Though there haven’t been many specific details surface concerning Russell Wilson’s negotiations with the Seahawks on a contract extension, there has been plenty of speculation. So here’s the basics of the situation with answers to some frequently asked questions.
Though there haven’t been many specific details surface concerning quarterback Russell Wilson’s negotiations with the Seahawks on a contract extension, there has been plenty of speculation.
So here’s our attempt to cut through the potentially dizzying conjecture and lay out the basics of the situation with answers to some frequently asked questions:
What is Wilson’s current contract situation?
Wilson is entering the final season of the initial four-year contract he signed with Seattle after he was taken in the third round of the 2012 NFL draft.
That contract calls for him to receive just over $1.5 million in 2015. That contract required no negotiation, with the years and dollar values set via the NFL collective-bargaining agreement reached in 2012. However, those contracts can be extended after the third season. A contract extension could alter Wilson’s salary for 2015. But whatever happens, he will play in 2015 for the Seahawks.
What has the team offered Wilson?
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Here’s where we get into the gray area. With neither side required to say anything publicly, much is left to reports that cite anonymous sources.
An ESPN report stated that the Seahawks are “believed’’ to have offered Wilson $80 million over four years. That offer, though, would start after the 2015 season, meaning Wilson would play the next five years at an average less than $20 million per season.
Most other reports haven’t included specific numbers, stating only that initial offers are thought to be less than Wilson’s apparent desire to be paid among the highest-salaried quarterbacks in the NFL. The two highest-paid quarterbacks, by average yearly salary, are Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers at $22 million and Pittsburgh’s Ben Roethlisberger at $21.85 million.
Regardless of the specifics of the offer, it’s regarded as a starting point by both sides. That led to reports that the sides are far apart. That could be both true and not alarming.
Why not just pay Wilson what he wants?
That’s a common question considering Wilson led the Seahawks to their first Super Bowl title and two appearances in just three years in the league.
But the tricky part of any NFL contract negotiation for teams is fitting it into the league’s salary cap. In 2015, teams have $143.28 million to fund their entire roster, which includes 53 active players.
Long-term and potentially costly extensions can be even dicier, because teams have to work those out without knowing exactly how the cap will increase each year, only that it will. The cap increased roughly $10 million from 2013 to 2014.
Why wouldn’t Wilson just accept what the Seahawks offer given how successful the team has been?
That’s the flip side to the “just pay him’’ crowd — that Wilson should take a lesser offer to help the team. And comments from team officials and Wilson shortly after the season might have led some to assume that would happen.
But the reality is players rarely accept less money. And Wilson and his agent, Mark Rodgers, are under no more obligation to help the team than the Seahawks are to just give Wilson what he wants.
Is the per-year average all that matters?
No. Just as much of a factor is what the Seahawks offer in guaranteed money and signing bonuses. NFL contracts are not guaranteed the way they are in most other sports. There had been some initial conjecture that the Seahawks might be able to get away with paying Wilson a little less by guaranteeing most or all of his contract. But that is not something they are considering (one factor for all teams in making those decisions is that NFL rules require teams to fully fund guarantees with the league office up front).
What’s with the talk of placing a franchise tag on Wilson?
NFL rules allow for teams to place a franchise tag on one player per season. And if the Seahawks and Wilson cannot work out a contract for 2016, they could place what is called an Exclusive Rights Franchise Tag on him and assure he plays with the team that season. That likely would pay him $25 million or so (exact numbers are worked out later and are no less than the average of the top five-paid players at that position as of April of the contract year, or 120 percent of the player’s previous year’s salary, whichever is greater).
Players slapped with exclusive-rights tags cannot negotiate with other teams. The Seahawks could place that same tag on Wilson in 2017 (at a raise of 20 percent, taking the salary to over $30 million, and at a raise of 44 percent in 2018, a salary of more than $40 million). Those numbers, though, count fully against the cap, a hit the Seahawks likely would want to avoid.
So is there any deadline for when things have to get done?
Officially, no. Players can sign contracts at any time. Unofficially, those close to the situation point to the beginning of training camp in late July as a critical time to watch. Teams and players usually want to have contract situations resolved before the season begins so as not to be distracted. So though fans might feel like this already has dragged on, the reality is that the time for any real worry is a couple of months away.
|Highest-paid NFL quarterbacks|
|Will Russell Wilson be among the NFL’s richest QBs? Here’s a look at the top five QB salaries in 2014, in terms of a yearly average of their current contracts:|
|1. Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay||$22M|
|2. Matt Ryan, Atlanta||$20.75M|
|3. Joe Flacco, Baltimore||$20.1M|
|4. Drew Brees, New Orleans||$20M|
|5. Peyton Manning, Denver||$19.2M|
|Source: Sports Illustrated|