An NFL Network report this week makes clear both the Seahawks and Russell Wilson are already thinking about his pending contract talks.
Seahawks general manager John Schneider’s attendance at Wyoming quarterback Josh Allen’s pro day two weeks ago did not go unnoticed by Seattle’s current quarterback.
The NFL Network’s Jim Trotter said in a segment aired Wednesday that Russell Wilson’s “camp’’ — presumably a reference to agent Mark Rodgers or someone else within the agency — called the Seahawks and asked what it meant for Wilson that the team was scouting a quarterback expected to be among the top players taken in the 2018 NFL Draft, and asked “if there is anything we need to know.’’
As Trotter emphasized, this doesn’t appear to mean anything for the 2018 season.
What it appears to be, instead, is an early peek into what could be pretty contentious contract negotiations between the two sides a year from now, with each side possibly sending off something of an opening salvo — Seattle is letting it be known it’s exploring quarterback options even if there may be no realistic way to really get Allen. (Schneider also openly talked about wanting to see Allen during an ESPN 710 radio interview). Wilson’s camp appears to have let a national media member know it’s taking note.
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Wilson has two years left on a four-year contract worth up to $87.5 million that he signed prior to the 2015 season.
The Seahawks’ usual M.O. under Pete Carroll and Schneider has been to re-up their core players prior to the final year of their contract, and no one is more core than Wilson.
That means a year from now, things are going to seriously start happening on the Wilson/Seahawks front.
It may be easy to forget now that the last negotiations with Wilson were hardly smooth, with months of speculation about Wilson’s camp potentially playing hardball enough that Seattle might be forced to use the franchise tag.
Ultimately, things were worked out just before training camp started — which was apparently an internal deadline of Wilson’s, who didn’t want to deal with it during the season — in part when Seattle agreed to a four-year extension instead of five. That allowed Wilson to potentially hit free agency a year earlier, and when he will have just turned 31, still in the prime of his career.
The unspoken subtext then was that while Wilson was happy enough to secure his future for the time being with the Seahawks, who were then coming off their second straight Super Bowl — and also assuring he would get money that would set him up for life — anything was possible down the road.
As Trotter also noted, that means the 2018 season — which already looms as pivotal in a number of other different aspects — could go a long way toward determining what happens next.
For the first time in Wilson’s career, the Seahawks made significant changes to the offensive coaching staff this offseason, firing coordinator Darrell Bevell and line coach Tom Cable and replacing them with Brian Schottenheimer and Mike Solari. The Seahawks also moved QB coach Carl Smith, a favorite of Wilson’s, to an associate head coach role and then moved receivers coach Dave Canales to the QB coach position.
While there were a lot of factors behind the changes, Carroll reiterated at the NFL league meetings last month that he hopes the new staff will get even more out of Wilson, who struggled with inconsistency despite tying a team-record with 34 touchdown passes last season.
“He is still in the middle of his formative years, and he’s got improvement ahead of him,’’ Carroll said of Wilson last week in Orlando, Fla. “I know he sees it that way as well, and we’re pushing to keep finding that. The new relationship with Brian is going to be really important to him. Brian is going to challenge him in many ways, and Russell will challenge Brian in many ways. It’ll be really good for both guys, and we’re all looking forward to it. We’re just trying to get a little bit better.”
That “new relationship’’ also figures to be vitally important to Wilson’s future with the Seahawks.
If it goes well and the Seattle offense rebounds and the team gets back to the playoffs and everyone involved sees a lot of hope down the road, then it becomes a lot easier for each side to commit to the other. Wilson is going to want a contract that puts him among the top-paid QBs in the NFL, and given that the likes of Aaron Rodgers and Matt Ryan could also sign deals soon, one that might approach or top $30 million a year.
But if the offensive changes don’t take, the Seahawks careen, and even the future of Carroll — who also has just two years left on his deal — comes into doubt, then either or both parties might decide it’s time to move on.
As Trotter said “if things don’t go well this year. … perhaps then he (Wilson) says ‘maybe this isn’t a good fit if this is a rebuilding situation here’ and maybe he tries to push the button to move on after that.’’
Trotter then mentioned the Los Angeles Chargers as a possible trade partner, something Wilson — who has taken to spending much of his offseason in southern California — likely wouldn’t protest.
Yep, there’s a lot on the line in 2018.