Former NFL agent Joel Corry offered some extensive thoughts on Russell Wilson's contract negotiations in a recent CBSSports.com piece on the seven biggest contract disputes in the NFL.
Until the minute it is done there figures to be endless discussion about Russell Wilson’s contract extension.
Former NFL agent Joel Corry, who now writes for CBSSports.com, weighed in with some extensive thoughts on the Wilson contract situation in this piece examining the seven biggest contract disputes currently at play in the NFL.
Corry writes that Wilson can well make a case to be the highest-paid player in the NFL and looks at the compensation of some of the other top quarterbacks in the NFL.
But then he mentions a point that can be easy to overlook that “contract structure could be as big of an issue as the overall compensation for Wilson.”
As Corry writes: “Seattle contracts typically are structured where the guaranteed money consists of base salary guarantees and a signing bonus. Approximately 30 percent of the guarantees are signing bonus with the team’s best players on long-term deals. Base salary guarantees after the first contract year are for injury only initially at signing in most instances, but become fully guaranteed five days after the start of the waiver period in each specific year. The waiver period always begins the day after the Super Bowl.
It may be necessary for the Seahawks to make structural concessions so Wilson is treated like quarterbacks with lucrative contracts. $40 million to $45 million is fully guaranteed at signing in top quarterback deals. These dynamics make Wilson playing out the final year of his four-year rookie contract for $1.542 million a distinct possibility. Wilson is the NFL’s biggest bargain. He has made a little under $2.2 million in his three NFL seasons.”
Corry then examines what would be some of the options if Wilson were to indeed play out the final year of his rookie contract without a new deal (something that is really worth worrying about if Wilson gets to training camp without a deal being done).
Writes Corry: “The Seahawks would have to decide whether to use a non-exclusive or an exclusive franchise tag on Wilson in 2016 if he plays out his contract. It would be a huge risk to place a non-exclusive franchise tag on Wilson because a team potentially in dire need of a quarterback with an abundance of salary cap room might be willing to give up two first-round picks by signing him to an offer sheet that the Seahawks could have a hard time matching. Negotiating with other teams is prohibited when the exclusive franchise tag is used.
Under the exclusive franchise tag, a player will receive a one year offer from his team that is the greater of the average of the top five salaries at his position once the restricted free agent signing period of the current year has ended (April 24 for 2015) or 120 percent of his prior year’s salary. The exclusive franchise tag currently projects to $25.18 million in 2016 but will decrease if any of the quarterbacks with the five highest 2016 salaries are released or rework contracts to lower salary cap numbers before the 2016 franchise tag designation period ends (March 2 this year). Based on the projected number, a second franchise tag for Wilson in 2017 would be $30.216 million, a 20 percent increase over his 2016 franchise number. A third franchise tag with a 44 percent increase over the 2017 figure would be unrealistic. The average of franchising Wilson twice exclusively, especially if he has another good season in 2015, could be used as justification for a long-term deal in excess of $25 million per year next offseason.”
That last point is the same one Corry made in an interview with last week — that the tags, while giving the Seahawks some assurance of keeping Wilson around for a few years, at some point also mean it would make more sense for the Seahawks to give him an unprecedented deal.
Corry also answers a question some fans have had about whether Wilson would consider holding out.
As he writes: “The Seahawks don’t have to worry about Wilson holding out. A year of service towards free agency isn’t earned when a player doesn’t report to his team at least 30 days prior to NFL’s first regular season game (August 11 reporting date this year). Missing this deadline and playing out his rookie deal would make Wilson a restricted free agent in 2016. The Seahawks would likely give him a restricted free agent tender where they would get a first-round pick, which will be between $3.522 million and $3.689 million next year, from a team signing him to an offer sheet that isn’t matched. Getting the year of service isn’t a concern for holdouts with four or more years of service. These players already have enough service time to qualify for unrestricted free agency.”