Could the Patriots have competed for Super Bowl after Super Bowl had Tom Brady signed nothing but market-value contracts? Maybe, but it's hard to think they'd be this consistently excellent.
I’ve heard it talked about some. And I’m sure it’s been thought about often. By fans. By the Seahawks. By the quarterback himself.
Should Russell Wilson take less money so Seattle can retain more talent?
Serious question. But complicated, too.
If you haven’t noticed, a QB’s paycheck can barely fit in the bank these days. Aaron Rodgers averages $33.5 million annually, Matt Ryan makes $30 million and Kirk Cousins $28 million.
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Given that Wilson, 30, just had another great season and owns the second-best passer rating ever (behind Rodgers), he might end up receiving a $35 million-a-year extension offer before the season begins.
Worth it for the Seahawks? Seeing that it’s nearly impossible to compete for a championship without an elite quarterback, yeah, it is probably. But what if Wilson provided them with the proverbial “hometown discount?” What if he figured that, in this situation, less is more?
Business Insider recently estimated that Tom Brady has given up about $60 million over his career so that the Patriots can fill their needs in other areas on the roster. Now, he’s about to play in his ninth Super Bowl after his 16th 10-win season.
Could the Pats have competed for Super Bowls had Brady signed a market-value contract? Maybe, but it’s hard to think they’d be this consistently excellent. And seeing how Brady still has earned more than $200 million over his career, it’s hard to think he’s missing the money when he’s considered the best to ever play.
(That and the fact that his wife is the breadwinner.)
But just because Brady made a decision doesn’t mean Wilson or any other player should follow suit. Football is the most violent team sport in the world, and can snatch up a career with one big hit.
This is why Earl Thomas sat out of training camp and complained about not getting an extension offer before breaking his leg in Week 4. This is why Kam Chancellor, however irrationally, sat out the first two games of the 2015 season.
Regardless of profession, regardless of pay scale, you can’t begrudge someone for getting every penny of what they’re worth. Even if it’s a ridiculous figure like $35 million, it’s still $35 million that they earned.
Still, it’s worth pointing out a recent Washington Post article, which showed that the six highest paid quarterbacks in the league all missed the playoffs this year. There’s nuance to this, as one of those QBs was the injured Jimmy Garoppolo, and the seventh-highest paid was Drew Brees, whose Saints had the best regular season in the NFL.
But the data can’t be dismissed outright.
The dream scenario for most GMs is a stud quarterback on a rookie contract. You can build around those guys with particularly shiny objects.
The Eagles won a Super Bowl last year with second-year QB Carson Wentz behind center most the season, and the Rams and Chiefs are set up nicely with Jared Goff and Patrick Mahomes.
Of course, that doesn’t mean you can’t win big games after shelling out big bucks for a quarterback. The Broncos were one of the best teams in football after signing Peyton Manning, and won a Super Bowl against the Panthers after Cam Newton was extended.
You need a top-tier QB in this league to win, and the Seahawks need to keep Wilson. No one is questioning that. And if Wilson does sign a $35 million deal, he shouldn’t hear a cry of criticism — even if he’s in the midst of an $87 million contract right now.
Just know that, from Frank Clark to Bobby Wagner, there are some expensive pieces the Seahawks need to hold on to in order to stay competitive. If they can’t pay the guys they want to, Pete Carroll and John Schneider basically have to nail the draft.
Can they? Sure. Would they like some margin for error? Definitely.
I don’t think it’s one’s place to say how another man should handle money. Whether it’s Wilson or any other athlete, entertainer or entrepreneur — it’s that person’s life and that person’s family. Plus, you don’t want to create a scenario where future quarterbacks feel pressure to take less for fear of looking selfish.
It’s interesting to think about, though.
Brady is a couple weeks away from trying to win his sixth Super Bowl for a team that made 13 AFC championship games in 18 years. Ridiculous.
But while some would argue that Brady’s right arm has been the Patriots’ most valuable asset, it might actually be his right hand.
You know, the one that signs the contracts.