most coveted free agent in NFL history.”
There’s no doubt Wilson is going to get paid in the near future — it’s a matter of when and by which team.
Of course, months ago, it seemed like his record-breaking extension was close to being done. With several more months left in the offseason, negotiations could take a positive turn as quickly as they took a negative turn.
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