Russell Wilson

This Date In Transactions History: Russell Wilson’s First Extension

A Seahawks quarterback. A self-imposed deadline. A new average annual value that ranks among the NFL’s highest. No, we’re not talking about Russell Wilson‘s recent extension with Seattle. We’re looking back at the 2015 deal Wilson inked with the Seahawks, a four-year, $87.6MM pact that contained $31.7MM in full guarantees.

Just as he did before his 2019 extension, Wilson put a deadline on his 2015 negotiations with Seattle. The former third-round pick told the Seahawks that he’d close down talks if a new deal wasn’t agreed to by the start of 2015 training camp. Similar to 2019, it’s unclear how serious Wilson was about his proposed deadline, but the gambit seems to have worked on both occasions. Although a report just a day before the 2015 extension was reached indicated that no deal was close, Wilson and Seattle agreed to fresh pact on July 31, 2015.

While he didn’t quite reach his goal of becoming the NFL’s highest-paid player at the time, Wilson did come close. His annual average value of $21.9MM came up just short of Aaron Rodgers‘ $22MM/year salary. In terms of fully guaranteed money, however, Wilson didn’t approach Rodgers, trailing the Packers signal-caller’s $54M in true guarantees by nearly $22MM.

At the time of his extension, Wilson had led the Seahawks to a 36-12 regular season record and posted a Super Bowl victory. During his first three years in the NFL, Wilson put up a 98.6 quarterback rating, 6.93 adjusted net yards per attempt, and averaged 3,316 yards, 24 touchdowns, and nine interceptions per 16 games. Seattle’s winning percentage has dropped in the four seasons since, but Wilson’s production has remained consistent. From 2015-18, he posted a 101.5 quarterback rating, 6.97 ANY/A, and a 3,918/31/9 line per 16 contests.

As in 2019, Wilson’s 2015 extension was followed by a new deal for linebacker Bobby Wagner. But while Wagner was retained, the Seahawks — who no longer had the benefit of Wilson on a cheap rookie contract — had to get rid of other veterans. Significant members of Seattle’s Super Bowl roster, such as Michael Bennett, Richard Sherman, Russell Okung, Bruce Irvin, and James Carpenter were either allowed to walk via free agency or traded.

Wilson’s current annual salary takes up 18.6% of the Seahawks’ salary cap, which could potentially affect Seattle’s ability to retain talent down the line. Clearly, when you’re lucky enough to have a quarterback like Wilson, you pay him whatever he’s worth. But as Wilson’s 2015 extension showed, there likely will be ripple effects that permeate the rest of the Seahawks’ roster.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Extra Points: Wilson, Vikings, McLeod, AAF

More details of Russell Wilson‘s landmark extension are emerging. Wilson’s 2020 and ’21 base salaries — $19MM apiece — will become fully guaranteed if he is on the Seahawks roster five days after Super Bowls LIV and LV, respectively. With that a near-certainty, Wilson’s $107MM in total guarantees are practically full guarantees. Wilson will earn a $19MM base salary in 2022 and ’23, according to OverTheCap. This deal leaves Wilson with cap numbers of $26.29MM (2019), $31MM (2020), $32MM (’21), $37MM (’22) and $39MM (’23). The eighth-year quarterback’s base salary was slated to be $17MM this year; the new deal converted much of that money into a signing bonus, with Wilson now attached to a $5MM base in 2019. The new contract raised Wilson’s 2019 cap number by just $1MM. Additionally, the contract includes a $6MM escalator clause — which would bring the total dollar figure up to $146MM — for Wilson’s 2023 salary, per CBS Sports’ Joel Corry (on Twitter). Unspecified performance-based incentives from 2020-22 can bump the Pro Bowler’s $21MM salary in 2023 to $27MM.

Here is the latest from around the American football landscape:

  • The Vikings are considering moving left tackle Riley Reiff to left guard, but it appears that is contingent on how the draft goes. Reiff will likely only move inside if Minnesota selects a first-round tackle, per Dave Campbell of the Associated Press. Reiff has only played tackle in the NFL. The Vikings “wouldn’t hesitate” to move center Pat Elflein to guard, Campbell adds, but that will also be contingent on the draft. Minnesota failing to add a center worth relocating Elflein would presumably nix that move. Either way, the Vikings’ embattled line will likely look a bit different post-draft.
  • Rodney McLeod will not participate in the Eagles‘ offseason program. The veteran safety, who tore his ACL in Week 3 of last season, is aiming for a training camp return, the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Les Bowen notes. McLeod took a major pay cut this offseason, slashing his 2019 salary from $7.5MM to $1.5MM. That can become $4MM, should McLeod play in all 16 Eagles games, Bowen adds. He played in 16 games in each season from 2012-16 and had missed just two in his career prior to the 2018 injury. McLeod signed a five-year deal in 2016, but the contract is now a four-year pact. The restructure voided the 2020 season.
  • No last-ditch effort will save the Alliance of American Football. The league filed for bankruptcy this week. “Pursuant to the bankruptcy laws, a trustee will be empowered to resolve all matters related to the AAF’s remaining assets and liabilities, including ongoing matters related to player contracts,” the league said in a statement. The AAF abruptly halted operations earlier this month, leaving a messy trail of financial turmoil after an eight-game season.

West Notes: Seahawks, Chiefs, Broncos

Speaking to the media on Thursday, Seahawks general manager John Schneider indicated Russell Wilson‘s four-year, $140MM extension won’t impact the status of franchise-tagged defensive end Frank Clark, tweets Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times. Seattle had already accounted for a new Wilson deal when it decided to tag Clark at a one-year rate of $17.128MM. Schneider also admitted the Seahawks haven’t made a decision on offensive tackle Germain Ifedi‘s fifth-year option for 2020, and singled out linebacker Bobby Wagner and defensive tackle Jarran Reed as extension candidates (Twitter links via Brady Henderson of ESPN.com and Condotta).

Here’s more from the NFL’s two West divisions:

  • Wilson received an NFL-record $65MM signing bonus as part of his new Seahawks contract, but he won’t actually collect all that money immediately. He’ll earn $30MM of the bonus this year with the rest deferred until 2020, per Joel Corry of CBSSports.com (Twitter links), who notes this mechanism is common in most quarterback deals. The deferral won’t affect Wilson’s cap charges, as the $65MM will still be prorated over the next five seasons. Corry adds Wilson received better cash flows on his current extension than on his previous four-year, $87.6MM pact.
  • Authorities have recently removed Chiefs wide receiver Tyreek Hill‘s three-year-old son from Hill and his fiancee’s custody, according to Laura Bauer, Brooke Pryor, and Steve Vockrodt of the Kansas City Star. Hill is under investigation for a pair of incidents involving child abuse, but still showed up for workouts earlier this week. The NFL is expected to allow the investigation to unfold before considering discipline for Hill.
  • Broncos free agent signee Kareem Jackson played safety at Denver’s minicamp this week, reports Mike Klis of 9News. Jackson, who can also play corner, spent time at both positions for the Texans in 2018 before inking a three-year, $33MM deal with the Broncos in March. “[T]here’s more to learn at safety than there is at corner,” said Broncos head coach Vic Fangio. “He’s played much more corner in his career, so I wanted him to get more work in this camp – all of his work – at the safety position, to feel comfortable there.”

More On Russell Wilson, Seahawks

After the Seahawks and Russell Wilson agreed to a massive four-year, $140MM extension, the parties held a press conference that produced several interesting nuggets:

  • The team’s decision to include a no-trade clause helped seal the deal, as Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times tweets. That is an interesting note in light of previous reports that Wilson was only inclined to remain in Seattle if the team gave him top-dollar, but that he may have been willing to accept less from another club, like the Giants. But perhaps, even if those rumors were true, once Wilson committed to the Seahawks, he wanted to make sure he would only be leaving the club on his terms.
  • Although any issues that player and team might have had are often swept under the rug after a contract gets hammered out, Wilson said he intends to remain in Seattle for his entire career. He said he wants to have a 20-year playing career — meaning he’d be playing until he is 43 — and he said he wants to “wear the blue and green forever” (Twitter link via Condotta).
  • Seahawks GM John Schneider said that Wilson’s April 15 deadline to get a deal done was a good idea for both sides. Schneider said, “The April 15th deal for us was a good idea. The last [negotiation between Wilson and the Seahawks], quite frankly, took too long and took a lot of energy away from what we’re supposed to be doing. We thought it was a good idea on their part and worked out for both sides because we had to know what was going on, be able to clear our minds and be right” (via Curtis Crabtree of Pro Football Talk).
  • Wilson, of course, agreed, saying, “I remember the first time, the other contract, it was one of those things that took us all away to the summertime, right before training camp — literally to 11:50 that night and everything else. The next day, we were practicing. For me, and for everyone involved really — the whole organization — it was really more so of a ‘Hey, let’s make sure we don’t have to drag out this whole process.'”
  • Head coach Pete Carroll, whose contract now expires before Wilson’s, emphasized the importance of Wilson remaining with the team for years. Carroll said, “For the continuity of this program, for the continuity of the following, all the fans who have known who we are and how we like to play and Russ has ignited an energy about the games that we play and the style from the offensive side. I thought it was really important for us. We think we have a really good team and we’re really fired up about it, and to be able to maintain this continuity was extremely important for us.”

Details On Russell Wilson’s New Deal

On Tuesday, the Seahawks agreed to make quarterback Russell Wilson the highest-paid player in NFL history. The historic four-year, $140MM add-on makes Wilson the NFL’s highest-paid player of all time and even gives him a no-trade clause. However, Wilson didn’t necessarily get everything that he initially wanted. 

There was talk that Wilson wanted to set some other precedents with this contract by tying the contract to rises in the salary cap, but the Seahawks held their ground on that front, Bob Condotta of The Seattle Times hears. That was no small matter for Wilson and his agent – they fought for the cap tie-in up until the last minute of the Monday deadline, per Condotta.

Ultimately, the two sides reached a compromise that Wilson is surely happy about. His $65MM is the highest signing bonus in NFL history and the deal guarantees him $70MM in the first year of the contract.

Still, Wilson’s bid to tie his contract to the salary cap made sense. When adjusted for cap inflation, his $35MM/year deal ranks only as the fifth-highest of all-time, according to Jason Fitzgerald of Over The Cap (on Twitter).

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Seahawks, Russell Wilson Agree To Extension

The Seahawks and Russell Wilson beat the buzzer. Just before the clock struck midnight on the quarterback’s extension deadline, the two sides agreed to a historic four-year, $140MM extension, as ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter tweets. The deal, which includes a $65MM signing bonus, makes Wilson’s the NFL’s highest-paid player of all time. Wilson’s deal also includes a no-trade clause.

Wilson personally confirmed the extension in a Twitter video early Tuesday morning. The Seahawks have since announced the signing.

Hey Seattle, we got a deal,” Wilson said while getting ready to go to sleep. “Go Hawks. But I’ma see y’all in the morning. Time for y’all to go to bed.”

The new pact, which gives him a record-breaking $35MM average annual salary, ties Wilson to Seattle through the 2023 season. His signing bonus of $65MM is also the largest in NFL history, shattering the previous high set by Aaron Rodgers‘ $57.5MM SB.

Wilson’s contract gives him an effective guarantee of $70MM with the first three years guaranteed for injury, according to Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com (on Twitter). The deal also gives Wilson a favorable cash flow with $88MM over the first two years of the deal and $107MM over the first three years. All of that is guaranteed for injury, per Albert Breer of SI.com (on Twitter). Wilson has never missed a start in seven Seahawks seasons.

We’re all really pleased that we were able to take the next step to stay together and keep this moving,” Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. “Russ has been a huge factor in everything that has happened, and this allows us to stay on track with continuing to push to find that consistency.

… Obviously this is a grand negotiation, and they had to figure it out. They had to figure it out, it has all been a part of the plan — they’ve known it was coming for years. The fact that they were able to make it happen and connect with Russ on his plan to really commit his future to the organization and to the fans and all — he has done that—that all had to be orchestrated, and John (Schneider) and (VP of football administration) Matt (Thomas) did an extraordinary job.”

Wilson is now under contract through his age-35 season. Before the deal, the Seahawks could have conceivably kept Wilson under club control through 2021 through the final year of his deal and a pair of franchise tags, but that would have been a costly (and chasm-causing) proposition.

Last year, Wilson set a new career high with 35 touchdown passes and matched his career low of seven touchdowns. He’ll turn 31 in November, but Wilson has shown no signs of slowing down.

With a new deal in place for their franchise QB, the Seahawks can turn their attention to other matters, including new deals for middle linebacker Bobby Wagner and pass rusher Frank Clark. However, the size of Wilson’s deal could be a barrier to costly long-term pacts for both defenders and a Clark trade remains possible.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Latest On Russell Wilson Contract Deadline

Russell Wilson‘s self-imposed deadline for a new contract with the Seahawks has arrived, and Wilson’s agent Mark Rodgers has been in Seattle for three days working on a deal, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link). However, if Wilson and the Seahawks don’t negotiate a new pact by today, the star quarterback doesn’t plan to sign a long-term deal with Seattle at all, reports Peter King of NBC Sports.

As King reiterates, Wilson isn’t planning to hold off talks until 2020 if an extension isn’t agreed to on Monday. Instead, he doesn’t intend to ink any sort of new deal with Seattle if a long-term accord isn’t reached today. While it’s fair to wonder if Wilson’s April 15 deadline — and his reported declaration that he won’t negotiate after today — is all a tactic, it’s also possible that Wilson isn’t bluffing.

If a deal does get hammered out, it’s likely to include parameters that could increase Wilson’s salary based on outside factors, per King. Wilson’s earnings could potentially be tied to a rise in the NFL’s salary cap, or an increase in new league revenue sources such as gambling or television contracts. Aaron Rodgers reportedly asked for out clauses and/or other triggers during his negotiations with the Packers last summer, but neither he nor any other signal-caller has yet secured any sort of non-conventional deal.

The Seahawks weren’t blindsided by Wilson’s contract deadline, as he originally alerted Seattle to his schedule in January. As of last week, however, the two sides had still made very little progress in negotiations, and subsequent reports have indicated the Seahawks actually believe Wilson wants to play elsewhere, and will drive a harder bargain in Seattle than he would elsewhere. The Seahawks still control his rights through 2019, and can realistically retain him through 2021 via a series of franchise tags.

Wilson will be in attendance for the beginning of Seattle’s offseason program on Monday, tweets Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times, so he could potentially take an active role in negotiating his new deal.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Russell Wilson Wants To Leave Seahawks?

Tomorrow is tax day, and it’s also Russell Wilson‘s deadline for a new contract with the Seahawks. We have explored the dynamic between Wilson and Seattle at length over the past couple of weeks, but Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk has now added a new wrinkle to the conversation.

Florio hears from a league source that the Seahawks believe Wilson wants to play elsewhere, and that Wilson will therefore drive a harder bargain with Seattle than he would with another club. Of course, Wilson is still under contract through the end of the 2019 campaign, and the Seahawks could realistically deploy the franchise tag in 2020 and 2021 if they so choose (and though Wilson could always change his mind, he has indicated he would not hold out if he is hit with the franchise tag).

But as Florio observes, it remains unclear whether Seattle wants to commit to the kind of money that Wilson would earn under the franchise tag or the amount he would demand under a multi-year extension. And if he is willing to take a little less to play with another club — like the Giants, who have been rumored as a potential destination for some time — then it would become easier for the Seahawks to deal Wilson under a tag-and-trade scenario (interestingly, new Chiefs safety Tyrann Mathieu, whose respect for Wilson is well-known, tweeted a response to Florio’s piece that said, “Russ wants New York”).

This could just be the type of pie-in-the-sky rumor that frequently shrouds negotiations with star players. It is still eminently possible that Wilson and the Seahawks hammer out a third contract, or that the two sides roll with the franchise tag for at least the 2020 season, and maybe 2021 (the franchise tag number for 2022 is much too rich to be feasible).

Nonetheless, it is still interesting to ponder, especially considering the juggernaut that the Seahawks were able to build when Wilson was playing under his rookie contract. If they can land some high-level draft capital for Wilson next offseason, then they may be able to put together that type of roster again in short order.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Very Little Progress In Russell Wilson Contract Talks

We’re almost a week away from the April 15 deadline that Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson has set for a new contract, but Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times hears that there has been very little progress between player and team as of yet. That is despite the fact that the Seahawks were reportedly aware of the deadline in January, and despite the fact that head coach Pete Carroll indicated that extension talks would begin in January (which did not actually happen).

Of course, it’s not as if the two sides are somehow precluded from working out a deal after the April 15 deadline, which has no significance other than being the start of the Seahawks’ offseason training program. Condotta suggests that Wilson set the deadline simply because he wants to avoid an offseason of speculation about his contract, and because it’s unlikely that the quarterback market is going to change much between April and July, so it doesn’t necessarily make sense to wait if he can avoid it.

Additionally, both Wilson and the Seahawks know that Wilson has more leverage than he did when he signed his last extension in 2015, and Wilson likewise knows that the team is more apt to go year-to-year with the franchise tag. Wilson has already said that he would not hold out if he is hit with the tag, and given the success that Kirk Cousins had going year-to-year, it makes sense that a player like Wilson would be open to the idea.

As Condotta observes, Wilson also would not hold out this year if his April 15 deadline passes without a new contract in place. But if that happens, the “strong implication” is that the 30-year-old passer would tell the team that he doesn’t want to negotiate again until after the 2019 season is over. And that may be just fine with the Seahawks, who could put the franchise tag on Wilson in 2020 and 2021. The QB franchise tender for those two seasons are projected to come in at $30.6MM and $35MM, respectively, and those numbers are not too far removed from what Wilson would get under a new contract anyway. Plus, Wilson would still be able to hit the open market at age 33 — a franchise tag in 2022 would come in at an unpalatable $52MM — and 2021 is the last year of Carroll’s current contract. The head coach will be 70 at that point, and he may choose to call it a career.

Indeed, if Wilson and the Seahawks are able to hammer out a new deal, the current thinking is that it would only be a three-year pact that runs through the 2021 season. There is speculation that the deal would be worth $100MM guaranteed, which would give Wilson the satisfaction of setting new precedents while allowing him to get at least one more big payday three years down the road.

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Latest On Russell Wilson, Seahawks

Although news surfaced of Russell Wilson‘s April 15 deadline for a new contract, the team was not blindsided by it and thus trying to address this situation at the 11th hour.

The eighth-year Seahawks quarterback provided that date to the team in January, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com reports (on Twitter). Wilson has one season remaining on his four-year, $87.6MM deal. As of February, no new negotiations had commenced, despite Pete Carroll indicating they would in January.

As for what would be next if the Seahawks do not extend Wilson within these next two weeks, the prospect of a franchise tag stands to increase. However, Wilson would not plan a holdout if tagged in 2020, with Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reporting (video link) the decorated passer would sign his franchise tender soon after.

Despite the possibility for acrimony here, the Seahawks would also like to get a deal done by Wilson’s deadline, Mike Garafolo of NFL.com notes (video link). The Seahawks, who have begun negotiations with Bobby Wagner and franchised Frank Clark last month, begin their offseason program April 15.

This may well be a negotiating tactic by Wilson’s side, with the 30-year-old franchise cornerstone signing his current contract late in the 2015 offseason. But Wilson has a bit more leverage this time around, having earned more than $60MM on his current deal compared to having played on a third-round rookie salary from 2012-14.

In 2018, Wilson expected a scenario of being franchised in 2020. The quarterback tag was worth just less than $25MM this year. Wilson in that price neighborhood would be quite reasonable, obviously, given what he’s worth to the Seahawks. Wilson piloted the Seahawks to another playoff berth last season, doing so when few expected the team to be playing in January. He is now the organization’s unquestioned centerpiece, which was not necessarily the case in 2015 — when the Seahawks’ defense housed Pro Bowlers Wagner, Earl Thomas, Richard Sherman and Kam Chancellor. Only Wagner and K.J. Wright remain from those Super Bowl units.

When Wilson signed his current deal, he was the NFL’s second-highest-paid quarterback. Due to the seismic shifts in a previously stagnant market, the signal-caller salary landscape looks quite different now. Wilson is the 11th-highest-paid passer. Any new deal would almost certainly have to eclipse $30MM AAV, which Aaron Rodgers and Matt Ryan did via 2018 extensions, but likely would make Wilson the game’s highest-paid player.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.