The evolving negotiations between the Seattle Seahawks and quarterback Russell Wilson could be nearing a conclusion as training camp is set to begin on Thursday, and with recent reports from both NFL.com and ESPN insisting Wilson will in fact completely “shut down” any more talks once camp starts. The deadline was evidently set by Wilson so he could focus on the upcoming 2015 season rather than fret over his lack of a lucrative, multi-year extension.
While the situation may appear bleak, there has been considerable movement over the last few days.
The 26-year-old and two-time Pro Bowler desires a deal similar to Aaron Rodgers, whose contract calls for an average of $22 million a season over the next five years. On the flip side, Seattle hopes to avoid mucking up its salary cap to keep its vaunted and historic defense together, though Wilson and his agent Mark Rodgers are likely arguing that Wilson’s miniscule pay over the last three years has directly allowed the Seahawks to build the defense.
Wilson’s considerable resume in only three years in the NFL, compared to the combined $1.6 million he's been paid in that span, seems like reason enough for Wilson to hold out for as much as possible. He’s gone 36-12 in the regular season and 6-2 in the playoffs, reached two Super Bowls and won one, while posting a 98.6 career passer rating.
Wilson actually threw out a $25-million-per-season figure during an interview earlier this year, and while the Seahawks seem hesitant to agree to such a deal, reports indicate their current offer isn’t too far off from that number.
ProFootballTalk reported over the weekend that Seattle offered Wilson $21 million a season with “significant” guaranteed money. Wilson though isn’t satisfied with the offer, but it has more to do with the money paid up front.
NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport confirmed PFT’s $21 million figure, but a source familiar with Wilson and the Seahawks’ talks also said that the latest offer would include $20 million up front. By contrast, Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton received $30 million upon signing his five-year, $103.8 million and he’s 1-2 in three career postseason games.
The Seahawks guarantees are also for injury only, according to Rapoport, which would certainly stand as a major roadblock to reaching a deal in the next 48 hours.
It’s believed Rodgers, who typically works with baseball players, could be seeking a nearly fully guaranteed deal much like Major League Baseball and NBA players receive and something that’s never afforded to even the NFL’s superstars. Newton’s deal called for $60 million guaranteed, while two-time MVP Aaron Rodgers' $110 million deal included $54 million in guarantees.
A source told ESPN’s John Clayton that Seattle is actually willing to give Wilson a deal similar to the one Pittsburgh’s Ben Roethlisberger received. The Steelers agreed to a five-year deal with a $99 million base that could balloon to $108 million should Roethlisberger meet some very high incentives. That deal also included $60.75 million guarantees, and Roethlisberger will be the second highest paid player in the league this season.
While the Seahawks face pressure to sign Wilson and to end the contract saga, Wilson will also assume injury risks if he decides to play out his current deal and make $1.5 million this season.
Meanwhile, signing a deal now will cancel out Seattle’s option of using the franchise tag next spring. The Seahawks could use the tag on Wilson, netting him $22.5 million next year, but that’s only for one season and the negotiating process will again bleed into the 2016 season.