On the surface, Russell Wilson’s comments about playing football and baseball look like a negotiating ploy with the Seahawks. But idle chatter regarding an unrealistic two-sport career won’t significantly change Seattle’s valuation of their fourth-year quarterback. Or Wilson’s of himself.
It could be that the two sides can’t come to an agreement, with Wilson wanting to be paid like a top quarterback and the Seahawks aiming for something more team friendly — especially since quarterbacks taken in the middle to later rounds of the draft often pounce on a good-but-not-great offer for a second contract, since it’s still far more money than they’ve ever gotten.
Wilson, who has carried the injury risk for the last three years, ultimately may be willing to take $1.5 million for 2015 and force the Seahawks to use the franchise tag in 2016. Seattle would have to apply the exclusive tag or risk a quarterback-desperate team gladly giving up two first-round picks for him. And that could put the franchise tender between $20 and $25 million for 2016.
Then, Wilson could choose to go year to year, securing a 20-percent raise for 2017 and a 44-percent raise for 2018. Even if the Seahawks choose to tag Wilson a third time, he’d be 30 when he hits the market in 2019 — and plenty of quarterbacks are currently making gigantic money well beyond the birthday that has become the chariot-to-a-pumpkin moment for players at other positions.
Yes, Wilson would have to continue to carry the risk of a career-ending injury. But how many quarterbacks ever have truly career-ending injuries? The greater risk is a career-limiting injury, like the torn ACL from which Robert Griffin III’s game has never really recovered.
Wilson is different. He knows how to avoid contact and, more importantly, how to absorb it. If he’s willing to continue to assume the financial risk of an unlikely injury that would limit or end his NFL career, Wilson could make a ton of money — either by playing the franchise-tag game or by getting the Seahawks to give him the kind of offer that would dissuade him from playing the franchise-tag game.