Russell Wilson could be the one to blow up the salary curve

AP

As Aaron Rodgers continues to wonder why football players don’t get paid like basketball players, a baseball player may be the one who shows Rodgers how it’s done.

PFT explained in May that Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson currently plans to play out his contract, which has two years remaining on it, and then to embark on the Kirk Cousins-style franchise-tag dance. And Wilson, who would assume the injury risk (and who has more than enough money to buy insurance that would cover him in the event of a career-ending injury), inevitably will make much, much more money than any other NFL player ever has.

Wilson will pocket $32.5 million over the final two years of his contract. A $25.286 million cap number bloated in 2019 by lingering signing bonus proration and a restructuring becomes a franchise tender of $30.34 million (by rule, a 20-percent increase) in 2020. And that becomes a franchise tender of $36.41 million (by rule, a 20-percent increase) in 2021.

And that becomes a franchise tender of $52.43 million (by rule, a 44-percent increase) in 2022.

Do the math. (We’ll forgive Seahawks G.M. John Schneider and owner Paul Allen if they don’t want to.) Over the next five years, Wilson would make under two years of his contract and three franchise tags a whopping $151.68 million. That’s $30.336 million in total value over five years — a higher average than Rodgers’ $29.3 million over six.

Then comes 2023. Year Six for Rodgers. Year One for Russell Wilson in the new deal he’d sign on the open market, with Seattle or someone else. (It’s unclear whether the Seahawks would be permitted to tag him a fourth time; even if they were, the 44-percent bump would push his salary to $75.49 million for one year.)

There’s the leverage that Rodgers says doesn’t exist. The leverage resides squarely in the willingness to say to the team, “Take your long-term offer and shove it sideways, I’m going year to year.”

Rodgers made his own bed not now but in 2013, when he committed to the Packers through 2019. A shorter deal plus a Kirk Cousins mindset could have allowed Rodgers to do what Wilson likely will. And Wilson likely will because he wisely insisted on only a four-year extension, which came before his fourth NFL season.

Moving forward, Wilson needs to resist the temptation to nudge the injury risk to the Seahawks when they inevitably offer him a huge pile of money that will be less huge than what he could earn a year at a time and trust that he’ll continue to play like he has. If he pulls it off, he’ll make more per year on average over the next five years than any NFL player has, even before he signs his third long-term contract.

The only flaw in this logic works to Wilson’s benefit. If the Seahawks decide at some point between 2020, 2021, and 2020 not to tag Wilson, Wilson would become a free agent, and he’d get a contract that likely would result in him making plenty more than $151.68 million over the next five years.

So if you’re looking for the NFL’s answer to Steph Curry, the guy plays quarterback up the road from Curry’s adopted hometown. And Russell Wilson is smart enough to know it, courageous enough to act on it, and quite possibly charismatic enough to pursue that path without pissing off Seattle fans.

78 responses to “Russell Wilson could be the one to blow up the salary curve

  1. I am ok with supply and demand, but for fans, it sucks to be on the other side of the stick. A simple ordinary t-shirt made in China costs $15-$20, and the the NFL is slowly transitioning into a PPV format with the NFL ticket (which is expensive too). At some point the NFL will kill the goose with the golden egg paying this players astronomical amounts of money while stiffing the fans to extract every single penny.

  2. OMG! and imagine if Wentz wins 2 superbowls, then they franchise tag him 8 times, and then they sign him to a 14 year deal!?! OMG BILLIONS!!

  3. So, this article is basically about something that might happen two years from now. Is that correct?

  4. Great way to get rich, not a great way to stay competitive. The extra dough won’t buy you immortality, only a handful of Lombardis can do that. These guys have so much to learn from the GOAT, on and off the field.

  5. Russell Wilson is greedy. So is his agent. So what else is new? Have fun in Cleveland in 2023 Russ. Meantime, you’re ours.

    Also I doubt Wilson’s image survives “We offered Russell the most money in NFL history and he turned it down.”

  6. I’m perfectly fine with RW making as much as he can. The problem with this post is that it implies that, in getting so much money, RW is somehow making ownership pay more money. If this comes to pass, good for RW (I guess), but the money that he is taking is coming directly from the pockets of his teammates. If players want more, they need to either increase the size of the pie or increase their share of it, but they don’t seem to have the nerve to go on strike for these things. If RW’s only goal is to maximize his own income, then that is his right, but that will not help the Seahawks win. I don’t really want a team with a great QB and no supporting cast. If that is what he really wants, I’d rather have him go do it for another team.

  7. Can’t wait to see them give him 40% of the salary cap, only to have a collection of random twigs and branches at offensive line.

  8. The NFL is already losing fans on a daily basis, paying 1 player this amount of money is ridiculous. I totally get that every player wants to make as much as he can, I get it, everyone wants to make more money regardless of their profession. I like the NFL less and less every year, with the dumb rules changes, I cancelled my NFL Ticket last year, quit buying gear and taking your family to a game costs more than a weeks vacation. I’m not sure how they think people will stick around.

  9. Since contracts aren’t guaranteed, it makes no sense to sign contracts longer than 4 years or so. If players can’t stand not being the highest paid at their position each year, then they ought to sign 2-3 year contracts and then sign at the new market rate.

  10. Please, the wandering gnome is always one play away from season ending IR. And even if he follows this path his team implodes because he’s taken so much cap space. Ain’t gonna happen, he’ll be a good soldier and stay ‘team friendly’ which still will have ramifications but not like the ones you’re suggesting.

  11. I anyone ever does get a maga contract – the union will totally let the owners make a rule against in up coming collective bargaining.

    Mega crtracts are a bad from the perspective of the majority of players.

  12. These guys really are morons. 16 games with 53 man rosters vs 82 games with 15-17 man rosters and 162 games with 25 man rosters.

    There’s also 22 starting positions (not counting special teams) vs 5 for Basketball and 9 (or one could say 13, 8 positions and 5 starting pitchers).

    Did any of these players pass 1st-grade math?

    Also, basketball and baseball have best of 7 series in the playoffs not one and done with 4 total teams earning first-round byes.

    Even sportswriters have to notice the difference between the two. You might want to inform them that the math doesn’t work, but of course, you have to figure it out first.

    To be paid like basketball players the NFL’s revenue would need to go up an order of magnitude or at least around there.

    Meanwhile, the NFL is LUCKY to even have the salaries it does, considering NBC, FOX, CBS, and ESPN are losing billions on the TV rights. If the players had their way, these networks would lose 20 billion a year on paying them Steph Curry salaries. Put down the crack pipe.

  13. Assuming he lasts that long, which is iffy given the tendency of the Seahawks to draft really weak O linemen and make Wilson run for his life. Eventually he will erode, and it will be dramatic because of the hits he takes.

  14. or teams realize they can win with the keenum’s and foles’ of the league and use the extra cap space to keep their secondaries or pass rushers together.

  15. “And Russell Wilson is smart enough to know it, courageous enough to act on it, and quite possibly charismatic enough to pursue that path without pissing off Seattle fans.”

    Fans love players but root for the teams. Any player screwing their team that hard in refusing to work out a long term deal is going to lose a large chunk of their fanbase in the process.

  16. Why are you (Florio) so desperate for another person to exert maximum leverage? This would, in essence, blow up their public life for 2-4 years simply to change the nature of contracts that by and large, most players seem to be perfectly content to continue to sign… hence the fact that no one has done this yet.

    What Rodgers said is that some language would have to change to move it in this direction; that means creating a CBA that doesn’t REQUIRE “courage” and that much patience and this much upheaval of your public profile in order to make different demands.

  17. and then we wonder why viewership is down and interest in the game is in decline. If those trends continue revenue will drop, salary caps will get stagnant and more and more teams will become “one star” teams that go nowhere in the playoffs. After all football is a team sport and those who can field the most balanced teams will win.

  18. “thelastwordyaheard says:
    August 30, 2018 at 3:11 pm
    Great way to get rich, not a great way to stay competitive. The extra dough won’t buy you immortality, only a handful of Lombardis can do that. These guys have so much to learn from the GOAT, on and off the field.”

    Exactly. Russell needs to find a “guru” and work on the RW3 brand. Market it to his team as a partnership at arms length and then get any additional money needed, lets say a million or so per invoice, to his RW3 brand instead of through the cap.

  19. rho1953 says:
    August 30, 2018 at 3:21 pm
    Assuming he lasts that long, which is iffy given the tendency of the Seahawks to draft really weak O linemen and make Wilson run for his life. Eventually he will erode, and it will be dramatic because of the hits he takes.
    ________________________________________________

    what dramatic hits has he taken? I can only think of one, and that was clay matthews several years ago.

  20. Teams need to invest more in their scouting departments, instead of paying these high priced guys. I mean, Wilson was a third round pick. Just keep getting guys like that every year, and you can let the veterans walk.

  21. PhD says:
    August 30, 2018 at 3:17 pm
    Please, the wandering gnome is always one play away from season ending IR. And even if he follows this path his team implodes because he’s taken so much cap space. Ain’t gonna happen, he’ll be a good soldier and stay ‘team friendly’ which still will have ramifications but not like the ones you’re suggesting.
    ****************************
    Silly comment… Literally all players regardless of position they play or which team they play for are one play away from a season ending injury.

  22. What would a yearly premium cost for a $151.68 million career-ending injury insurance policy? I just read a 2016 article that says such policies back then sold for around $8000 per each million of coverage. So are we talking about Wilson shelling out around $1,212,000 for a $151.68 policy? That’s a lot of money, but I guess the numbers cited in the article would make it a sensible investment. Lord knows, Wilson wouldn’t go broke spending a million two for such a policy. Florio, I hope one of these days you’ll dig into this whole business of NFL players purchasing insurance.

  23. Actually Florio there’s another flaw in your argument. It’s one you always overlook even though it’s obvious. No tem will EVER tag a player a 3rd time, EVER! No way any team will pay $52.43M for 1 year. you need to stop using this asinine argument in your quest to get QB’s paid more and more. Which I’m still confused why you’re so hard up for?

  24. jnewby74 says:
    August 30, 2018 at 3:39 pm
    Actually Florio there’s another flaw in your argument. It’s one you always overlook even though it’s obvious. No tem will EVER tag a player a 3rd time, EVER! No way any team will pay $52.43M for 1 year. you need to stop using this asinine argument in your quest to get QB’s paid more and more. Which I’m still confused why you’re so hard up for?

    ************************

    All of it depends on the market. Might be a bargain at that point.

  25. Rodgers just signed his deal yesterday, and Florio is already salivating over the next big deal to pass that… And it isn’t even close to happening yet. We get it Florio, you think the players should be given all the money and that the owners are evil.

  26. Wilson has a lucrative future performing as a Carlton Banks impersonator at low level bars across the country after his career ends. At least he will be used to being booed

  27. obsessedvikingfan says:
    August 30, 2018 at 4:13 pm
    Well, Wilson has been to more Super Bowls than Rodgers. So he deserves more money than him.

    ———

    If that were the only criteria none of the guys on your team would deserve to even get paid

  28. PhD says:
    August 30, 2018 at 3:17 pm
    Please, the wandering gnome is always one play away from season ending IR. And even if he follows this path his team implodes because he’s taken so much cap space. Ain’t gonna happen, he’ll be a good soldier and stay ‘team friendly’ which still will have ramifications but not like the ones you’re suggesting.
    ****************************
    Silly comment… Literally all players regardless of position they play or which team they play for are one play away from a season ending injury.
    —————————-
    Almost as silly as you ignoring the wandering gnome part of it. Who do you think has a *greater* chance of getting injured Einstein?

  29. The problem with that plan is what if he sucks the next two years or gets hurt really bad. The Seahawks won’t franchise him and no other team will give him a mega contract. He is a stud but every year new players come out for cheap and anything can happen. If he or any player can continue to be a top ten qb every year then yes it would work but that’s a gamble too.

  30. Paul Allen, co-founder of Microsoft Corp. and present owner of the Seahawks, is a very generous man.

    Both Jerry Jones (Cowpokes) and Robert Kraft (TB12 Land) are “in the poor house” compared to Allen’s net worth. The Donald Trump (is he r-e-a-l-ly President? lol) is a pauper, compared to Allen. That’s why Jones couldn’t afford to pay Dez; why Kraft is “cheap” like the Rooney Family and dishes out very little “Das Kapital” and why The Donald has to rely on the wealth of The Wealthy to buy his overpriced condos in order to make a decent buck.

    As long as Russell Wilson stays in Seattle, he will continue to be “very well paid.”

  31. theparadoxx82 says:
    RW better make sure he gets PAID that first year if he ends up on a team that isn’t carried by a top 5 defense.
    ——————————————————-
    They were 15th in defense last year and he led the NFL in touchdown passes.

  32. I feel my interest in the NFL sunsetting on me like it has for professional baseball and basketball. The salaries, the off-field nonsense, owner’s greed and a commissioner who can’t seem to get a handle on things are all killing my interest. When I get excited for Sundays now its for the relaxed breakfast at home, not football.

  33. nnagi says:
    August 30, 2018 at 4:07 pm
    he stinks…and he’s short…
    —————————————————-
    5 straight years of 10+ wins, 5 straight playoff appearances, 2 Super Bowls and 1 Lombardi that should have been two had it not been for the worst play call in NFL history.

    He’s #2 all-time in passer rating ahead of Brady, Manning and Marino in the regular season, and #9 all-time in the playoffs, ahead of Brady, Aikman, Manning, Favre, etc…

    181 TD passes in his first 6 years, 8-4 in playoff games/Super Bowls, 3,000 career rushing yards, 15 rushing TDs, only player in NFL history to pass for 300 yards and run for 100 yards in a single game…

    181 career TD passes in 6 years (30 per season average. Led NFL in passer rating in 2015. Led NFL in TD passes in 2017…

    1 of only 9 QBs in NFL history to have 3 or more 100+ Passer Rating seasons. The other 8 are Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Joe Montana, Steve Young, Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, Philip Rivers, And Ben Roethlisberger.

    QBs with multiple seasons of 100+ passer rating & 400+ rushing yards:
    Steve Young, 4x
    Russell Wilson, 3x

    Players with 4,000 yards passing and 500 yards rushing:
    Steve Young
    Russell Wilson
    Wilson was 80 yards short of becoming the only player in NFL HISTORY to do it twice. (2017)

    Only player in NFL HISTORY to pass for 300 yards and rush for 100 yards in the same game.

    That’s not just top 5, it’s Hall of Fame. Easily.

  34. The problem with this approach is by the time he gets through a few years of being tagged his skill set will have diminished and he’ll no longer be the elusive force he is today. No way he’s as mobile in 2023 as he is today, Not even close. After 11 years???? Please. You’re dreaming if you think so.
    Remember Donovan McNabb? He’s the closest thing we’ve seen to Wilson and when he approached 30 he became a pocket passer because his legs were shot. Same thing will happen here. Wilson is good from the pocket but not great and certainly not “top of the heap” money great.

  35. So does Florio get to write the follow up article about how the Hawks have no money to sign players around Wilson or is that given to a different writer on staff?

  36. You’re talking about their kid’s and grand kid’s money at this point. I don’t think grand kids should be in any equation.

    Personally, I’d rather win a few SB’s on a contender, have 150M, than risk injury and lose money that will buy my 17 y/o grand son a Porsche.

    And AGAIN…everyone forgets about endorsements. You going with Jalen Ramsey or Calais Campbell to sell your product? I’ll take the mature leader to sell everything. Maybe Jalen can push Dr Dre headphones…

    I understand maxing contracts (not the ego part) but there is a line in the sand that some will draw. Look at Brady. Team friendly because his wife makes 50M a year. NO WAY he does this 15M thing without her. His line is easy to draw. Others’ will have theirs.

  37. You sure like hypothetical’s, don’t you? He can take the chance, then blow out is new and by year four is out of football.

  38. I am not a Seattle fan. I hope your prediction comes to pass. I hope Seattle pay Wilson more money than any other qb in history, with 100% of the money guaranteed and a no trade clause. Seattle deserves it. ROTFL.

  39. Rodgers has made it very clear through his actions and decisions that it’s NOT all about the money. Good for him. Class act. Very professional, while keeping the best interests of the team in-mind. He has to appease the player’s union too, which I think he has done admirably. Good work Rodgers. Good work Packers.

  40. The team that is dumb enough to cough up that much money for a guy who runs around and throws up prayers better be able to also afford a HOF defense if they want to win anything. We’ve all seen the downfall of a Wilson led team once the defense went back to being average, not even a bad defense, just average.

  41. Russell Wilson had a qb rating in the 60s (IIRC) in the last preseason game. He is the best QB on this planet and deserves to be paid accordingly. ROTFL.

  42. bullhunktown says:
    August 30, 2018 at 3:00 pm

    But I thought the world was ruled by a bunch of rich old white guys?
    ———————

    It is. Paul Allen makes $30 million in his sleep.

  43. ragnarthemagnificent says:
    August 30, 2018 at 4:58 pm
    Florio, I really like the way you needle Packa’s nation. Keep up the fine work.
    _____________

    Not quite sure why any of this would bother Packer Nation.
    Must be that Barney logic again.

  44. Wilson isn’t elite by any standard. He can’t carry that team. The again, Kirk Cousins isn’t elite either.

  45. There is more than a little bit of speculation happening here. I highly doubt he will ever need to holdout, let alone be tagged. All of the recent moves starting with Lynch have been geared around Wilson. As stated above, the Seahawks organization has no problem rewarding their marquee players, except for Earl Thomas for some reason.

  46. It’s amazing how you can make a big story about something that you’re dreaming about being possible and it then it turns into a discussion about something like it actually happened.

    Nice job I guess but this scenario will never play out.

  47. I was beginning to think that Cousins was the only smart QB in the NFL. Russell is a great player and a great professional—I hope he gets what he deserves.

  48. Wilson isn’t elite by any standard. He can’t carry that team. The again, Kirk Cousins isn’t elite either.

    __________

    Wait, you’re seriously comparing Kirk Cousins and Russell Wilson?

    That tells us about your football knowledge thank you, we can just dismiss your statements now.

  49. Wilson isn’t elite by any standard. He can’t carry that team. The again, Kirk Cousins isn’t elite either.

    _______

    BTW, Russell Wilson did carry that team last year to a 9-7 record… he scored every touchdown except for one.

    That was with one of the worst offensive lines you have ever seen and zero running game. the defense was always game plan to stop Russell Wilson and him alone yet he still did it.

    A normal quarterback would have failed miserably and the team would have won maybe 6 games…like the niners.

  50. It’s easy from behind a keyboard to say guys should play year to year to maximize their earnings but in real life, it’s a huge risk. What happens when a player blows out a knee on a one year deal?

    Where would Andrew Luck be right now if he had been playing on a one year deal when he was injured? He likely would have been out of football last year, rehabbing on his own and this year he’d probably be on a minimum “prove it” type contract.

  51. El Guapo says:
    August 30, 2018 at 3:14 pm
    Can’t wait to see them give him 40% of the salary cap, only to have a collection of random twigs and branches at offensive line.

    —————

    Not sure how that’s any different than Seattle right now…

  52. trade him now while you can get something for him. he’s not improved. still looks like a college qb trying to play pro ball, imo.

  53. Wilson isn’t elite by any standard. He can’t carry that team. The again, Kirk Cousins isn’t elite either.

    _______

    BTW, Russell Wilson did carry that team last year to a 9-7 record… he scored every touchdown except for one.

    That was with one of the worst offensive lines you have ever seen and zero running game. the defense was always game plan to stop Russell Wilson and him alone yet he still did it.

    A normal quarterback would have failed miserably and the team would have won maybe 6 games…like the niners.
    ———

    If Hawks don’t sign Blair Walsh(what were they thinking?!?!), they end up at least 11-5, if not 12-4.

  54. I wonder if Seattle will pay through the record-setting nose for a “guarantee,” as some (one) team has done?

    Good luck with that.

  55. “Great way to get rich, not a great way to stay competitive. The extra dough won’t buy you immortality, only a handful of Lombardis can do that. ”

    I would argue that for most people once you’ve made 200 million dollars who the hell cares if you have “immortality” or not? You can do anything you want for the rest of your life whenever you want without answering to anyone. And he’s got a Super Bowl ring. Not its not 5 or some other number greater than 1, but he’s experienced that pinnacle and you can’t take that away from him.

    Don’t blame him for going for the money one bit.

  56. If Russell Wilson fails to reach the playoffs year after year, then he has a snowball’s chance inside the Hawaiian volcano to be franchise tagged.

  57. You talk about signing bonus proration like it doesn’t count as money. he’s at his current salary of 16 mil because he got a big bonus to start out the deal. A bonus is guaranteed money, which you are always saying the players deserve. Then when these contract discussions start about QB extensions, you act like the current year salary is all the QB is earning.

  58. The “what if?” component to this scenario is key. This counterfactual discussion collapses if any of the following occur:

    What if Wilson gets hurt (again) and can’t run away from defenders? In that case, his amazing abilities become one dimensional and he is trapped behind an O-line that is made up of old Kmart mannequins.
    What if an amazing QB (or several) emerges from the college ranks in the next 3-5 years? Suddenly DeShawn 2.0 comes in from (insert favourite college here) and Russell becomes mighty expendable.
    What if Wilson runs out of his miracle concussion water? That one is unlikely as he has warehouses of the stuff.
    What if the GM and coach fail to learn from history and let their two key components, a crushing running attack and stout D, wither and die? Oh, wait…

    No team can sustain the escalating costs of dominant players at certain positions while ignoring others. The old maxim that you can afford to have only 2 of the 3 major components of a championship team (D, O-line, QB) is going to be massively tested if Aaron Donald or Kirk Cousins make up 20 – 25% of your salary cap. The Seahawks realized that they had a great deal on Wilson in his rookie contract and were praying for him to take the extension. The Cousins deal has blown everything up and the Seahawks right along with it it seems.

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