With Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson now eligible for a second contract and the team apparently willing to rectify a wage-scale situation that has left him grossly underpaid, the challenge becomes finding a way to pay him enough without making it harder to put a team on the field around him. Ultimately, the question becomes where Wilson lands in the gulf between Peyton Manning’s grab-ever-dollar approach (and there’s nothing wrong with that) and Colin Kaepernick’s leave-plenty-behind strategy.
The Seahawks may be planning to devise an answer that doesn’t fit within the traditional way of assessing quarterback contracts. Appearing Tuesday on 710 ESPN Radio in Seattle, G.M. John Schneider said that Wilson’s contract may not look like other quarterback deals, and that the team may use an outside-the-box approach, via John Boyle of the Everett Herald.
It’s unknown what that outside-the-box approach will be. Perhaps Wilson will receive a fully-guaranteed contract for the life of the deal. Common in other sports, NFL teams rarely make salaries beyond the first year or two fully guaranteed, giving the team maximum flexibility when it comes to deciding whether to move on from a player. Fully guaranteeing every dollar of the deal could get Wilson signed at a lower cap number, since the team would be assuming the full risk of the kind of injury that would end or limit Wilson’s career.
That approach would allow Wilson to secure a significant amount of compensation and security without the kind of eye-popping, high-end numbers that: (1) are rarely realistic; (2) are aimed at making the agent look good; and (3) can create even more resentment of the player in the locker room.
A seven-year, $105 million figure has been mentioned for Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill. That’s $15 million per year. What if the Seahawks offered something like that, making the deal fully guaranteed?
It would be simple, but it definitely would be outside the box. And it could spark increased use of fully-guaranteed contracts by NFL teams.
For now, that’s all speculation. But there aren’t many other ways an NFL contract can go outside the box while still being fair to both sides.