If the Seahawks' star QB doesn’t click with the new coaches or feels that the team still hasn't done enough to build an offensive line to protect him or a running game to complement him, well, this could get interesting.
This is a time of delicate balance for the Seahawks. They are trying to straddle the line between reshaping the roster and stripping it of so much talent and personality that they can’t avoid a tailspin.
They have revamped and, they hope, reinvigorated the coaching staff with eight changes, including a new offensive and defensive coordinator, yet will try to maintain the essence of coach Pete Carroll’s unique sensibility.
And, it appears, they are trying to push and challenge quarterback Russell Wilson to a new level of achievement at the precise juncture when both Wilson and the Seahawks are girding for what will almost inevitably be difficult, potentially contentious, contract negotiations.
That last one might prove to be the most difficult balance of all — and inextricably linked to the other two. The extent to which the roster shuffle succeeds, and the rapport which Wilson develops with the new staff, could be influential in forging a productive tenor to the talks.
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Let me intercede here to say that few expect this all to end with anything but a long-term extension for Wilson, whose contract has two more years left. Yet just one season remains before the traditional time to work all this out, which would be after the 2018, but before the 2019, season.
In other words, the wild ride is about to begin, and so it’s not surprising that even small signs are going to be pored over for possible significance — by the Seahawks, by Wilson and his handlers, and by the media and fans watching it all from afar.
Which brings us to the development last week — the reaction by Wilson’s “camp,” interpreted to be agent Mark Rodgers or an associate, to general manager John Schneider’s attendance at the pro day of Wyoming quarterback Josh Allen. According to Jim Trotter of NFL Network, Wilson’s camp called the Seahawks to ask why they were scouting a QB expected to be selected near the top of the draft later this month, and “if there is anything we need to know.”
Taken in isolation, it’s probably much ado about little. The Seahawks like to do their due diligence and it’s not unreasonable for the GM to want to take a look at an elite quarterback, if nothing else than for down the road. Just look at how many high draft picks from 2013 the Seahawks have ended up with after the fact — five of the top 13 from that year found their way to Seattle eventually. You never know, right?
But it’s also a good indication that the next year has a chance to be rife with such back-and-forth moments. And that it’s going to be happening in an environment in which Wilson’s four-year, $87.5 million contract signed before the 2015 season has already been dwarfed by numerous others, including the recent five-year, $137.5 deal with San Francisco by Jimmy Garoppolo, shortly after Alex Smith’s four-year, $94 million deal with Washington. The fully guaranteed, three-year, $84 million contract that Kirk Cousins signed with the Vikings adds another wrinkle — as do the upcoming negotiations with Matt Ryan, a free agent after the 2018 season who is said to be close to a new deal, and Aaron Rodgers, whose contract is up at the same time as Wilson’s.
It could be a combustible environment, which is why the Seahawks team that emerges from all of Schneider and Carroll’s machinations is so important. And so fascinating, because for the first time in a long while, the Seahawks will not go into 2018 as the division favorite. In fact, depending on whether or not they trade Earl Thomas, and how well the draft goes, the Seahawks might not even be viewed as a strong playoff contender. They don’t want to use the “r” word — rebuild — but that’s how it’s going to be widely interpreted.
Every team that is rebuilding, or rebooting, or re-energizing — however you want to term it — still needs a strong quarterback as its centerpiece, so there’s still obviously a place for Wilson in Seattle.
But if it goes poorly for the team next year, if Wilson doesn’t click with the new coaches or feels that the Seahawks still haven’t done enough to build an offensive line to protect him or a running game to complement him, well, it could get interesting.
While the Seahawks technically have the ability to ensure Wilson’s retention beyond the end of the contract by slapping the franchise tag on him if the negotiations fall apart, doing so would give them a mammoth salary-cap hit — way north of $30 million. That’s hardly the formula for building a productive roster.
Throw in the fact that Pete Carroll turns 67 early in the season, with two years left on his deal just like Wilson, and the Seahawks are definitely at a crossroads.
The 2018 season will be the most fascinating in years, simply because it’s shrouded in so much mystery, with so much at stake — topped by the future of their franchise quarterback, Russell Wilson.
|Russell Wilson will be the 10th highest-paid quarterback in the NFL next season. His current contract lasts through 2019.|
|Kirk Cousins, Vikings||$28M|
|Jimmy Garoppolo, 49ers||$27.5M|
|Matthew Stafford, Lions||$27M|
|Drew Brees, Saints||$25M|
|Derek Carr, Raiders||$25M|
|Andrew Luck, Colts||$24.594M|
|Alex Smith, Washington||$23.5M|
|Joe Flacco, Ravens||$23.13M|
|Aaron Rodgers, Packers||$22M|
|Russell Wilson, Seahawks||$21.9M|