12:13pm: Wilson has signed his new contract, and the Seahawks have officially confirmed the contract, per Tom Pelissero of USA Today (Twitter link).
8:47am: The Seahawks have agreed to a contract extension with Russell Wilson, beating the quarterback’s self-imposed deadline, reports Peter King of TheMMQB.com (via Twitter). According to King, it’s a four-year, $87.6MM deal for Wilson, including a $31MM signing bonus and $60MM in guarantees (Twitter link).
With the Seahawks set to have their first training camp practice today, Wilson was prepared to shut down contract talks and focus on football if the two sides hadn’t worked out an agreement within the next few hours. Instead, he’s poised to sign an extension that will keep him under contract with Seattle through the 2019 season.
The new contract doesn’t make Wilson the highest-paid quarterback in the league, but he comes very close to matching Aaron Rodgers‘ $22MM per-year salary, with an average annual value of $21.9MM. We’ll have to wait to hear how the deal is structured, and how many of that $60MM in guaranteed money is actually fully guaranteed, but it appears Wilson’s new contract strongly resembles Ben Roethlisberger‘s pact with the Steelers – Big Ben also got a $31MM signing bonus on his four-year, $87.4MM deal.
Earlier in the process, we heard that Wilson was aiming to top Rodgers’ salary, perhaps seeking an annual salary approaching $25MM, so it appears he made some concessions to get something done this week. The Seahawks may have made some concessions of their own, as most quarterback extensions are for longer than four years. The relatively short term, which is in line with extensions Seattle has done for other key players, will allow Wilson to enter the final year of the contract when he’s just 30 years old.
The negotiations between Wilson and the Seahawks have been one of the NFL’s top stories all offseason, as the Super Bowl-winning quarterback had been set to earn a very modest $1.542MM salary in 2015. He and agent Mark Rodgers were reportedly comfortable with playing out the season on that deal, potentially forcing Seattle to use its exclusive franchise tag on Wilson next winter. However, that drama will be avoided now that the two sides have agreed to terms on a long-term contract.
Because Wilson’s 2015 salary was just $1.542MM, his overall five-year contract won’t look quite as impressive as the new-money figures suggest. Again, we’ll have to wait for the full breakdown of the deal to be sure, but it appears as if the extension is worth $87.6MM in new money for four new seasons, and those new-money amounts are typically how the industry evaluates contracts. Still, once we take into account the ’15 season, Wilson’s overall deal will likely be worth $89.142MM over five years, an average of about $17.8MM annually.
Wilson, 26, has led the Seahawks to three straight playoff appearances and consecutive division titles since joining the franchise as a third-round pick in the 2012 draft. With a career 36-12 regular-season record and a Super Bowl victory under his belt, the Wisconsin product has put himself among the top tier of quarterbacks in the NFL. In 2014, he completed 63.1% of his passes, throwing for 3,475 yards, 20 touchdowns, and just seven interceptions. He also adds value with his legs, running for a career-high 849 yards and six touchdowns last season.
While there had been some questions about whether Wilson deserved a contract in line with the league’s top quarterbacks, given how much the Seahawks lean on their running game and defense to win games, the new deal clearly shows how much the club values its quarterback.
With Wilson now locked up, the Seahawks will be free to focus on a handful of other contract situations. Linebacker Bobby Wagner looks to be next in line for an extension, and left tackle Russell Okung is another candidate for a new deal. However, general manager John Schneider and the Seattle front office may also have to figure out what to do with a couple other players — safety Kam Chancellor is reportedly set to hold out from camp in search of a new deal, and defensive end Michael Bennett is unhappy with his contract as well.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.