Unlike the 49ers, the Seahawks don’t have to worry about placating their young, underpriced quarterback with a new contract. By rule, Russell Wilson must wait one more year before getting a new contract.
But other members of the Seattle team are eligible for renegotiated contracts. Leading the way after Super Bowl XLVIII will be cornerback Richard Sherman and safety Earl Thomas.
Sherman, a fifth-round pick in 2011, has completed the third year of his rookie deal. One year away from free agency, the outspoken Sherman surely will be saying plenty about what he deserves — especially if he makes another clutch play to secure the franchise’s first-ever championship.
It’ll be hard to pay Sherman without rewarding safety Earl Thomas. The first-round pick in 2010 has a year left on his rookie deal, with a base salary of $3.725 million due in 2014.
Beyond Sherman and Thomas, cornerback Walter Thurmond becomes a free agent in March. And cornerback Byron Maxwell is in the same position as Sherman, with three years of service under a late-round 2011 rookie deal.
Complicating matters for the Seahawks has been a willingness to pay big money to guys who got started elsewhere, and who haven’t lived up to the investment. Receiver Percy Harvin got a $12 million signing bonus last year after a trade with the Vikings, and he’ll receive $36 million over three years. To date, Harvin has appeared in two games.
Two years earlier, the Seahawks signed receiver Sidney Rice to a big-money deal after his Minnesota contract expired. Due to make $8.5 million in 2014 and coming off a torn ACL, Rice likely won’t be back without a major reduction.
Regardless of what happens with Rice, players who have yet to get paid big money will remember the investments made in guys who had previously done nothing for the Seahawks. The time is coming for the Seahawks to reward the players who have earned their money not via exploits with other teams, but by delivering results in Seattle.