Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson stood before the media Wednesday at the VMAC in Renton in what was the last official act associated with the signing of a contract that binds him to Seattle through at least the 2023 season.
And speaking about negotiations that were as avidly followed as any in the history of Seattle sports, Wilson’s agent, Mark Rodgers, said Wednesday in a phone interview with The Seattle Times that staying put was all Wilson ever wanted, despite whatever conjecture there was to the contrary.
That was reflected, Rodgers said, in what was one of the more interesting aspects of a four-year contract extension that will pay Wilson up to $140 million, and at $35 million per year makes him the highest-paid player in NFL history — a no-trade clause. Such clauses are rare — Philip Rivers of the Chargers is one of the few players in recent years known to have gotten one.
“There is a reason we got a no-trade clause,’’ Rodgers said. “You get a no-trade clause because you don’t want to go anywhere. Russell wants to be here. That no-trade clause was, for me, a very important element of the contract.’’
The no-trade clause is more accurately referred to as a clause that means the team can’t trade Wilson without his consent, not just that he could never be traded.
The clause was one of the items that kept the negotiations in flux until the very last minute of a deadline Wilson had set for Monday at midnight to reach agreement on a new contract.
“We got it done literally at midnight,’’ Rodgers said. “It was at the buzzer, and there was no question there was a sense of urgency that this deadline was real.’’
Just how real the deadline may have been was among the issues that garnered much attention and debate before Wilson so memorably announced via Twitter that he had a deal with the Seahawks at 12:44 a.m. Tuesday.
One report stated that had the Seahawks and Wilson not gotten a deal done then, Wilson did not plan to negotiate with the team again — not just in 2019, but ever.
Rodgers says that aspect of the deadline was more an issue of practicality. Had a deal not been reached now, each side knew the likely scenario looming going forward was Wilson getting a franchise tag in 2020 and, likely, also in 2021.
So essentially, if a deal such as this was going to get done, it was going to have to happen now, with the franchise tag meaning anything later would only be more complicated.
And Rodgers says it would have been disingenuous to tell the Seahawks they wanted a deal done now only to then extend the deadline.
“I wouldn’t offend the Seahawks by giving them a deadline that wasn’t real,’’ Rodgers said.
The reason for the deadline was simple, Rodgers said — Wilson wanted his future secure before he began the heavy work on what will be the eighth season of his storied NFL career, one in which he will be 31 by the time it ends.
The deadline meant “when he got back on the field in Seattle, he was fully directed. He could fully direct all of his efforts and attention to getting ready to help the team to compete. He didn’t want a repeat of last time.’’
That’s a reference to his previous contract negotiations in 2015, when Wilson set a deadline of the beginning of training camp to get a new contract completed. That deal also got done at the last minute, the agreement reached the night before, but only after a summer of much public speculation and rumors.
There had already been much speculation about this contract — a rumor that he wanted to be traded to the New York Giants (and it’s worth remembering, there was just one rumor linking Wilson to the Giants), and talk of tying the contract to rises in the salary cap and wanting guarantees of base salaries in future seasons, each of which would have either been against long-standing NFL precedents or recent Seahawks precedents.
Now that the hard work is over and Wilson’s Seattle future is secured into the next decade, Rodgers said what matters is that each side feels good about how the process ended — a fairly conventionally structured contract that doesn’t set any precedents the Seahawks have to worry about repeating with other players, but that also gives Wilson the benchmark of being the highest-paid player in NFL history.
“This deal was about a lot of things, and I’m not going to put labels on it, whether it was team-friendly or player-friendly,’’ Rodgers said. “Russell is going to be well-compensated to continue to quarterback the Seattle Seahawks, and that was the goal.
“The goal was to get a contract and keep him here and stay competitive in the marketplace and I think we did all of that and I’m excited that he is going to stay here. It was never our hope or intention that he would ever leave, but sometimes that becomes a reality in a situation, and sometimes it is forced and sometimes it comes natural. In this particular case it was never our goal to get him out of there. There was a lot of speculation in the media and around about different things that he wanted and didn’t want. But I can tell you that most of that speculation was false and it was always our first goal to negotiate, and if it wasn’t we probably never would have put a deadline and never been in the room. He wants to be there (in Seattle) and this deal reflects that.’’
Note to readers: Because of changes to our commenting system, all stories published before 11 p.m. on April 17 no longer have a comment thread.