Russell Wilson

NFC West Notes: Rams, Seahawks, Wilson

Rams left guard Rodger Saffold wants to return to Los Angeles in 2019, but the pending free agent also acknowledged the reality of the open market. “I don’t think that it’s any surprise to people to know that I want to be back,” Saffold said Tuesday, per Lindsey Thiry of ESPN.com. “At the end of the day, though, I need to make sure that it’s something fair for me… something I can use and feel that I was treated fair.” Saffold, 30, just wrapped a five-year, $31.722MM contract with the Rams and is the most accomplished guard scheduled to hit free agency next month. While Los Angeles has roughly $35MM in cap space, the club also has several other free agents — Ndamukong Suh, Dante Fowler, and Lamarcus Joyner among them — whom it may want to re-sign. Saffold could potentially take precedent given that the Rams’ offensive line, which ranked top-six in both adjusted line yards and adjusted sack rate, was critical to their run as NFC champions.

Here’s more from the NFC West:

  • Although Russell Wilson is entering the final season of his contract, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com reported earlier this week that the Seahawks have yet to begin extension discussions with their franchise quarterback. Indeed, according to a report from 710 Sports in Seattle, a new deal for Wilson likely won’t be agreed to until at least August. Wilson, 30, inked a four-year, $87.6MM extension in 2015, a deal which — at the time — made him the league’s second highest-paid quarterback. The NFL’s salary cap, and signal-caller salaries, have risen at a steady rate since, leaving Wilson as just the 11th-highest-paid QB on an annual basis. He’ll surely target at least $30MM/year on his next deal, and given Seattle’s willingness to reset positional markets, Wilson could surpass Aaron Rodgers‘ $33.5MM AAV.
  • Seahawks safety Kam Chancellor will have $5.2MM of his $10MM 2019 base salary become fully guaranteed on Friday, reports Brady Henderson of ESPN.com. That total was already guaranteed for injury only, and given that Chancellor hasn’t played since 2017 due to a neck injury, he was going to receive that money anyway. Seattle, which placed Chancellor on the physically unable to perform list in 2018, didn’t cut Chancellor last season due to salary cap ramifications, but they’ll likely do so later this offseason, per Henderson. Chancellor, meanwhile, doesn’t have any incentive to announce his retirement given that he’d forfeit money by doing so.
  • In case you missed it, the Bengals want to interview Rams cornerbacks coach Aubrey Pleasant for their defensive coordinator job.

NFC Notes: Wilson, Foles, Newton, Rams

We heard in early January that the Seahawks would begin contract negotiations with star QB Russell Wilson “soon,” but Adam Schefter of ESPN.com writes that the two sides have yet to have a single contract discussion. Wilson is under club control through the 2019 season and is set to earn $17MM next year, and he has previously stated he would be willing to play out the final year of his deal and perhaps go year-to-year under the franchise tag. But as Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times observes, the fact that Wilson and the Seahawks have not talked contract yet does not mean much (Twitter link). He says the team will get through other team-building matters first and then start exploring extensions, just as it did when it came time to explore a new deal with Wilson in 2015.

Now for more from the NFC:

  • We know that the Eagles want to trade Nick Foles, and yesterday we explored (again) how such a trade is likely to come about. While player and club would like to work “in concert” in determining Foles’ next team, ESPN’s Chris Mortensen (via Eliot Shorr-Parks of 94 WIP) says the Eagles are going to try to keep Foles out of the NFC East — the Redskins and Giants could be in the market — and would prefer to deal him to an AFC team. Meanwhile, Sheil Kapadia of The Athletic believes it only make sense for the Eagles to franchise Foles if they already have a trade in place, and that the recent chatter concerning the franchise tag is merely a bluff at this point.
  • Schefter confirms a report from earlier this week that Panthers QB Cam Newton, who underwent arthroscopic shoulder surgery last week, is expected to be ready in time for training camp and certainly will be good to go when the regular season rolls around.
  • Ian Rapoport of NFL.com says that the Rams, who signed running back C.J. Anderson in December, “absolutely” want to re-sign Anderson this offseason. That makes sense considering how good Anderson has been in his brief tenure with the club, and considering Todd Gurley‘s history of knee problems. Anderson, though, could be in line for a bigger role or salary than what Los Angeles is prepared to give. Anderson is expected to get plenty of work in tonight’s Super Bowl.
  • Rams QB coach Zac Taylor will be formally announced as the Bengals’ next head coach tomorrow, and Rapoport tweets that LA may move senior offensive assistant Jedd Fisch to QB coach. The club could also give current TE coach/passing game coordinator Shane Waldron the passing game coordinator title without requiring him to coach a position and bring in Wes Phillips to coach the tight ends.
  • As expected, the Buccaneers will transition to a 3-4, one-gap defense under new defensive coordinator Todd Bowles, per Jenna Laine of ESPN.com. Laine looks at how the Bucs could deploy their current personnel to mirror Wade Phillips‘ success in transitioning two 4-3 defenses to 3-4 schemes.

West Notes: Fitz, Wilson, Henry

Cardinals WR Larry Fitzgerald did not announce that he would return for the 2018 season until mid-February of 2018, and it appears that we could have a similar wait in 2019. Fitz told ESPN’s Adam Schefter earlier this week that he would take some time to collect his thoughts after a difficult 3-13 season, but that the team’s recent hiring of new head coach Kliff Kingsbury would not sway him one way or another. If Fitz does decide to play, he would technically be eligible for free agency, but it is impossible to imagine him playing for a team other than Arizona.

Now for more from the league’s west divisions:

  • This probably doesn’t mean much, especially in light of last week’s reports on the matter, but Kingsbury has said that he would consider drafting Oklahoma QB Kyler Murray with the Cardinals‘ No. 1 overall pick in the 2019 draft, per ESPN’s Sam Ponder (via Twitter).
  • The Seahawks are set to begin contract negotiations with quarterback Russell Wilson, and in a piece that is well-worth a full read, Joel Corry of CBS Sports says that Wilson’s new deal will pay him at least $35MM per year.
  • After being activated on Monday, Chargers TE Hunter Henry is expected to play in the team’s divisional round showdown in Foxborough this afternoon, per Albert Breer of SI.com.
  • We heard yesterday that Bears defensive backs coach Ed Donatell will be a top target of new Broncos coach Vic Fangio, and Mike Klis of 9News tweets that Donatell is currently deciding between staying in Chicago or following Fangio to Denver.
  • Former Buccaneers defensive line coach Brentson Buckner will join the Raiders in the same capacity, per Greg Auman of The Athletic (Twitter link).
  • 49ers defensive line coach Jeff Zgonina will not be returning to the team, per Alex Marvez of SiriusXM NFL Radio (via Twitter).

Seahawks, Wilson To Begin Negotiations

Russell Wilson‘s last contract negotiations proved quite the test for both sides, and the Seahawks quarterback made significant strides as a player in the years since. And the NFL’s quarterback salary landscape looks remarkably different now than it did in 2015.

With their season over and their franchise cornerstone entering a contract year, the Seahawks will soon begin extension talks, Pete Carroll said during a radio interview with 710 Seattle (via Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times, on Twitter).

The last update provided on these looming talks came in September, when Wilson’s camp had not received any word the Seahawks were progressing on a new deal. Now that Wilson is in a contract year, that will change. But this may take a while. As of last offseason, Wilson expected this process to end with the Seahawks franchise-tagging him in 2020.

Wilson signed a four-year, $87.6MM deal with the Seahawks in July 2015. That re-up has since been surpassed by 10 other quarterbacks. With two passers now making at least $30MM per year, Wilson is unlikely to sign for less than that, especially considering he just turned 30. He should still be in his prime when this his third contract concludes. And with the Seahawks moving on from numerous high-profile veterans, making 2018 their first fully Wilson-centric team (and an unexpected playoff entrant, at that), the quarterback’s camp will surely demand their client be compensated like similar franchise centerpieces across the league.

Although Wilson was a two-time NFC champion when he signed his most recent Seattle deal, he compiled his first two 4,000-yard seasons over the course of that pact while throwing at least 34 touchdown passes three times in that span as well.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Seahawks Have Not Approached Russell Wilson About A New Deal

The Seahawks have not approached star quarterback Russell Wilson to discuss a new contract, and there are currently no plans to have such a discussion, as Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports writes. Wilson is under club control through 2019, and while Seattle generally does not redo deals that have multiple years remaining, the team has made a few exceptions to that organizational philosophy in the past, and one might expect that Wilson would be a player for whom the Seahawks would make such an exception. Indeed, he has as much time left on his current contract as Aaron Rodgers had when he signed his recent massive extension with the Packers.

However, we did hear earlier this year that negotiations between Wilson and Seattle — if they do end up happening at some point in the future — are not expected to be pretty, and Wilson himself said that he expects to be hit with the franchise tag in 2020. But as La Canfora points out, going year-to-year with the franchise tag for a player like Wilson is probably not the best strategy, and allowing him to enter the final year of his contract at a time when contract values continue to soar and the cap continues to increase significantly may not be the wisest move either.

It could be that Seattle simply does not plan to hang on to Wilson beyond 2019. The team is no longer the powerhouse it was earlier this decade, and Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times recently wrote that the Seahawks’ performance in 2018 could go a long way in determining the futures of both Wilson and head coach Pete Carroll in Seattle. Although Condotta acknowledged that it would be difficult to imagine the Seahawks not making every effort to keep Wilson, he noted that the franchise’s future looks as unclear as at any time since Wilson arrived in 2012.

It is also worth noting that the Seahawks were at their dominant best when Wilson was playing under his rookie deal, so if the club does choose to rebuild, it could seek to leverage Wilson as part of those efforts. Indeed, La Canfora says that some GMs believe Seattle could get up to three first-round picks in exchange for Wilson if it puts him on the trading block.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Extra Points: Kaepernick, Raiders, Greg Little, Cardinals

Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider were deposed in the collusion grievance filed by Colin Kaepernick this week, a source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter (Twitter link).

Expanding on the subject, Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio recounts that the “Seahawks were planning to bring in the quarterback for a workout, but the team canceled the session when Kaepernick declined to commit to stand for the national anthem.” 

Despite the case, Carroll has not closed the door on the former 49ers quarterback joining the team. As Florio writes, however, “It would be awkward, to say the least, for Kaepernick to sign with Seattle after his lawyers questioned Schneider and Carroll under oath…”

Seattle is still the only team to have brought Kaepernick in for a visit since hitting free agency after the 2016 season. This long saga still appears to be far from a conclusion.

Here’s more from around the NFL:

  • Earlier this week, the Raiders signed longtime Chiefs linebacker Derrick Johnson to a one-year deal. The details of that contract came out today, with the 13-year pro set to make $1.5MM. The contract includes a $200,000 signing bonus and $500,000 total guaranteed. With incentives, the deal could top out at $2.25MM, NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero tweets.
  • Former Browns receiver Greg Little appeared at the Cardinals rookie minicamp, Kyle Odegard of azcardinals.com writes. Little, who hasn’t played a game since the 2014 season, was a promising second-round pick who flamed out after three seasons. The Cardinals offered the 28-year-old wideout a tryout this weekend and impressed new head coach Steve Wilks.
  • ESPN’s Dan Graziano took a crack at projecting the next big-money quarterbacks. To no one’s surprise, Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers tops the list in 2020, but the sides are expected to come to a deal before that time. Among the other signal-callers who could surpass Kirk Cousins‘ big deal are Russell Wilson, Carson Wentz and Jimmy Garoppolo.

Russell Wilson Expects To Be Franchised In 2020

Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson‘s current contract runs through the 2019 campaign, but he expects to be in Seattle beyond next season. Wilson and his camp expect the Seahawks to deploy the franchise tag in 2020, according to Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk.

As expected, the quarterback contract landscape has seen increased salaries this year, as Matt Ryan last week topped Kirk Cousins as the NFL’s highest-paid player. Ryan received nearly $100M in full guarantees and collect $30MM annually on his new deal, setting new marks at the position. Packers signal-caller Aaron Rodgers is expected to receive an extension in the near future, and he’ll surely move past Ryan in both guaranteed money and per-year average.

Wilson, 29, is currently earning $21.9MM per season under the terms of the deal he signed in 2015, a figure which ranks 11th among quarterbacks. If he receives the franchise tag in 2020, Wilson would be entitled to a 20% raise over his 2019 cap charge, meaning the tender would be worth $30.34MM. If Seattle used the tag again in 2021, it would cost roughly $36.41MM.

Previous reports have indicated negotiations between Wilson and the Seahawks could be contentious. Seattle reportedly explored the 2018 crop of quarterback prospects, and although the club ultimately selected only seventh-round Alex McGough, Wilson’s team contacted the Seahawks as to why they were interested in this year’s passers.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Latest On Russell Wilson’s Future In Seattle

We recently heard that the Seahawks could explore a new deal with quarterback Russell Wilson next offseason, and that such a contract could carry an AAV of $30MM. However, even if the two sides do ultimately come to terms, the negotiations are not expected to be pretty.

Several weeks ago, Seattle GM John Schneider attended the pro day for Wyoming signal-caller Josh Allen — one of the top QB prospects in this year’s draft — and as Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times (citing a segment from the NFL Network’s Jim Trotter) writes, Wilson’s camp wanted to know why. Indeed, agent Mark Rodgers or someone on his team called the Seahawks and asked “if there is anything we need to know.”

While Wilson, who is under club control through 2019, will remain under center for Seattle in 2018, Condotta writes that both sides have sent an “opening salvo” in what he believes will be contentious contract discussions. The club is letting it be known that it is exploring quarterback options — even though there is virtually no chance it could land Allen even if it wanted to — and Wilson’s camp is letting it be known that it is taking note.

The last negotiations between player and team were hardly smooth, and the way they unfolded suggested that anything was possible down the road. And, for the first time in Wilson’s career, the Seahawks have made significant changes to their offensive coaching staff, and one of the reasons for those changes was to get more out of Wilson. As such, Wilson’s future in Seattle will largely hinge on what happens this season. If all goes well, then it will be easier for the two sides to commit to each other for the foreseeable future. If not, then both parties will be exploring alternatives.

The Chargers, who have not needed to look for a QB for a long time, are meeting with the top signal-callers in the 2018 rookie class, and Trotter mentioned the Bolts as a potential trade partner for the Seahawks if they try to deal Wilson. Wilson, who typically spends much of his offseason in SoCal, would likely be amenable to that scenario, per Condotta.

Larry Stone of the Seattle Times says the most likely outcome is another long-term deal between Wilson and the Seahawks, but he, like Condotta, expects the road to that deal to be a bumpy one.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFC West Notes: Wilson, Cardinals, Foster

Yesterday, we learned that Seahawks QB Russell Wilson could be in line for a new contract with an AAV of $30MM as early as next offseason (he is under club control through 2019, and Seattle does not revisit deals that have more than one year remaining). While that report raised some eyebrows, Brady Henderson of ESPN.com (who penned the above-referenced article) tweets that Wilson’s current deal — which he signed in 2015 — has an AAV of 15.31% of the 2015 salary cap. A $30MM AAV on his next contract would represent 15.87% of the projected 2019 cap, so it would be a reasonable benchmark for Wilson to shoot for. Given that, and given Wilson’s accomplishments in the league, a $30MM/year deal does not seem especially far-fetched.

Now let’s take a look at a few more rumors from the NFC West:

  • Just like 2013, Steve Keim‘s first year as the Cardinals‘ GM, Arizona has a void at quarterback. During a recent interview on 98.7 FM, Keim addressed that need (article via Vince Marotta of ArizonaSports.com). He indicated that the team would be active in the free agent market, which is as rich in QB talent as it has been at any time in recent memory, and he did not rule out the possibility of a trade. Of course, whether they do so via free agency, a trade, or the draft, the Cardinals will need to acquire at least two signal-callers this offseason.
  • As Matt Maiocco of NBCSports.com observes, when the 49ers have released a player due to off-field issues in the past, they have done so immediately. The fact that San Francisco has yet to release Reuben Foster in light of the recent domestic violence allegations levied against him indicates to Maiocco that the team has not seen enough concrete information to cut ties with the former Alabama standout.
  • In the same piece, Maiocco reiterates that the 49ers will look to re-sign LB Brock Coyle, assuming the team is confident that Coyle will make a full recovery from his offseason shoulder surgery. Maiocco is also more optimistic than other writers that the 49ers will be able to retain DE Tank Carradine .

Extra Points: Bell, Seahawks, Buccaneers

Some assorted notes from around the NFL…

  • The Buccaneers are interviewing former Arizona Cardinals defensive line coach Brentson Buckner for the same position on their staff, reports Scott Reynolds of PewterReports.com (and since confirmed by other sources). Buckner and general manager Jason Licht have a relationship from their time in Arizona, perhaps giving him an advantage during the process. The Bucs are also interviewing assistant defensive line coach Paul Spicer and former Colts defensive coordinator Ted Monachino.
  • With three days remaining until Le’Veon Bell‘s artificial deadline to sign a new deal with the Steelers, Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com wonders whether the two sides will come to an agreement. The reporter notes that there’s been no progress between the two sides in recent weeks, and he adds that it makes plenty of sense for Bell to wait for a deal. Ultimately, if the Steelers are claiming their offer will continue to drop as time goes on, Florio believes the running back should call their bluff and explore his value on the open market.
  • Following the massive deals signed by Jimmy Garoppolo and Alex Smith, ESPN.com’s Brady Henderson believes Russell Wilson could be in line for a contract that pays him $30MM per season. When the Seahawks quarterback signed an extension three years ago, he was second in average annual salary (behind Aaron Rodgers). However, following the latest deals and projected contracts for Kirk Cousins and Drew Brees, Wilson could now fall all the way to 10th. Ultimately, the writer believes the organization could pursue a new deal with Wilson before next offseason.