There is no shortage of relevant topics to discuss when it comes to the Seahawks these days, notably Russell Wilson’s contract situation, so let’s get to answering some questions on that and some other issues in our latest Twitter mailbag.
A: I’ll start with the first part of that and address the rest as we go. And I’ll admit that I really have no idea if a deal is going to get done by April 15 while pointing out that most of the time, deals do get done. There was an awful lot of conjecture and speculation and back-and-forth last time, and ultimately, a deal got done paying Wilson about what everyone expected at about the time everyone expected it to happen. And deadlines tend to spur action, as our Larry Stone wrote this week in predicting that he thinks something will get done. So maybe Wilson setting a deadline of April 15 will help create some urgency.
As was reported by several outlets Wednesday and confirmed to The Seattle Times, the Seahawks were informed of the deadline in January. But big contracts such as Wilson’s are ones the team is always preparing for in some way — Seattle GM John Schneider always talks of the multiyear models the team has for roster construction. A general assumption was that the Seahawks might have preferred to wait until deeper into the offseason to negotiate seriously, as happened last time. But Wilson wants to get it over with to avoid distractions in the offseason and his side also may just think that the market is not going to change over the next 3-4 market so if the offer is going to be the same now or 3-4 months from now, why wait?
As for Wilson’s desire to be in Seattle, I think he has every desire to be in Seattle for as long as he thinks the team is committed to him. He just invested in a new gym in Bellevue last week, among all kinds of business interests in the area. I don’t think anything happening now is aimed at trying to get out of Seattle.
But all players always want what they think they deserve. And Wilson has every right to think he deserves a contract paying him at the top of the market for quarterbacks — and hence, for any NFL player.
The next long-term contract Wilson signs will be the one that takes him through what could be the last big chunk of the prime years of his career — he’ll be 31 in November, so a four-year extension would mean he wouldn’t start another new contract until he’s 36.
So this is basically the best position Wilson is going to ever be in to get the kind of contract that can really set him apart — and it’s worth remembering that the competitiveness that we all love in athletes on the field doesn’t magically turn off when they step outside the lines. My hunch is Wilson is shooting to get something here that will include some sort of a marquee number, be it becoming the first player to make $35 million a year (Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers is the highest-paid player in the NFL at the moment at $33.5 million per year), or the first player to get $100 million guaranteed at signing (Atlanta’s Matt Ryan has the record there at $94.5 million).
Either of those might be enough to get the job done.
But if not, then Wilson could well just play out 2019 and then the Seahawks could enact franchise tags in 2020 and 2021, a scenario that has been often-speculated in recent months and was articulated again Wednesday by Pro Football Talk.
As PFT noted, if you take Wilson’s 2019 salary ($17 million) as well as the 2020 and 2021 tag numbers ($30.34 million and $36.4 million, respectively), that gets you to a guaranteed $83.74 million over the next three seasons with Wilson then likely becoming a free agent following the 2021 season, when he would turn 33 years old (the Seahawks wouldn’t logically tag Wilson again in 2022 at what would be estimated to be almost $53 million for one season.)
That’s a scenario that the Wilson camp may be OK with, but also one that helps set the baseline for what the Seahawks have to offer. But Seattle has long known what it’s going to take to get this done seeing how the QB market has continued to develop with the contracts over the last year to the likes of Rodgers and Ryan, which helped reset the precedents for average per year and guarantee.
But for the Seahawks, there is also still the balancing act of how to structure it so the team can also then re-sign Bobby Wagner, Frank Clark and Jarran Reed, which are also all thought goals for Seattle this offseason.
But if Wilson feels Seattle is committed to him then I don’t think anyone has to worry about Wilson’s commitment to Seattle. He’s never missed so much as a practice in seven years with the Seahawks. I don’t think that’s going to suddenly change.
A: No. I’ve gotten variations of this question before and answered the same every time — no.
The hardest and most valuable thing to find in pro sports, in my opinion, is a franchise quarterback in the NFL. Once you have one, you do what it takes to keep him.
Seattle’s last two first-round picks are Germain Ifedi and Rashaad Penny. So think of it that way — would you trade Russell Wilson for Germain Ifedi and Rashaad Penny?
And I know the “yeah but” to that, which is that you could take the money you’d pay Wilson to either beef up the rest of the team and/or go find another QB. But just finding another QB isn’t all that easy, as the Vikings (Kirk Cousins) and Broncos (Cousins to Case Keenum) — to name two teams — have found out in recent years. (And spare me the “all Russell does is hand off” stuff. Anyone who says that, I usually think, doesn’t watch more than highlights of Seahawks games, if that).
And simply saying “we’ll pay five other good players what we’d pay Wilson” sounds a lot easier in theory than it is to pull off in practice. As Seattle fans have seen, players whom teams really want to keep don’t become available on the open market in their really good prime years. The “winners” of free agency in March are often on the outside looking in come January.
If you’ve got a franchise QB, keep him — that’s the simplest route to assuring consistent contention in the NFL. Seattle does have one, which is why I think ultimately something will probably get done.
That said, if the Seahawks don’t think they can get anything done — and don’t want to go the franchise tag route — then they will undoubtedly consider trades. But I think that’s a real last resort here.
A: Maybe. Certainly, the knowledge that they are likely go get four compensatory picks in 2020 for free-agent losses suffered so far this year gives them some flexibility. As you note, they can’t trade those specific picks now. But they could trade their own third in 2020 knowing they are likely to get a third-rounder as compensation heading into next year’s draft.
But I also think likely having the four comp picks can work another way in that Seattle could view this as a two-draft cycle in which they have 15 picks overall to work with over the next two years. Seattle has an overall young roster right now that may not be all that easy to crack at a lot of positions. So I think it still comes down to just trying to get the best player at each spot. Maybe Seattle really does see a guy at 21 who is that much better than what they’d get at 35 that it negates the value in moving down? I think Seattle will keep all options open as draft day approaches.
A: I guess the question here revolves a lot around what are the expectations for a backup QB in Seattle. Wilson has essentially missed one play in his career due to injury — the one snap he had to come off the field for a quick concussion test at Arizona in 2017.
A team in Seattle’s position is just never going to spend all that much on a backup QB, which means any backup they have on the roster is either going to be young and unproven (the Trevone Boykin model) or a vet who has bounced around and doesn’t have a lot of other options (Austin Davis). It just doesn’t make cap sense to spend all that much (which is why they moved on from Tarvaris Jackson in 2016 when even his relatively minuscule salary began to be more than they felt like it made sense to pay for a player they hoped and figured would never see the field).
Lynch has only been with one team, so who knows? Maybe Seattle’s system proves to be a better fit than Denver’s did (that’s the case stated by his agent, Leigh Steinberg). And maybe also the year away from the game and simply being a little older will make a difference, too.
But Seattle will add at least one more QB to the roster between now and the beginning of OTAs in mid-May, and maybe two, and undoubtedly will scour the ranks of undrafted rookie free agents and then any other vets who might become available. But I wouldn’t expect a heavy investment in either as long as Wilson is around. Who knows? Maybe they go get a Jake Browning or Gardner Minshew to add some local flavor to it? But again, you’re talking about a backup here — there’s no logical finding of someone to actually compete with Wilson that makes sense at this point.