The agent for Russell Wilson, Mark Rodgers, talked at length about negotiations with the Seahawks.
The agent for Russell Wilson on Thursday morning called contract talks with the Seahawks “encouraging” but added that there is no deadline for reaching a deal and that the quarterback would be fine with playing out his contract.
Mark Rodgers made the comments during a wide-ranging, roughly 30-minute interview (you can hear it here) on the Brock and Salk Show on ESPN 710 Seattle. Rodgers also said Wilson will be back on the field for the Seahawks’ next OTA on Friday after missing the first two this week to attend funerals for tight end Jimmy Graham’s personal manager and surrogate mother and defensive end Cliff Avril’s father. The latter is Thursday in Jacksonville, Fla.
Wilson and the team have been in talks to extend his contract, the four-year rookie deal he signed after being selected in the third round of the 2012 NFL draft. The contract runs out after the 2015 season and will pay him $1.5 million this year.
Rodgers, in his first public comments on the Wilson negotiations, mostly avoided specifics regarding the talks or what Wilson is seeking, though he he said “95 percent” of what has been reported is “off base.”
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“I would characterize our talks as ongoing, fluid, robust at times, thoughtful,” Rodgers said. “And we’ve made progress. … I would characterize them as positive and encouraging.”
But Rodgers didn’t dismiss the idea that Wilson could play out the 2015 season without a new deal.
Rodgers said there is no deadline for reaching a deal and noted that Wilson has taken steps to be prepared financially for not having a new deal this year.
“There really are no deadlines,’’ he said, adding that Wilson would be “absolutely fine’’ playing this season without a new deal.
“Financially, we planned long term for him to play for the $1.5 million dollars (in 2015),” Rodgers said. “So there isn’t any expectation of additional money coming in from the Seattle Seahawks this coming year.”
He added that Wilson doesn’t have a mortgage or car payment.
“ … Russell Wilson’s under contract with the Seahawks, and he absolutely, if he has to, would certainly be fine playing his fourth year under a four-year contract that he signed coming out, and then moving on from there.”
Rodgers noted that the Seahawks could be similarly patient because the strictest reading of the collective-bargaining agreement means they could slap franchise tags on Wilson for the 2016-18 seasons (those explained here and here) to keep him in a Seahawks uniform. But those single-year salaries would become increasingly salary-cap prohibitive.
When asked if Wilson wants to be the NFL’s highest-paid player, Rodgers said that wasn’t necessarily important, adding there is “danger in getting caught up in those labels. They are fun to write about and talk about, but from my perspective you don’t go into it with that as the goal. What you want to do is at the end of the day, I work for Russell and … my goal is when he is finished, he is satisfied with that result, whatever that result is.’’
Ultimately, he said Wilson would like a deal that “makes him feel comfortable with the compensation he’s receiving for the skill and the performance that he’s delivering.”
Rodgers said Wilson is “very, very happy’’ playing in Seattle. But Rodgers, who has handled primarily baseball players until taking over Wilson’s football negotiations, noted that he is “a huge proponent of a free-agent, open-market-sports economy’’ and that “our history is our players we have taken to free agency have done very, very well.’’
But he said “you have to have a special kind of client to do that’’ noting that Wilson “would love to stay there (Seattle) for a long time.’’
As for which aspects of the contract are important, Rodgers said everything is “relevant. They are all in play’’ and that the “key for us is to get a deal that is reasonable.’’
Rodgers described the talks as respectful throughout, saying “none of our conversations have been threatening at all.’’
Asked about the statement this year from Seattle general manager John Schneider that the team would look “outside the box’’ in getting a deal done with Wilson — which some took as the team hoping Wilson could agree to a cap-friendly deal — Rodgers said “I don’t begrudge John for wanting to do that. John and I have a very professional relationship, and I certainly understand what he is trying to do. … I appreciate John having said those things publicly, because it gave me a sense of what he was thinking long before I heard them personally.’’
As for whether he would characterize the talks as optimistic, Rodgers said “as long as I’m talking with the Seahawks it’s with a tone of optimism. … The goal here is at the end of the day we have a successful negotiation with the Seahawks.’’
As for Wilson’s desire to attend the two funerals this week, Rodgers said it came in part to Wilson having lost his own father, Harrison, while in college.
Seeing others lose parents or parental figures early, he said, “resonates a little bit more profound at times with Russell, obviously lost his father young. … he takes it personal and feels like he needs to be there. … It says a lot about him but also says a lot about the culture of the Seattle Seahawks that they encourage it and promote it.’’
Rodgers added that Wilson is “doing fine’’ but that “it’s been an emotionally rough week for Russell.’’