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Contracts make it easy to start Wilson, bench Flynn


The shock regarding the Seahawks’ decision to go with third-round rookie Russell Wilson as the starting quarterback has been exacerbated by the perception that the Seahawks spent a ton of money on presumed starter Matt Flynn.

Here’s the thing.  They didn’t.

Flynn received a signing bonus of $6 million and a guaranteed base salary of $2 million in 2012.  While not peanuts, it’s less than 50 percent of the top of the market.

Things get interesting in 2013, when Flynn has another fully guaranteed $2 million but a non-guaranteed total salary of $5.25 million.

Still, it’s not an excessive amount to give to a backup, especially since the starter is, by rule, locked in to his rookie contract for at least three full seasons.  Wilson received a signing bonus of only $619,472, not much more than 10 percent of Flynn’s signing bonus.  And Wilson earn base salaries of $390,000, $526,217, and $662,434 over the next three seasons.

That’s a total of $2.198 million for three years — three years! — as a starter.  And Wilson can’t ask for more until after the 2014 season because the Seahawks can’t give him more.

That’s one of the biggest problems with the new rookie wage scale.  While it prevents highly-drafted unproven players from being paid too much, it fails to compensate players who are taken lower in the process from being compensated for overachieving their draft slots.

So, as quarterback budgets go, the Seahawks will be paying a lot less than most other teams.

For more about the quarterback decision in Seattle and various other Seahawks-related issues, here’s our chat from PFT Live with Curtis Crabtree of KJR radio.

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51 Responses to “Contracts make it easy to start Wilson, bench Flynn”
  1. tigers182 says: Aug 27, 2012 9:44 PM

    Has any player ever made so much money off 1 game as Flynn?

  2. mrpickled says: Aug 27, 2012 9:47 PM

    Flynn week 3

  3. ketch20too says: Aug 27, 2012 9:48 PM

    Oh that Pete Carroll and John Schneider…what buffoons…over paying for a FA QB…oh wait…never mind… AT some point, all the haters will simply have to admit that these two are doing things right and have the Hawks on the fast track to prominence. Amazing given the mountain excrement Tim Ruskell left for them to clean up.

  4. trollhammer20 says: Aug 27, 2012 9:48 PM

    This year, Seattle is paying Flynn and Wilson, combined. less that what Kevin Kolb will make ($7 million roster bonus + salary).

    It’s also right around the exact same amount they were paying Jackon and Whitehurst combined last year.

    This fan likes the current front office.

  5. clubergo says: Aug 27, 2012 9:52 PM

    If Anyone else watched Gruden’s QB Camp you wouldn’t be surprised..Flynn was signed after every other team passed.. The Fins don’t count as a team.. PC/JS tagged him all along to start.. but they needed to slowly bring it along..I.E.. this is going to be a process..and we have a plan…Yes Pete haters they did and the plan is to score more than you allow..And Chucky is Smiling

  6. ilovecameltoes says: Aug 27, 2012 9:54 PM

    Russell Wilson will be good, and eventually be a solid starting Qb in this league! What a steal it was, good up’s Seattle..

  7. jimmysee says: Aug 27, 2012 9:58 PM

    Flynn’s already proven he’s an A+++ #2 — so what are people complaining about?!

    The Seahawks went from -zero- decent QBs last year to two today.

    That’s pretty remarkable!

    PLUS —- they unloaded their #3 to the Bills for a draft pick.


  8. theworldbestrealitycheck says: Aug 27, 2012 10:00 PM

    gotta love it. This is why I’m on board with the chances they take

  9. jetsrkillinme says: Aug 27, 2012 10:01 PM

    When it’s all said and done, every team spends the same about the same amount (by rule), and they all are playing the same contract games.

  10. ghostshock says: Aug 27, 2012 10:07 PM

    Thank you for not being a lazy journalist and saying that Matt Flynn is getting 3 years and $26.5 million.

    He’s not. Not even close. He’s making $4 million this year (which is the going rate for good backup QBs) and is guaranteed to hit the cap for $4 million next year and $2 million in 2014. Not exactly a budget breaker for a QB…

    The deal includes $5 million in escalators and $2 million in incentives, so, essentially, it’s a 3 year, $19.5 deal for a solid backup QB who may be an above-average starter. I don’t see how people find an issue with that. That’s $6.5 million a year, folks. And that’s only if he isn’t cut or traded.

  11. taskforcefreddy says: Aug 27, 2012 10:07 PM

    Everyone forgets Flynn’s performance against the Pats in 2010. Even though the pack lost, the game itself was a launching point for the run the Packers made as they won out the rest of the year on the way to the Super Bowl.

  12. k0mbucha says: Aug 27, 2012 10:07 PM

    tigers182 says: Aug 27, 2012 9:44 PM

    Has any player ever made so much money off 1 game as Flynn?


    Scott Mitchell
    Rob Johnson and a few others I forget. You can even add Kevin Kolb to that list considering he only started about 4 or 5 games for the Eagles before fleecing the Cardinals

  13. samwade611 says: Aug 27, 2012 10:12 PM

    *flynn lol

  14. seahawksdan72 says: Aug 27, 2012 10:13 PM

    pete and john are doing a hell of a job.i see alot of people bashing them,but just wait and see what happens.the have turned this team and roster into a bunch of winners that play hard for him.but remember that doesnt work in the nfl,just college GO HAWKS

  15. dallascowboysdishingthereal says: Aug 27, 2012 10:19 PM

    Two very good QBs for the money. Not convinced that Flynn will remain on the bench the whole season.

  16. medtxpack says: Aug 27, 2012 10:24 PM

    Seattle is smart. They got two great playmakers for relatively cheap.

    But lets not discount what Flynn brings as well being a backup, he KNOWS how to do it. Hes done it twice, against two teams that were not lackluster in their performance either. Ol Pete set himself up well.

  17. spankygreen says: Aug 27, 2012 10:46 PM

    Flynn week 3……So says Mr Pickled….lol

    Sir, not only will you not see Flynn in wk 3, he may not be around for wk 1…..At this point he is trade bait.
    Flynn had 1 good game against a weak team and you none football minded idiots thought he was the next coming. I think some idiot even mentioned elite….yeah…..1 good game does not, I repeat, does not make you a good QB…..

    The fact that it was an open competition told me that Flynn was not going to be the answer in Seattle or anywhere for that matter.

    He did however get a nice chunk of change……

  18. dolphindubs says: Aug 27, 2012 10:56 PM

    Uhhhh…its not like $2.198 million over three years is chump change. Id say he’s making out pretty decent. Sure, its not big-time Brees or Manning money, but I’m guessing he’ll be able to pay his bills.

  19. dirtyvu says: Aug 27, 2012 11:03 PM

    the NFL rookie scale has always been unfair. the only difference now is the cap on how much the top picks can make. take a case like MJD. because he fell to the second round, he has always been underpaid at every contract level. Reggie Bush was drafted the same year as MJD. While MJD has outperformed Bush since they entered the league, MJD’s current contract is less than Bush’s first rookie contract. his rookie contract, MJD made nearly nothing. And because contracts are scaled with seniority, Bush will always make more than MJD no matter true production.

  20. usmutts says: Aug 27, 2012 11:06 PM

    I like Wilson (though I think Flynn is better right now) but it cannot be said at this point that he is being under compensated for overachieving his draft slot. Although he has been exciting in pre-season non-games, he hasn’t yet played one down of real meaningful NFL football. He has achieved nothing yet, much less overachieved. And I hope he does well. It’s a great story so far.

  21. nflofficeadmin says: Aug 27, 2012 11:06 PM

    They haven’t played a regular season game yet, it’s a bit premature to even suggest that Wilson has achieved beyond his rookie contract. C’mon Michael!

  22. thelastpieceofcheese says: Aug 27, 2012 11:07 PM

    Let me get this straight.

    The Seahawks will not start Flynn, their star quarterback, because they’ll save money playing third-round rookie Russell Wilson.


  23. fumblenuts says: Aug 27, 2012 11:12 PM

    Look at the eyes of Russell Wilson when on the field……this dude is ALL BUSINESS.

  24. webothlose says: Aug 27, 2012 11:21 PM

    I think it’s smart to look at Whitehurst as part of what SEA is really losing here. They swapped 2010 2nd RD picks and gave up a 2011 3rd, while signing Whitehurst to a 2 year $8mill contract. SEA then signs T. Jackson to a 2/$8mill contract. So in 2011, that was $8mill for the Jackson/Whitehurst duo, and the loss of a 3rd pick.

    It might not seem like much, but we’re talking 3 years of QB instability (I’m doubting Wilson wows this year) at top money and the loss of a 3rd Rd pick.

    And when you’re starting QB was a 3rd Rd pick, you can’t say it was inconsequential.

  25. tdshouldbeinthehall says: Aug 27, 2012 11:23 PM

    Who’s shocked? It was clear as day.

  26. thegreatonesays says: Aug 27, 2012 11:27 PM

    Anyone who thinks Seattle is a pushover will be in for a rude awakening. I still think San Francisco clearly wins the division again but I think it will be a lot more competitive and is no more than 2 years from frequently sending 2 teams to the playoffs again. The west is on the rise folks

  27. sixburghrules says: Aug 27, 2012 11:37 PM

    Wrong it does not prohibit them giving a bigger contract. They can give him any kind of contract they want to as long as they both agree!

  28. Mike Florio says: Aug 27, 2012 11:42 PM

    The new CBA prevents renegotiation of rookie contracts for three years.

  29. tialen says: Aug 27, 2012 11:56 PM

    that is the odd thing about the new rookie wage scale, you would have thought they would have put a provision in there to be able to escalate a 2nd – 7th round drafty based on performance (x % of starts in real games etc).. as it is, they get royally screwed, considering that most nfl careers are only 3 to 4 years.

  30. Rams76h says: Aug 27, 2012 11:56 PM

    If Wilson plays in 35% of the teams offensive plays for 2 of his first three years, his 4th year base salary will increase by $600,000 or so. There is something called the Proven Performance Escalator in the new collective bargaining agreement and is included with every contract of players drafted in rounds 3-7. It involves a complicated formula to come up with the amount of the raise.

  31. showside says: Aug 27, 2012 11:59 PM

    Seattle will win 5 games this year at best.

  32. duffer58 says: Aug 28, 2012 12:04 AM

    Flynn made money off of TWO games not one. The first being at New England in 2010. What happens with Wilson who knows. But Flynn is better then what Arizona,Miami,Cleveland,Jacksonvlille, and Minnesota have right now.

  33. joenash72 says: Aug 28, 2012 12:05 AM

    I remember reading on this site a few years back about guys that excelled getting extra money. It wasn’t huge $$$, something like $30 $40 $50 grand etc etc but I remember it the article pointing-out it was a substantial amount for lower-drafted guys, as a percentage of what they got per their contract.

    Did that system go away with the new CBA ?

  34. tdk24 says: Aug 28, 2012 1:33 AM

    They sure like spending money on backup QB’s.

  35. txnative61 says: Aug 28, 2012 1:49 AM

    There is a long list of Super Bowl winning QB’s drafted in the lower rounds. Tarkington and Brees are also good examples of successful smallish QB’s. That said, unless Seattle puts together a great line in front of him, Wilson’s durability playing with the big boys could have Flynn starting before the season ends, regardless. Not easy to find a SB quality QB, but if Seattle keeps spinning the wheel, they may hit on one, and still have the money to put a team around him.

  36. tluke25 says: Aug 28, 2012 3:34 AM

    If anybody watched Gruden’s QB Camp, they might remember that Gruden was over the moon for this kid. In all the seasons Gruden has done the show, I don’t think I ever saw him so giddy over a projected mid round talent.

    Chucky has to be grinning from ear to ear right now saying, “I told you guys so”!

  37. iamcline says: Aug 28, 2012 4:19 AM

    We’ll see what Flynn is doing Week 3. Preseason is an illusion. Most quarterbacks are going to look good in the Preseason.

  38. discosucs2005 says: Aug 28, 2012 6:04 AM

    I originally thought the Flynn signing was a huge mistake after they named Wilson the starter. I think I was wrong though, and it has nothing to do with the money.

    I think one of the reasons Wilson was able to be so successful in camp/preseason is because he didn’t have pressure on him because of Flynn. He could just play his best knowing he had no where to go but up.

    Even the most diluted Seahawks fan would think this was intentional but luck plays a part in everything and the willingness to play the guy who isn’t getting the most money is what makes this one of the better handled QB competitions in awhile.

  39. ronrob69 says: Aug 28, 2012 7:10 AM

    All I can say is that I am glad Seattle got him. I would much rather have Tannehill more so than Flynn. Now, let’s hope he plays well. Go Dolphins!!!

  40. AlanSaysYo says: Aug 28, 2012 7:15 AM

    So it’s OK to hand out a bad contract to a backup as long as you underpay your starter.

    That’s some interesting logic.

  41. ghostofspeedyduncan says: Aug 28, 2012 7:54 AM

    Wow, great job Pete. That’s even less than u paid Reggie Bush at USC

  42. justafanofitall says: Aug 28, 2012 8:14 AM

    First of all I think Flynn will be the starter during the 1st game or at least the 2nd. But that being said….wonder if Flynn wishes he’d taken the contract with Miami as it was a system he was familiar with and with Seattle has to learn a new one. Interesting in three years if Wilson is the real deal what’ll happen to Flynn (based on him playing well again if Wilson gets hurt). Do they keep him or let him go as GB did.

  43. billh1947 says: Aug 28, 2012 8:49 AM

    Wilson will prove he is no Cam Newton when it comes to great rookie starting quarterbacks,once the action heats up for real and defenses have time to scheme his offense Wilson will make enough crucial mistakes to make the Seahags very happy they have an experienced Flynn ready to get the train back on the track.I give Wilson three games to make the coaches rethink their choice at QB.

  44. cardiovascularendurance says: Aug 28, 2012 9:42 AM

    I feel really bad for that 22 year old kid that will only make $2million in the first 3 years of his career. How will he even survive?!!?

  45. circuscivics says: Aug 28, 2012 9:43 AM

    Why am I seeing comments about the “experienced” Flynn. What, after two fill-ins where he put up good yards, but still had 5 picks. Kevin Kolb anyone? Now, who would know who performed better in camp and against live action better than the Seahawks coaching staff. I think i’d give them the benefit of the doubt over a couple armchaired GMs. I doubt coaches would pick a QB over personal preference. It is about who they believe will win them games. Considering most coaches are basically on a year-to-year contract anyway. It is an idictment on Flynn why allowed a rook to beat him, not to mention his former OC wasn’t that impressed with him.

  46. bobnelsonjr says: Aug 28, 2012 10:54 AM

    Don’t be so sure once Flynn gets back from his injury.

  47. trollhammer20 says: Aug 28, 2012 11:28 AM

    Did you know that of the last eight rookie QBs to start for their teams from game one, five have finished with winning records on the season?

  48. footballfan71 says: Aug 28, 2012 1:21 PM

    First, for everyone who thinks that the Hawks overpaid for Flynn, as you see now they didn’t. Also, the FA market was driving the price on Flynn, not the Seahawks. Any team would have to pay that price, possibly more, to sign him. They needed an upgrade at QB, and he was available.

    Second, Flynn was never brought in as the guarateed started – only a hopeful one. The media anointed him as the #1. If it was just between TJack and Flynn, I hope Flynn would win out. But by luck, the Seahawks drafted a rookie with hunger and passion to play the game. Hell, give him a shot and let’s see what happens. Having a back-up like Flynn is not a bad 2nd option. And earning less per season than the previous backup Whitehurst was making.

    Maybe this will put some fire under Flynn and he can start making some improvements. Nothing is guaranteed. Still need to earn your spot.

  49. vanyesno says: Aug 28, 2012 3:37 PM

    thelastpieceofcheese says: Aug 27, 2012 11:07 PM

    Let me get this straight.

    The Seahawks will not start Flynn, their star quarterback, because they’ll save money playing third-round rookie Russell Wilson.


    Let me get this straight…did you even read the article? They still have to pay the same amt for both doesn’t matter if flynn is starting or not. Money is not an issue for Paul Allen and his hawks so paying matt flynn to sit on the bench is nothing. I mean we paid $4 mill for clipboard jesus and TJax.

  50. seahawksbmx says: Aug 28, 2012 4:37 PM

    Don’t feel bad for Russell “only” making $2.2M for his first 3 years. America loves an underdog story and the endorsement coin is about to go through the roof once this kid starts lighting it up. RW hits the lottery on 9/24, MNF vs. the Packers.

    Thanks for your concern, but he’s going to be just fine.

  51. oprk says: Jan 24, 2013 7:37 AM

    I don’t know why teams point to his $7.25 cap hit as a reason we’d cut Flynn. His pro-rated signing bonus of $2m would still count against, as would his $2m of the $5.25m he’s owed in 2013 with it being guaranteed.

    Pay a guy a $4m cap hit to walk away from a $7.25m cap hit? Not likely.

    In reality, you’re only paying a $3.25m difference if you keep him as a backup in comparison to what your cap hit is if you cut him for nothing and are left with no backup, and $3.25 is below average for a top backup. The difference is what matters because the signing bonus and guaranteed money would hit the cap anyways if he were cut. We paid more than $3.25m `each` to Whitehurst and Tarvaris the year before last. As was pointed out earlier, $8m to Russell/Flynn next year is better than $8m to Tarvaris/Whitehurst the year before.

    Sorry to those that thought Flynn would be dropped off at the free agent pool but we’ll be glad to have him back for one more year unless we get an offer that our front office feels makes our team better than retaining him as our #2.

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