“New money” has become one of the great fictions in the assessment of NFL contracts. But, you know, when in Rome.
For Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson, the headline is that he signed a four-year, $87.6 million extension, with a new-money average of $21.9 million. The truth is that the last year of his current contract, at a base salary of $1.542 million, has been ripped up and replaced with a new five-year, $89.1 million deal.
But since the average of the total five-year deal is $17.8 million, it won’t be characterized that way when it comes to deciding whose is bigger.
For Wilson, the details of the five-year, $89.1 million deal have begun to emerge. With one important key metric still missing.
The signing bonus, per multiple reports, is $31 million. The total guarantee, per multiple reports, is $60 million. The amount fully guaranteed of the remaining $29 million in guarantees remains unknown.
It’s a key point because the Seahawks and Wilson’s agent had been squabbling about the portion of the contract that will be fully guaranteed at signing, since future fully-guaranteed payments must be placed into escrow now. (To raise the money, Gantt could have organized a bake sale for owner Paul Allen.)
The Dolphins fully guaranteed $60 million of defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh’s contract. For Wilson, the question is whether and to what extent he has fully-guaranteed payments beyond the $31 million signing bonus.
The base salaries are, via Ian Rapoport of NFL Network, $700,000 in 2015, $12.34 million in 2016, $12.6 million in 2017, $15.5 million in 2018, and $17 million in 2019.
This makes the cap numbers $6.9 million in 2015, $18.54 million in 2016, $18.8 million in 2017, $21.7 million in 2018, and $23.2 million in 2019.
As the salary cap continues to climb, Wilson won’t last long as the second highest-paid player in the NFL. From Eli Manning to Philip Rivers to Andrew Luck to other young quarterbacks who become stars, the bar soon will be pushed to $23 million, $25 million, and beyond.
By 2019, Wilson’s salary of $17 million will be middle-of-the-pack at best. Before then, if he keeps playing like he has, Wilson likely will have another new deal.