During the Seattle Seahawks’ run to the Super Bowl, several reports came out that the Seahawks were expected to give Russell Wilson a record-breaking contract extension this offseason.
Several estimates suggested the extension would land north of $US100 million, and NFL.com’s Ian Rappaport reported that Wilson’s extension may even be fully guaranteed. ESPN Seahawks reporter Terry Blount said in March that the two sides were “very close” to agreeing to the extension.
Since then, there seems to have been an impasse between Wilson’s camp and the Seahawks.
In late March, CBS’ Jason La Canfora reported that Wilson was preparing to play out the 2015 season on the last year of his rookie deal, which pays a pretty minuscule $US1.5 million this season. La Canfora said he had heard that the two sides hadn’t made progress on a deal.
On April 15, Seahawks GM John Schneider appeared on “The Dori Monson Show” on KIRO radio in Seattle and added to the speculation, suggesting that the Seahawks wouldn’t go too high to pay Wilson.
“Every negotiation is unique in and of itself and this is no different,” Schneider said. “Ultimate team sport, he’s our quarterback, we’d love him to be our quarterback. But the thing is, we need to keep as many of these guys together as we possibly can.”
Schneider continued, talking about the need to manage the team’s salary cap:
“When we got here [in January 2010] we had to make some very tough cap decisions with Cory Redding and Nate Burleson. They were two guys that we had a lot of respect for, but where we were on our cap at the time, we had to make decisions. And then we had a couple years without a cap and now we’re back in a world with a salary cap and we need to be cognisant of that.”
Schneider’s comments don’t evoke a lot of confidence that the Seahawks will do whatever is necessary to keep Wilson.
Friday morning, La Canfora reported again that the two sides are far apart, saying:
Wilson won’t be taking anything perceived to be below value, or a band-aid contract. The sides were coming to the table with some differing philosophies and this was not, and is not, going to be an easy negotiation.
But reading the tea leaves just a little, and talking to enough informed people, gives one the sense that there are some fundamental tenets on both sides that don’t equate now, and frankly that kind of gulf might only be bridged, if it’s going to be bridged, by Wilson (due to make just $US1.5 million this season) going out and having another stellar season and continuing to build his case as a truly elite franchise quarterback.
La Canfora does also mention that there is still plenty of time for an extension to get done, even if the sides are far apart.
In the meantime, Wilson has posted some seemingly ominous tweets about respect:
“Did you really think you could keep a guy like me down?”Tony Montana
— Russell Wilson (@DangeRussWilson) April 9, 2015
RESPECT is when you hold something or someone in high regard……
— Russell Wilson (@DangeRussWilson) April 14, 2015
Before this latest breakdown, there was a suggestion that Wilson’s extension would have to wait because the arrival of Jimmy Graham complicated the Seahawks’ payroll. However, that idea preceded the reports in late March that the Seahawks and Wilson were close.
If the two sides can’t come to an agreement, Wilson would play out this season and then become a free agent in 2016. The Seahawks would have the opportunity to place the franchise tag on Wilson, which could pay him north of $US20 million per season — the franchise tag of quarterbacks in 2015 is $US18.5 million.
The Seahawks have had plenty of cap room to give some other players big contracts over the last two years, partly because Wilson was making the rookie minimum. That’s about the end one way or another.
If Wilson hits the free agent market because the Seahawks are unwilling to commit long term to such high contract figures, several other teams would be willing to throw Wilson a huge contract.
While Wilson may have to go through 2015 playing on a relative bargain, it’s only a matter of time until he gets paid like one of the NFL’s best quarterbacks.
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