What Russell Wilson is risking if he turns down a $21 million per year contract

The latest reports on the negotiations between Russell Wilson and the Seattle Seahawks say he has turned down a contract worth close to $US21 million per year, a deal that would make him one of the NFL’s five-highest-paid players.

If Wilson does play out the final year of his entry-level contract — he has set a deadline for the start of training camp later the week — he will be taking a risk playing on what is essentially a one-year, $US1.5 million deal while rejecting what is likely in the neighbourhood of five-years, $US104 million.

However, that risk starts to minimise next year. If Wilson does not sign a new contract, the Seahawks can give him the franchise tag for up to three seasons. If Wilson plays the 2016 (projected salary of $US25.2 million) and 2017 ($US30.2 million) seasons under franchise tags, he would make ~$US56.9 million over the next three years, just shy of the ~$US62.3 million he’d make with a contract that pays him $US20.8 million per year.

Things get tricky after 2017. The Seahawks could use a third franchise tag, but it would come with a whopping 44% raise over his 2017 salary, which would be something in the neighbourhood of $US43.5 million for one year.

That is unlikely to happen, which means Wilson would probably become a free agent after the 2017 season if he goes year-to-year. If Wilson hits free agency, the sky is the limit considering how many teams would love to have a 29-year-old Super Bowl-winning quarterback.

In other words, if Wilson can get through the 2015 season, Wilson can really cash-in long-term by not signing a new contract now.

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