Would Seahawks pass on paying Russell Wilson again?

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The deadline arrives in three days. If, as of April 15, the Seahawks and quarterback Russell Wilson haven’t worked out a new contract, what happens next?

One possibility, as casually tossed into the fray by Jack Del Rio on Monday, is that the Seahawks will decide against doing the year-to-year franchise-tag and trade Wilson, before the start of the 2019 regular season. Whether it would happen this year or next year (when holding his rights would entail a $30.34 million franchise tag), the philosophical question becomes whether the Seahawks would choose to give up a franchise quarterback in order to avoid devoting so much cap and cash space to a franchise quarterback.

Ever since the 2011 labor deal made it dramatically cheaper to pay high-end rookies quarterbacks than top-tier veterans, the possibility has been percolating of a team consciously saying “no thanks” when faced with the prospect of paying a healthy franchise quarterback. The Ravens became the first team to blink after the 2012 season, opting to making Joe Flacco the highest-paid quarterback in league history in lieu of applying the franchise tag and risking that someone would sign him in exchange for a pair of first-round draft picks. (Someone would have.)

That process continued, with teams finding ways to keep a quarterback they had drafted and developed in lieu of drafting and developing another one. It ended (sort of) when Washington paid franchise-tag money twice to Kirk Cousins and couldn’t/wouldn’t do it a third time, when his $24 million payday from 2017 would have spiked to more than $34 million for 2018. But Cousins isn’t really a franchise quarterback, which is why Washington wasn’t really interested in paying him big money on a long-term deal.

With Wilson entering the final year of his second contract and the Seahawks staring at an or-else proposition of $30.34 million in 2020, $36.4 million in 2021, and $52.43 million in 2022 under the franchise tag, the question becomes whether the Seahawks would simply do what the Raiders did with linebacker Khalil Mack, punting on the future Hall of Famer, picking up multiple high-round picks, and rolling the dice on a rookie quarterback, whose overall cap burden would give the team the kind of maximum flexibility it enjoyed when Wilson was operating under his rookie deal in 2012, 2013, and 2014.

Big Cat and I discussed these dynamics on Friday’s PFT Live. For me, the final answer remains simple: The Seahawks gave Russell Wilson a market-value deal in 2015, with a new-money average only $100,000 per year below the $22 million in annual compensation that Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers was earning at the time. If the Seahawks did it before with Wilson, they’ll likely do it again — especially since they surely knew where things where heading financially with Wilson when reconfiguring the team with the quarterback becoming the nucleus of the roster in 2018.

Still, at some point, someone will do with a healthy quarterback what the Colts did with an injury-riddled Peyton Manning seven years ago. Someone will quit paying huge money to the current quarterback and pay peanuts in comparison to an unproven rookie. For Indy, having the right to Andrew Luck made that easy. For the Seahawks now and for other teams in the future, the analysis may not be as clean, especially if the quarterback hasn’t had four neck surgeries and if the team doesn’t hold the first pick in a draft that features a can’t-miss quarterback prospect.

Under any other scenario, the risks will be extremely high. The coach and G.M. who give up on a franchise quarterback will be pushing the chips of their careers into the middle of the table, riding all future employment on a rookie who will be under immense pressure to perform immediately. It will make for an interesting situation for fans and media to monitor, but it also could derail a franchise that would otherwise be in playoff contention every year, if only it found a way to keep paying its franchise quarterback.

67 responses to “Would Seahawks pass on paying Russell Wilson again?

  1. The few 1-2s still left would be apathetic.

    A small mobile qb is much like a running back. Prime in mid 20s. old by 28. Washed up by 30 and out of the league by 32.

    Might get lucky and sign in as a backup somewhere but this dude’s run as a franchise qb is ovah.

  2. I say trade him. Nobody can sustain deep playoffs while paying a qb 30 million. Russell wilson is a very good quarterback, but hes not a manning or brady.

  3. They will pay him. And the reason is that it can take years to stumble upon a true franchise QB. He’s young and still playing at a high level so why risk years of mediocrity while trying to draft a replacement. A bird in the hand grasshopper…

  4. That Flacco trade claim is absolutely bogus. No team would have given up TWO first round picks for the right to pay Joe Flacco (proven solid/reliable-but-also-mediocre QB) a giant contract. If the Ravens wouldn’t have wanted to pay Flacco, why would a team give up such precious resources to then give him that same amount? Also, the Ravens could have used the exclusive franchise tag instead of the non-exclusive one. PFT would be right for a second and certainly a first tier QB, but Flacco was never at that level for the position. Better to have him than be stuck in QB limbo, but that doesn’t mean any team would pay him huge money and surrender a trove of draft pick value.

  5. The money is getting ridiculous. Players become the highest paid just cause they are up next for a contract. Something has to give. Lock out possible in the next 2-3 years?

  6. Indy was in a very different situation with Luck being available and holding the #1 pick. Who is Seattle going to replace Wilson with?

  7. I’ve watched them enough to be baffled how they can have zero offense for 3 1/2 quarters then come alive at the end of the game.

  8. When does one player make the entire team? Never.
    Wilson experienced the most success because he WASN’T getting paid and the TEAM could afford to be strong around him.

    He’s great, but he’s not THAT great.

  9. You need a QB that is willing to play at less than full dollar to add a few more mid level guys.

  10. Put the blame where it belongs , ,the STUPID RAVENS paying flacco stupid money ,, and where’d it get them?? Watch Jackson crash and burn this year , teals already figured him out ,and the idiot Vikings with Cousins,, these GM’s don’t know what they’re doing and this proves it ,, the Packers will learn this lesson real soon ..

  11. Go for the big payday & take up all the cap space or play for a fair amount so the team can still have cap space to be competitive…Is it going to be me or we? It’s pretty sad to see what this sport has become.

  12. This how darn lucky the Pats got with Brady……
    They have drafted 13 QB’s since Brady and none have made it. LUCKY!
    Let’s call a spade a spade all teams want a lucky pick. Good luck when he retires.

  13. “Still, at some point, someone will do with a healthy quarterback what the Colts did with an injury-riddled Peyton Manning seven years ago.”

    You mean, send him off to finally pass for over 5K with a different team, set multiple other offensive records along the way, and play in two more Super Bowls while Mr. Peanuts gets your team to one AFC Championship Game?

    Everyone sees how this could play out with a healthy franchise QB…

  14. Trade him or pay him are not the only 2 options. they made the playoffs last season, and as they say in sports, anything can happen after you make the playoffs. The NY Giants for example, won the SB with a 9-7 record as a wild card. Even though Wilson has had a rather mediocre road record in the playoffs, there remains the possibility that Wilson can get his team another Lombardi trophy even though Seattle is not likely to unseat the LAmbs as division champs. Giving up on Wilson now and trading him for draft picks is more rewarding that letting him leave after the 2019 season. However, his 2019 season salary is low compared to other quarterbacks around the league. So, why not just make him prove himself the Ravens did with Flecko. If he can win the SB, as Flecko did, then he can perhaps be the highest paid QB in the league. If not, they can franchise him for a still pretty low sum of 25 mil in 2020. If he can win the SB, then perhaps they can work out a long term deal. If not, no way will they franchise him again for $35 mil. Say farewell to him and start over. Further, they do have Brett Hundley under contract, and they can even let Wilson go after the 2019 season if they fail to make the playoffs. Hundley may not be a threat to be franchise QB, but at least he has proven that he is good enough to start in the NFL.

  15. Carroll only had success in Seattle early because he could combine a youthful cheap scrambler QB with an all-star expensive D (plus Lynch). Ever since the SB the need to pay Russ has increasingly meant it’s all on the QB’s shoulders. But neither he nor Pete are football superbrains (Russ relies on athleticism and Pete on cheerleading youths to give every ounce). Russ won’t get any faster with age and Pete doesn’t have any other way of coaching. These 10-6 wildcard seasons will only get harder/worse as 49ers and Rams ascend.

  16. Are we forgetting Brett Favre? The Packers let him go in favor of Aaron Rodgers.

  17. Wilson is good, but I don’t think he’s worth the 30 or so mil. If they pay him, I see a lot of 8-8, maybe 9-7 seasons. Tough position to be in if you are the Seahawks.

  18. I’m probably one of the few who believe the Raiders did the right thing in trading Mack rather than pay him what the Bears ultimately did, but in this case I think the Seahawks need to pay Wilson. QB is the one position you have to pay if you have one or even think you have one. It’s that important. The Raiders defense was going to stink with or without Mack which is why I agreed with trading him and getting picks to build with. In this case the Seahawks are a playoff team that wouldn’t be if they traded Wilson. Not sure how you justify that when the whole idea is to win football games.

  19. I bet they will cave like every team does. These teams are so risk adverse and afraid.
    Russell Wilson is an above average QB, that has been bolstered by an amazing defense, and when Lynch was behind him, an elite running game.
    Just look over the last few years and see how many games the Seahawks won because the defense just gave up 7 points, 10, etc. How many they won with a ton of rushing yards. Then look how many you can truly point to Wilson as the cause. And by the way Wilson playing lousy to average for 80% of the game and having one good drive that happens to be in the 4th quarter is not him being the cause.

    Paying him 40, 50 million is ridiculous not because Wilson is bad or anything…its because its ridiculous to pay almost any QB that much!

    If they go with a different QB is there a chance he could be worse than Wilson? Yes. Is there a chance he could be better? Yes.
    The difference is in both scenarios they’d be paying that QB drastically less. Money that can be spread around to keep their D elite, rebuild their O-line, and other needs.

    I mean, just look at all the examples of teams having to pay their QB 20-25 million and they never reach the heights they did when the QB was paid less. The Seahawks even are an example of this going from a Super Bowl winning team to borderline playoff team…and the solution is to double the money going to the QB position!?!?!?

  20. This is Russell putting Seattle in a pickle and forcing a draft day trade to NYG. He’s a hero so the locals won’t care if the Seahawks pay, and they look like villains if he gets shipped. Either way he gets what he wants.

  21. They’ll pay him what the market dictates. Not sure why that seems egregious to some. His numbers are good, he doesn’t make many mistakes, and can he can run. Oh yeah, and he has a ring. Seattle’s only.

  22. He’s just not worth a huge contract! Don’t hamstring the franchise like the Vikings did.

  23. Wilson is the leader of a team that gets to multiple super bowls. It’s not at all like Khalil Mack, who only had one winning season his entire time in Oakland. One guy is a winner and one is a loser.

  24. Teams are starting to realize how paying these ultra high $$$$ contracts hamstrings a team for years and going forward with the way those contracts are esculating a lot of teams won’t pay it, they’ll build around the QB position and then just get a serviceable QB or a rookie and use them up and when they DEMAND TOO MUCH, wash, rinse, repeat.

    I’ll bet in the very near future you’ll see a lot more QBs “demanding” themselves right out of a job!

    Teams win SBs, not QBs and for those that think differently I have two words: Trent Dilfer!

    The years of the $50mil/yr QBs are a lot farther away than most people think, just wait and see!

  25. The Seahawks have a third option.
    Trade Wilson, and if they don’t like the QBs this year, then wait a year to draft. They can sign a low cost QB and accept a bad year then hope to bounce back in 2 years.

    I’d rather pay Russel Wilson 33MM than Kirk Cousins 28MM.

    The real question is how much Wilson wants. If its 35, its doable if its 38-40 then it really hamstrings the team.

  26. Both fans and general managers are getting it. Teams can not keep paying huge contracts and be competitive. Trade him to Cincinnati or Buffalo. Grass is not even green there

  27. They should allow teams 3 players, 1 offense, 1 defense and 1 spec teams, whose contracts don’t affect the salary cap. Just a thought. Teams would have the ability to pay their captains and still pay everyone else.

  28. On the same day that you said Kirk Cousins ‘is not really a franchise quarterback’, you quoted Jon Gruden and Mike Mayock saying that Derek Carr is. You didn’t refute them, nor should you. Both qbs have played in 78 games. Cousins’ completion percentage is nearly 4 percentage points higher, his yards per attempt is a yard higher, he’s thrown for nearly 2,000 more yards and 7 more touchdowns. His numbers were vastly superior to Carr’s in 2018. Derek Carr and Kirk Cousins are franchise quarterbacks.

  29. Unless they have a plan for someone else to start who they believe can be at least average for sub-5-million then yes, you pay him what the market dictates. He’s somewhere around 5th-10th best in the league and just had one of his better seasons. There’s a pretty sharp dropoff in QB quality after 15th best and even sharper after 20th best, and you NEVER want to be in that sitation no matter how much it saves you. I mean, I get it, it’s nice what the Rams, Eagles, and Chiefs have been able to do with QBs on rookie deals, but those teams have been well managed in other ways and were fortunate to hit on QBs who can play.

    I think since he wants top dollar and just had a good year, the Seahawks wait until next year to negotiate. What’s the worst case scenario? He has another really good year and they can pay him top dollar after – they save 10 million. At least they will also have the leverage of the franchise tag.

  30. I’m a Duck fan and I first saw Wilson when we played Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl. He was really good in that game; he had “it”. When the Seahawks drafted him I told my Seattlite brother that he was special. Uh….. Wilson, not my brother. Anyway, he’s a truly legit franchise QB with the stats and the ring to prove it, he’s durable, and he’s in his prime for several more years…. this is a no-brainer. Pay him market value and move forward.

  31. There’s no possible way the NFL hasn’t already had this trend analyzed, they have to know when the bubble will burst. The company will price itself out of it’s own market. These contracts get passed on to the fans at some point. The TV landscape is starting to change so the enormous amount of money they’ll get from networks will dwindle. Poof goes the NFL’s massive contract days if it wants to survive in an evolving entertainment landscape. They’ve had decades of people locked into one way to get their product until now.

  32. How to tell you’re talking to a casual NFL “fan” that has absolutely NO idea what they’re talking about:

    1) “Russell Wilson is average or mediocre or has no impact in Seattle’s offense”. Lol. GTFO with that nonsense. Dude was responsible for 95% of Seattle’s offense in 2017. You don’t know that because you only watch football to see the halftime show and ship through the game.

    2) Franchise QBs are easy enough to draft that you can just develop them and let them go when they ask to get paid. There are a handful of great QBs in this game, and if your best example of teams letting a QB go and drafting someone is Andrew luck, then see point 1. You clearly haven’t been watching. Luck has been injured and inconsistent his entire career. To compare his career to Manning’s post-Indy is an absolute joke. Totally clueless. The only thing luck is good at is making the talking heads look stupid as heck for saying he was so great.

    You don’t let great quarterbacks walk. Wilson will get paid. And he’s earned it.

    No way Seattle lets him walk. I’m bored of reading about it and bored of the gossip site attempts to fabricate a controversy that doesn’t exist.

    If Jack del Rio knew the first thing about football he’d still be employed by a team. All you armchair GMs sound just as ludicrous and silly.

  33. I want to keep Wilson, depends what we have to pay him. If we can trade him for number 1 pick and get Murray on rookie scale, save 20 million a year and build up other needs for same quarterback, would very seriously think about it. Wilson is worth top 5 money regardless.

  34. Quarterbacks are important, but giving them upwards of $30,000,000 of your salary cap allocation?

    That’s crazy.

  35. Pay him top dollar, next year and every year the cap will increase, especially wth gambling entering and so each year his cap percentage could be less and less…

  36. Are we forgetting Brett Favre? The Packers let him go in favor of Aaron Rodgers.

    Rodgers had been in their system for 3 years.

    They had a pretty good idea what they moving on with.

    .. that does not describe the Seahawks right now. They’d be flying blind.

  37. Is it somehow “wrong” for the Seahawks to not pay $30 million per year for Wilson?
    No, not wrong at all. On the contrary, it’s GOOD BUSINESS!
    At some point NFL owners need to stand up and stop the never-ending escalation of player salaries. In business, you try to minimize overhead in order to maximize profit.
    There will NEVER be a decent return on the investment in Wilson. Ever.
    The Seahawks are better off letting Wilson play out his deal and then replace him with a rookie or cheap bridge-type veteran QB.

  38. Passing up a proven QB like Wilson, for a probable rookie, is dumber than dirt. The various Brownies staffs, drafted a ton of QB’s, who all failed.

  39. Thought the Bucs should have offered Jameis Winston $15-$18M a year at his lowest last year, but cannot see the Bucs giving him $30M a year for 5 years next year. If they do they are going to have to gut their roster to pay one guy that we have seen the past 4 years not get over the hump.

  40. Trade him to The Giants for the 6th pick and a third rounder. Take Haskins or best D line player at 6 then Take QB or D line in 3rd depending on who you chose with 6th pick. Sign cheap Veteran QB for depth.

  41. trumploverblog says:
    April 12, 2019 at 10:53 pm
    Very good quarterback, not great, one super bowl with a great defense, but he will be the highest paid player in the leauge
    How great is a defense when it gives up 28 points in a Super Bowl? Fourteen in the second, and fourth quarters.

    Ya know, the two most important quarters of a game in which you shouldn’t give up points.

    That great defense blew a 10 point fourth quarter lead.

    That defense didn’t change drastically from SB48 to SB49.

  42. It is becoming a recurrent issue/ problem, not just for the Seahawks, but for all teams. The positional groups; QB, WR, EDGE and their respective salary structures are compromising the Cap. If you want to keep your guy, you have to pay them competitively.Otherwise, they leave as there is always a team out there who will pay. You just cannot field a competitive team when you dedicate 10 – 20% of your cap to one player. These players are “players” . They know exactly what the impact on their team will be if they get paid top dollar. Team concept is slowly being replaced by ” me”. Pay me!

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