Funding Rule Holding Up Russell Wilson Deal?

We’ve heard plenty this week on the status of a long-term extension between the Seahawks and Russell Wilson, but today introduced another element into this process.

Multiple sources informed Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio of Wilson seeking a larger-than-usual portion of his next contract to be fully guaranteed, and the NFL’s funding rule could be impeding these proceedings. For teams to provide guarantees to players for skill, cap and injury purposes, all of that guarantee is not due upon signing, but must be placed into an escrow account immediately. The issue, according to Florio, is Seahawks owner Paul Allen being reluctant to agree to this stipulation.

Designed to protect players from owners who don’t have the cash to make the future payments, the funding rule wouldn’t seem to play a key component in Wilson’s pursuit of a lofty second deal. Allen is the league’s richest owner by a massive margin, checking in at No. 51 on Forbes’ world billionaires list with a net worth of $17.5 billion. He is the only NFL owner in the top 200; Dolphins boss Stephen Ross‘ $6.5 billion warchest sits at 216th, which is in the neighborhood of several of his contemporaries.

Florio adds that it’s unclear why Allen is reluctant in this case due to his fortune, but that one reason could be a collusion attempt on the owners’ part to avoid widespread fully guaranteed contracts across the league like the ones doled out in the NBA and Major League Baseball. It’s one of the NFL’s shortcomings fully guaranteed deals don’t exist like they do in the aforementioned, and far safer, disciplines, creating a sharper wedge between labor and management.

Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times writes the stakes in Wilson’s deal are rising and now are beginning to represent more than what is best for merely the Seahawks or Wilson. It could be a seminal negotiation that shapes how the players formulate their plan for when the next CBA talks emerge at the dawn of the 2020s. Mark Rodgers, Wilson’s agent, has primarily baseball ties after once negotiated former Rockies pitcher Mike Hampton’s then-record deal worth eight years and $121MM in 2000, and Condotta views this background as to why Wilson’s camp is taking this stance on guaranteed money.

As of now, Wilson will play this season as the league’s 44th-highest-paid signal-caller at a $1.67MM cap number, behind the likes of Johnny Manziel, Drew Stanton and Shaun Hill. This will almost certainly be the last year Wilson’s in this minuscule NFL tax bracket, and the fourth-year quarterback’s chances of staying in Seattle remain high. But this saga continues to unearth nuances that suggest the Seahawks view Wilson’s accomplishments perhaps much differently than his camp does.

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