BY Art Thiel 06:30AM 05/22/2015

Thiel: How would Wilson play in contract year?

New deal given QB Ryan Tannehill in Miami adds to financial pressure on Seahawks, who could let Russell Wilson play out his original deal. But how would he play with the risk?

Russell Wilson probably owes Ryan Tannehill a beer. / Drew McKenzie, Sportspress Northwest

It is said that the NFL is a 12-month sport. When you’re around the league’s marquee team, scrutiny is even more intense, because everything becomes larger than it appears. So let’s try to catch up on several developments worthy of light.

Ryan Whatthehell contract extension: After the new deal Monday for Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill, which included $77 million in new money and $45 million guaranteed, one could almost hear the what-the-hell?! exclamations emanating from the VMAC offices.

The price for quality quarterbacking just went up, which is the last thing GM John Schneider wanted to hear, especially since Tannehill stretches the phrase quality quarterback.

In fact, Tannehill’s agent, Pat Dye, was said to have taken a phone call from Schneider in which he sarcastically saluted him on the deal that will cost the Seahawks:

Media reports have put the Seahawks’ original offer in the Russell Wilson negotiations at comparable numbers: About $80 million over four years. But Wilson is a more accomplished QB individually and team-wise.

ESPN’s  2014 Total QBR ratings had Wilson 12th and Tannehill 14th, but Wilson has been to three playoffs and two Super Bowls, while Tannehill has been to zero and zero.

The Seahawks will argue that a big part of Wilson’s success is being on a very good team. But Wilson’s camp will argue, justifiably, that no QB is better at turning a negative play into a nothing play, and turning a nothing play into a big positive, feats hard to quantify except by watching the guy for three years.

While neither side is talking publicly, negotiations seem stalemated. Wilson is under contract for 2015 for $1.6 million, so he will play in Seattle regardless. And the club could use the franchise tag after 2015 to keep Wilson — at a very high price.

The intrigue is if the sides agree to let Wilson play out his contract in 2015, will Wilson play his game differently?

Wilson has been remarkably smart about self-protection through three years, but in rejecting the Seahawks offer, he would be assuming the risk of a career-damaging injury. Wilson on a running play may find himself where he’s never been — having to decide between getting a hard yard for a first down, and preserving his health.

Teammate Richard Sherman describes such choices many players have to make as “a business decision.” When players are young — and the Seahawks have always shaped their roster toward youth over experience — it’s easier to pretend invulnerability; by the time a second contract is at hand, reality settles in.

Can’t imagine the Seahawks or Wilson will ever discuss publicly that aspect of human nature. But the Seahawks need to factor in the potential for Wilson becoming bashful about some contact if the decision is made to table the negotiations for a year.

There’s still time — custom in the NFL (not a rule) is to try to conclude extension talks by the start of training camp at the end of July. But Tannehill laid a lick on Schneider that made a new deal a little harder, and perhaps made Wilson’s 2015 season a little harder to play.

Two-point utopia: No team can be happier than the Seahawks about the NFL vote to change the rules on points after touchdown than the Seahawks. The addition of TE Jimmy Graham to Wilson and RB Marshawn Lynch gives Seattle more reliable short-yardage players than any other team.

Historically, the two-point conversion works about 48 percent of the time, while the one-point PAT kick from the new distance of 33 yards has an accuracy rate of about 95 percent, meaning the points per try is about a wash over a season.

Carroll has always been a risk-taker, as many will attest after Seattle’s final offensive play in the Super Bowl. But as I have said after hearing Carroll’s explanation, it wasn’t the decision to pass that was confounding; it was the type of pass and the player to whom it was thrown where the errors occurred.

If Graham had been the target, the likelihood of both completion and incompletion would have been higher, the likelihood of interception lower.

The trade for Graham just became a little better, thanks to NFL owners fixing with a rules changes a problem that wasn’t a problem.

The Golden Ticket: It’s awarded to DE Michael Bennett, who took time from his fruitless campaign for an upgraded contract to drop a new comparison for Carroll — Willy Wonka, the cinematic eccentric played Gene Wilder in 1971 and Johnny Depp in 2005 in The Chocolate Factory.

During a phone interview with Portland radio station 750 AM this week, Bennett said, “It’s like playing for Willy Wonka . . . He’s crazy. He wants to be young.  He just is one of those guys who’s always upbeat, wants to have a good time, and let’s you be yourself.”

Willy Wonka. Perfect. Playing this September in The Shoutalot Factory.



  • RadioGuy

    Wilson will play hard. He’s a lot more competitive than his carefully-cultivated public persona would suggest, plus it’s a contract year. The Schneid has to realize that franchising Wilson in 2016 would bring SERIOUS bad feelings on and even trigger Russ’ willingness to take time off from football to play baseball, even in Class A, to make a point.

    Depending on how well he’s managed the money he’s already been paid (which is still more than most of us will earn in a lifetime, even with a $15 minimum wage), Wilson may be in a better position to walk away from the NFL than the average 26-year-old veteran.

    • coug73

      I agree Russ is a very competitive person. I don’t know if he would let his game slide much at all.

      He’s making good money with his endorsements which would fade away without his SeaHawk play.

      Through hard work and a positive attitude he’s one of the best QB’s in the NFL. Time to pay the Man.

      • RadioGuy

        I’m with you. He’s more than earned the big bucks. My main point was that he’s in a far better negotiating position than most NFL players at this stage of his career…the Seahawks should not play chicken with perhaps the one player who’s meant the most to their recent success.

        • art thiel

          This is not baseball, where there’s no consequence for overpaying; football has a hard cap. The Seahawks aren’t dissing Wilson; they’re trying to get him back to a third Super Bowl.

      • art thiel

        Again, it’s about the cap, not the man.

    • art thiel

      No one is questioning his competitiveness; contact avoidance helps the Seahawks too. But lots of players make “business decisions” regarding contact (Sean Alexander, anyone?), and it’s hard to pinpoint those moments. But the threat can’t be dismissed for anyone.

  • jafabian

    Depending on how negotiations go I don’t think the Seahawks will downplay Wilson’s accomplishments and even he should admit despite his success he still has elements of his game that needs work. His decision making at times has been questionable and as much as the Hawks last play in the Super Bowl could be attributed to Wilson throwing to him when a defender was next to him. (Wilson has said as much as well) Wilson is much like how Troy Aikman was for the Cowboys in his playing career. He wasn’t the best QB in the league, might not have even been in the top 5 but he was the best for the Cowboys and their system and that’s what Wilson is for the Seahawks. Doesn’t downplay what he’s done but doesn’t mean they should break the bank or the team budget for him either.

    Wilson’s Twitter activity has been interesting lately. His tweets can be interpreted as frustration with the Seahawks offer as he dresses them up in Bible verses, such as when he quotes from Psalms and says “Set a guard over my mouth, Lord; keep watch over the door of my lips.” Or another tweet where he simply says “I’d rather wait and see what God has in store rather than do something that isn’t best for my life.” I’m not a fan using the Bible as justification for wanting a million dollar contract. As much as he can point to verses to wag the finger at the club anyone familiar with the Bible could do that right back at him on how he should be handling this. Even though Wilson has proven to be wise beyond his years he’s still a 26 year old dealing with something he was never prepared for with his first employer. I’m actually expecting this to be similar to Walter Jones’ negotiations: be franchised for a few years then get a big, longtime payout later. But like Big Walt I’m expecting him to play just fine under these conditions. DangeRuss should be smart enough to know he’s been blessed with an excellent situation.

    • Kevin Lynch

      I totally agree with this post. You can’t be the man who tries to Break The Bank at Monte Carlo, to quote an old song title. It’s a team game. There has to be money for your teammates. They are looking at this situation too. Believe me. There’s only so much money to go around. It’s limited. Don’t create a problem, Russell. You’ll regret it.

      • jafabian

        I’m guessing he wants it guaranteed more and for a longer term. The Hawks probably guaranteed half of the contract and are going max four years. Maybe something like what Joe Flacco got but better.

        • Kevin Lynch

          Yes. I would bet when push comes to shove they would give him a fifth year but if you guarantee more than half of any contract in the $100 million range in the NFL you are opening Pandora’s Box. All nature of salary evils would fly out into the world. Was more than half of Peyton’s last contract guaranteed?

          • art thiel

            See today’s post on Joel Corry’s comparatives.

      • art thiel

        It’s always the way negotiations go — ask for the world and settle for a couple of continents. Don’t pass judgments in the middle when the facts aren’t knowable.

    • art thiel

      Wilson’s doing subtweeting — sending messages without identifying the target or being specific about his point. And he’s exploring what many already knew — Biblical verse can be used in many ways.

      And I don’t think Seahawks will play that game: Don’t see them firing up the “render unto Caesar” rhetoric.

  • Tman

    Wilson did not call the pass play. Hawks score with a run or pass and Wilson is, deservedly, the highest paid qb in history.

    Wilson has beaten the best..repeatedly.

    Is there someone better? Who would you prefer as Hawks QB? Peyton Manning? Tom Brady? Tony Romo? Colin K?

    Wilson can do everything they do. They cannot do what he does.

    Give the man his millions, and a Tesla Model S. He’s earned it.

    • art thiel

      The issue is not whether he’s worthy. The issue is fitting him under the salary cap and remaining Super Bowl caliber as a team.

      • Tman

        With the arrival of Wilson, the Seahawks flew into rarified game from the Super Bowl in 2013.* The Seahawks won their first Super Bowl in ’14. This year, on the final play, a curious call by the offensive coordinator kept the Hawks from repeating as Super Bowl Champs.

        Great team? Yes.

        Who, but Wilson, could have done this the past three years?

        Should a salary cap be allowed to limit Wilson’s, Chancellor’s, Sherman’s, Lynch’s or any players income?

        How Is it players cannot make half the 55 million a year Roger Goodell is paid? What did Goodell do to prompt Patriots Owner Robert Kraft to recommend owners give Goodell a 300 million dollar contract ?

        Is there a cap on the Commissioners income? Owners income?

        The league did well without a Salary cap until ’94. Is it time, in the interests of fairness, to institute a cap on the commissioners and owners income as well? Or Is it time to do away with the cap altogether?

        *In 2013’s Divisional Playoff, Wilson brought the Seahawks back from a 20 point 4th quarter deficit to take the lead with 34 seconds left. The hawks Defense Coordinator called a never before used defensive set resulting in a long completion that put Atlanta into position for the winning field goal.

  • Tman

    When the great Joe Namath says he would not play if he had it to do over again, it is time to address the concussion issue by instituting a “roughing the passer” penalty. What can be done to protect the other players as well?

    • art thiel

      The concussion issue is much more significant among linemen, who hit each other repeatedly but not in a spectacular way. The thousand smaller hits are where trouble resides.

  • PokeyPuffy

    Art, the Johnny Depp take on Willy Wonka is horrible, and should not be included in any legitimate Charlie and the Chocolate Factory discussion. I am qualified to make this statement because I had to sit through it last week with my daughter.

    • art thiel

      That’s why the Gene Wilder vid was used. Much better movie.

      • just passing thru

        mais oui.

  • notaboomer

    why not have vulcan hire wilson in the offseason for millions? put wilson to work cleaning up the oil spill in santa barbara by the co. that vulcan made $2Bn off of. or at least have wilson talk do press conferences for vulcan and plains all american oil spill co. about how god’s will is going to make everything righteous.