When it comes to the negotiations between the Seahawks and quarterback Russell Wilson, hard facts have been difficult to come by. There’s one fact that, if true, will make it hard to get a deal done by Friday’s artificial-but-real deadline.
Multiple reports have indicated that the Seahawks are offering Wilson $21 million per year. As one league source with experience negotiating quarterback contracts (but with no direct role in the Wilson talks) explains it, the $21 million most likely isn’t the total annual value at signing; it’s the “new money.”
In other words, if the Seahawks are offering Wilson a five-year deal with $21 million per year in “new money,” that average applies to the four new years — making the total value in the range of $85.5 million. Which would give the offer a total value of $17.1 million.
If the Seahawks were offering a contract with a total value of $21 million per year, the “new money” average (i.e., $105 million minus $1.5 million divided by four new years) would be $25.625 million. And the reports, as the source believes it, undoubtedly would be that the Seahawks are offering more than $25 million per year, not $21 million.
As a result, the source contends that the recent analysis of the offer from ESPN’s John Clayton is incorrect, because it presumes the Seahawks are offering $21 million in total value, not in new money.
The “new money” analysis is a subtle distinction that has major ramifications for a guy who has a one year left on a four-year slotted third-round rookie deal at only $1.5 million. As a general rule, teams like the “new money” characterization before a deal is done, because it makes the offer look better than it really is. Players and their agents like the “new money” characterization after a deal is done, because it creates the impression that the player got more than he actually received.
All the major quarterback extensions (such as the Aaron Rodgers $22 million-per-year deal and Ben Roethlisberger’s $21.85 million annual package) have been described that way by looking only at the “new money.” If, as the source insists, the Seahawks have offered Wilson $21 million not in total value but in “new money,” the gap between the two sides is considerably wider than previously believed — and the chances of Wilson playing out the 2015 season are greater than they otherwise would be if the total package were worth $21 million per year.