As a deadline Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson set for Monday to get a new contract comes ever closer, several reports over the last 24 hours indicated that talks between the two sides have intensified.
Most telling was a tweet late Saturday afternoon from Jake Heaps, a former Skyline High standout who not only was a teammate of Wilson’s with the Seahawks for parts of two seasons but is now a coach at Wilson’s RWQBAcademy.
Heaps’ tweet stated that Wilson’s agent, Mark Rodgers, and Seahawks general manager John Schneider, “have been meeting for several hours the past couple days” and, “hopefully there’ll be great news for all Seahawks fans if they can lock up” Wilson and that, “Time will tell.”
Another former Seahawk QB, Brock Huard, who among other duties works as part of the Seahawks’ broadcast team during the preseason, tweeted Saturday afternoon “I’m hearing the tempo is being picked up in talks between Russ & the Seahawks.”
Another indication of some potential progress came Friday night in a report from Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network that “there’s been a little movement. They are working on it. Still too early to tell whether or not a deal gets done (by Monday).” Rapoport’s report came a few hours after Wilson cryptically tweeted “Just the Beginning. The Best is Ahead” with a praying hands emoji.
Wilson’s deal runs through the 2019 season and pays him a base salary of $17 million in 2019 with a salary-cap hit of $25.286 million as part of a four-year, $87.6 million contract signed on July 31, 2015.
That contract also just beat a deadline, agreed to the night before training camp opened.
This time, Wilson wanted an earlier deadline to avoid an offseason of speculation and discussion about his future as well as thinking that nothing was going to change in the quarterback market over the next few months, so there was no reason to not get the deal done now.
The Seattle Times first reported the existence of a deadline April 2. Wilson set Monday as the deadline because it is the first day of the Seahawks’ official offseason workout program.
Wilson’s current contract made him the second-highest paid player at the time it was signed, averaging $21.9 million per season. He was behind only the $22 million of Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
Wilson has since fallen to being the 14th highest-paid player and 12th highest-paid QB, according to OvertheCap.com. Rodgers is still at the top of the list but is now averaging $33.5 million per season.
Rapoport reported that two hang-ups in negotiations were guarantees and structure.
Guaranteed money was an issue last time as well as Wilson agreed to fully guaranteed money of $31.7 million (in the form of a signing bonus and his 2o15 base salary) as well as future guarantees that totaled more than $61 million.
Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan signed a new contract last May guaranteeing him $94.2 million, the most of any NFL player in history. Kirk Cousins signed a fully guaranteed contract with the Vikings last year of $84 million.
Wilson may be hoping for a deal that would include guarantees topping that of Ryan while possibly matching that of Cousins in being fully guaranteed.
Wilson is also likely hoping for an average salary greater than that of Rodgers. One way or the other, he is sure to want a contract that sets a benchmark.
Last time, Wilson and the Seahawks settled at the last minute on a four-year contract instead of five, and years could again also be a sticking point.
Wilson will turn 31 in November, and if his contract were to expire this year he could potentially become an unrestricted free agent a year from now still in the prime of his career, a rarity for a franchise-level quarterback. That is unlikely since the Seahawks would almost certainly use its franchise tag to keep Wilson in 2020 and likely again in 2021.
Those deals — if the Seahawks used the tag each year — would total roughly $67 million, and along with the $17 million Wilson is owed in 2019, the thought is any discussion of any new deal would have to include guarantees more than that total of $84 million.
As former NFL agent Joel Corry has noted, the Seahawks also have not fully guaranteed the second year of any contract since signing Percy Harvin in 2013.
That’s a precedent the Seahawks might have to break to get a deal done with Wilson.
As for years, Wilson might want a shorter-term deal to potentially hit free agency when he is 34 or 35. It’s unclear how long the Seahawks might want to go with a deal considering coach Pete Carroll has only three more years on his.
If the deadline passes, the thought is Wilson will not negotiate again until after the 2019 season. It’s not believed Wilson would hold out or skip any of the team’s offseason program, which is technically voluntary.
Wilson, a third-round pick in 2012, had his best statistical season in 2018 with a career-high 35 touchdown passes while tying a career-low in interceptions with seven, setting a career high in passer rating at 110.9.
He also set several significant franchise records last season, notably becoming the winningest QB in Seahawks history with 75 in the regular season and 83 overall. His 75 wins are also the most for any QB in NFL history in the first seven seasons of his career.