The Seahawks have reached an agreement with the quarterback, said to be a four-year extension worth $87.6 million, with a $31 million signing bonus and $60 million guaranteed.
RENTON — It was the 11th hour of the night of what was truly the 11th hour for the Seahawks and quarterback Russell Wilson when the deal that will keep the quarterback with the team through 2019 finally came together.
Wilson had told his agent, Mark Rodgers, that if an agreement was not struck by the opening of the team’s training camp Friday that talks regarding a contract extension would be suspended until the end of the season.
“People reported that it was an artificial deadline,’’ Rodgers said. “But to Russell Wilson, it was not an artificial deadline. He said to me, ‘When I step on the field, that’s it. If I’ve got a deal, great. But if I don’t, that’s it. I am not going to take that baggage out on the field with me. It’s going to take the team down. It’s what the media is going to concentrate on. … I took it as a mandate, and I laid it out for the Seahawks so they knew that a long time ago, and it certainly spurred where we are at now.’’
Where they are now is with a signed contract that makes Wilson the second-highest-paid player in the NFL, a four-year extension paying him $87.6 million that includes a $31 million signing bonus and $61.53 million guaranteed.
Rodgers called Wilson with the news that the agreement had been struck around 11 p.m. Thursday night after what had been four days of talks between Rodgers and Seahawks general manager John Schneider and the team’s salary cap expert, Matt Thomas. Wilson said he was laying in bed talking on the phone with his pop-star girlfriend, Ciara, when Rodgers called.
It was a call Wilson said he never doubted would come. A seemingly daily drizzle of reports about the talks had led to a summer of high anxiety in Seattle over the quarterback’s future (Could he really become a free agent in a year or two?).
“I was excited about it, you know,’’ Wilson said. “I’m always an optimist, an ultimate one. I was always believing that it would work out.’’
News of the deal broke shortly before 7 a.m. Friday, giving the beginning of camp even more of a celebratory feel, even if there remained one decidedly downcast note — the absence of strong safety Kam Chancellor, who made good on his promise to hold out as he seeks more money.
Chancellor is entering the third season of a contract that runs through 2017. He received a four-year, $28 million extension in 2013.
Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said he had talked to Chancellor but didn’t know when he would be back. The team can fine him up to $30,000 a day for missing practices.
“I don’t see it as disruptive at this point,’’ Carroll said. “But we miss him. It’s too early in the process to know the impact.’’
Mostly, though, the talk was about Wilson and a deal that allowed both sides to claim some measure of victory. The Seahawks held firm to their overall offer, keeping Wilson with a per-year new-money average of $21.9 million that leaves him just behind the $22 million of Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
Wilson’s side, meanwhile, was happy to get a four-year extension that will leave him with a chance to be a free agent at age 30, as well as guarantees that rank among the most in the NFL. Wilson’s $31 million bonus is by far the most given by the Seahawks (the previous high was $12 million to receiver Percy Harvin).
And the $61.53 million guarantee is the most in the NFL and a hair above the $60 million recently given to Carolina’s Cam Newton, which had been viewed as a benchmark Seattle would have to reach to get a deal done.
Of the bonus — Wilson will receive $20 million within 10 days and the rest April 1 — Rodgers said: “For these guys (the Seahawks) that was new ground.’’
Rodgers, though, said the ultimate tipping point was when the sides agreed on four years for the length of the extension, added on to his current deal that runs through this season.
“When we decided that’s what it was going to be, it was going to be four years, we were really able to dig in and get the deal done,’’ he said. “It puts him in here at 30 years old, he is going into the last year of his contract. So it puts you in a situation where he is still a young man and he gets an opportunity maybe to talk about another contract down the road. You don’t do a contract necessarily thinking about the next contract. But I think there is a big difference between doing a four-year extension and a five-year extension — that’s a long year. That’s a bit of a goal and we got there, so we were pleased with that.’’
Wilson’s base salaries are $700,000 in 2015, $12.34 million in 2016, $12.6 million in 2017, $15.5 million in 2018 and $17 million in 2019. The contract structure leaves Seattle with just over $4 million in cap room for 2015 .
The contract consists of solely the bonuses and salary with no other incentives.
The salary-cap hits are $7,054,868 million in 2015, with the base salary reduced to $700,000 help the immediate cap hit and, the team hopes, allows it to sign linebacker Bobby Wagner to an extension. The salary-cap hit increases to $18.5 million in 2016, $18.8 million in 2017, $21.7 million in 2018 and $23.2 million in 2019.
Rodgers said the gap between the sides remained fairly wide when the week began.
Asked what allowed the sides to finally come together, Rodgers said “what typically gets every deal done — there is deadline, and there is compromise.’’
Ultimately, Rodgers said it was “a dream come true’’ for Wilson.
“There was some consternation, some anxiety involved,’’ Rodgers said. “But thankfully we got it done.’’