The way Russell Wilson views it, the contract he signed Wednesday with the Seahawks isn’t just for the next five years but for the rest of his career.
Sure, things can change, and who knows for sure what the future holds.
But as Wilson entered talks with the Seahawks on a new contract, he took stock of where he was — 30 years old, and having played seven NFL seasons, smack in the prime of what is surely a Hall of Fame career. And he realized that the next five years were going to be the five that would ultimately define not only his future, but the legacy he will one day leave behind.
If he were ever going to have to make a move in his football career, the time would be now, while there would still be time to create some history somewhere else.
So he told agent Mark Rodgers as they began negotiations with the Seahawks on a new contract a few months ago he wanted to make sure they got it right, which is why it took until eight minutes before a self-imposed deadline for a new contract with the Seahawks to finally get done.
“I told him what was most important was I just turned 30 years old,’’ Wilson said. “I think the next 10 years of my life, the next deal was going to be the place where ‘Hey, if we’re going to be in Seattle, wherever it’s going to be, I want to make sure that’s where I’m going to be for the next 10-12 years hopefully.’’’
And the way Wilson sees it, putting ink to paper Wednesday on a four-year extension that will pay him an average of $35 million for the years 2020-2023 — the most in NFL history — pretty much assures that he will finish his career where he began it.
“It’s just because really from the beginning of my professional career, it started here and my goal was to end it here,’’ Wilson said. “To leave a lasting impression on this city. … I want to be a Seahawk for life. That was kind of my mentality.’’
During a news conference Wednesday to officially announce and celebrate his new contract, Wilson said it was at 11:52 p.m. Monday when he finally got the call from Rodgers, who told him, “Hey, I think we got a deal done.’’
The final sticking point was a no-trade clause.
To Wilson’s side, it represented not only a commitment by the Seahawks to Wilson, but also one that allows Wilson to have some control of his future if it ever got to that point — he would have to consent to being traded. Such clauses are rare — Philip Rivers of the Chargers is one of the few players in recent years known to have gotten one.
But the way Wilson, coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider portrayed it Wednesday, the clause was really no big deal in the end.
“We want him to be here for life, right?’’ Schneider said of Wilson, who posed happily afterward for pictures with wife Ciara and their two children, having arrived to applause from dozens of Seahawks employees and teammates that included Bobby Wagner and Duane Brown.
They also simply wanted to do what they felt was best for the franchise as a whole.
“It was extremely important,’’ to get the contract done now, Carroll said. “For the continuity of this program, for the continuity of the following, all the fans who have known who we are and how we like to play, and Russ has ignited an energy about the games that we play and the style from the offensive side. I thought it was really important for us. We think we have a really good team and we’re really fired up about it, and to be able to maintain this continuity was extremely important for us.’’
But that didn’t mean the Seahawks didn’t want to stick to some of their core contractual principles if they could.
And that’s why the negotiations grew as intense as they did, with Wilson having told the Seahawks in January that he wanted it done by April 15, and then the talks going until almost the very last minute.
Rodgers arrived in Seattle on Friday and spent most of the next four days negotiating with Schneider and Seahawks salary cap expert Matt Thomas, with Jody Allen — now heading up the ownership following the death in October of her brother, Paul — keeping a close tab on things.
Wilson confirmed the idea for a deadline was his, noting that in 2015, when he signed a four-year, $87.6 million deal, he did so the day training camp opened.
“I remember the first time, (with) the other contract, it was one of those things that took us all the way to the summertime, right before training camp — literally to 11:50 that night and everything else,’’ he said. “The next day, we were practicing. For me, and for everyone involved really — the whole organization — it was really more so of a ‘Hey, let’s make sure we don’t have to drag out this whole process.’ Everybody writing, everybody talking, everybody speculating, these thoughts and these thoughts. Let’s remain focused on what I really want: winning. Let’s do everything we can to prepare in that way.’’
While some may have viewed Wilson’s deadline as sort of holding an “or-else’’ gun to the Seahawks’ collective head, Schneider said he welcomed having a timeline.
“I mean, like Russ said, the April 15 deal for us was a good idea,’’ he said. “The last one, quite frankly, took too long and took a lot of energy away from what we’re supposed to be doing. We thought it was a good idea on their part and worked out for both sides because we had to know what was going on, be able to clear our minds and be right.’’
Reports emerged as the sides talked that Rodgers wanted to tie the contract to percentages of future salary caps, something never before done, to assure that the deal would stay at the top of the market. And there was a later report that he wanted the Seahawks to put it in writing that Wilson could not receive a franchise tag following the 2023 season, also something that apparently would have set an NFL precedent.
The Seahawks reportedly declined those options, though Schneider on Wednesday also declined to go into detail about most specifics of the talks.
In the end, it was a fairly conventionally structured deal, with the no-trade clause viewed as the last hurdle.
“What it really came down to — we really talked about it: Mark, Pete, Matt, Jody, everybody — we talked about the idea of a no-trade clause just because we really wanted to be here,’’ Wilson said. “That was the thing we were really excited about and that’s kind of what sealed the deal for us. I was really fired up about it.’’
A few minutes later, he then fired up the famous video and tweet informing Seahawks nation he was staying.
Wilson said the idea for the video was his, noting with a smile that “I saw everybody was still up.’’
The news conference Wednesday also allowed for some time to look back. Schneider recalled taking Wilson in the third round in 2012 and that he had “a very, very, very strong conviction’’ that the pick would work.
But he also laughed that Paul Allen, calling in to get informed of the selection, responded, “So you took the little guy, huh?’’
It was a pick generally met with shrugs around the NFL, and a few who outright panned it.
No one that day could have foreseen that it was Wilson who would one day set a record for an NFL payday, his contract also including a record $107 million in guarantees.
“I never thought about being the highest-paid player,’’ Wilson said. “I always did believe I’d hopefully be a great winner, though.’’
And if he’s won a lot already — one Super Bowl and 75 games, the most for any quarterback in his first seven NFL seasons — he insists there’s a lot more to come.
And all in Seattle.
“The guys I’ve always admired in sports, the guys that played at (their) locations for 15-20 years, guys like Derek Jeter, I want to be like that,’’ he said. “I want to be remembered in that sense of what we want to do here in Seattle. So we’re just getting started.’’
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