More than a week ago, Ian Rapoport of NFL Media reported that the Seahawks and quarterback Russell Wilson will pull the plug on contract negotiations if a deal isn’t done before training camp opens. On Monday, John Clayton and Jim Trotter of ESPN reported the same thing, with different words.
The real news (sort of) comes from the notion that the Seahawks are willing to pay Wilson a contract “worth slightly less” than the contract given earlier this year to Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who averages $21.85 million in new money. Over the weekend, both Rapoport and PFT reported that the Seahawks’ current offer is in the range of $21 million per year.
The sticking point, as Rapoport reported, arises from the signing bonus and guaranteed money. Wilson’s agent, Mark Rodgers, has represented baseball players exclusively in recent years, and their contracts are always fully guaranteed. The NFL has resisted bringing that trend to pro football, hiding behind the rule that requires future guarantees to be fully funded at signing. (Seahawks owner Paul Allen, the richest owner in the NFL, can afford to do that.)
Although the deadline is artificial, if the two sides regard it as real, there’s a good chance a deal will be done. A separate item from Clayton adds more beef to the notion that Wilson should consider taking the best offer the team makes now, since he’d replace his $1.5 million salary for 2015 with a much higher compensation package — driving up dramatically the new-money average.
If, for example, Wilson signs a four-year, $100 million deal in 2016 (a $25 million annual average), he will have made $101.5 million over five years, an average of only (only?) $20.3 million.
Clayton also points out that, in order to make what the Seahawks are willing to give Wilson now, he’d need a deal worth $26 million per year next year.
It’s all the more reason for Rodgers to keep squeezing the Seahawks as much as he can, ultimately taking the best offer, whatever it may be. But if Rodgers and Wilson eventually reject the best offer the Seahawks are willing to make now, the message will be that Rodgers and Wilson are looking for a lot more later.
They’ll need it, because they’ll have to make up for nearly $20 million that Wilson will have lost by not doing a deal in 2015.