NFL contract extensions can be viewed in two ways. Some look at the value of the new dollars attributed to the new years, ignoring whatever the player was due to make over the remainder of his prior commitment. Others look at the new contract for what it is — a brand new contract that replaces the old one. Some look at both.
For Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson, the contract has a value from signing (per Ian Rapoport of NFL Media) of five years and $157 million. That’s an average at signing of $31.4 million per year.
Setting aside the $17 million that Wilson would have made in 2019, the last year of his prior contract, the new money consists of $140 million over four years, which equates to a new-money average of $35 million per year.
The deal also reportedly includes a $65 million signing bonus and $107 million in total guarantees. As often is the case, the full guarantee at signing hasn’t leaked yet, since it will be lower than $107 million — and since many will in the interim see the report of $107 million in guarantees and erroneously conclude that this means the $107 million is fully guaranteed.
This conventional sleight of hand regarding the reporting of the deal meshes with the conventional structure of the deal. For all the huffing and puffing about a contract tied to inevitable increases in the salary cap, Wilson eventually accepted a very large bird in the hand, choosing the certainty of $31.4 million over the next five years.
Last last night, we heard that the deal, if it were done, would entail huge numbers but no funky structures, and that’s exactly what happened. It will now be left for another player on another team to take the Kirk Cousins franchise-tag dance to the next level; for Wilson, it was enough to convince the Seahawks that he was serious about doing that, if he didn’t become the highest-paid player in NFL history.
And now he is. At least for a year or two.