BY Art Thiel 12:13PM 05/30/2015

To find Lost Yard, Wilson should play out deal

After Russell Wilson’s agent said the Seahawks QB is “absolutely fine” with playing out his contract, and since Seahawks’ payroll flexibility would improve . . . why not?

The agent for Russell Wilson says the QB is “absolutely fine” with playing out his rookie year contract. / Drew McKenzie, Sportspress Northwest

To hear Mark Rodgers tell it, the discussions between the agent for QB Russell Wilson and the Seahawks front office are a coo and a whisper short of an office bromance. Contrary to much national media speculation, the conclusion of negotiations could be accompanied by Julie Andrews singing, “The Sound of Music.”

Cool. I like musicals.

Of course, Rodgers could be making up the hugfest as a tactic, or just making it up — he is a sports agent, after all — but if his words are taken seriously, major friction is not detectable.

“I would characterize our talks as ongoing, fluid, robust at times, thoughtful,” Rodgers said on ESPN 710 this week in his first Seattle media interview.  “And we’ve made progress . . . I would characterize them as positive and encouraging.”

He also said Wilson is prepared to play into the fourth and final year of his rookie-year contract at $1.5 million, bothering to mention that the apparently frugal Wilson has neither mortgage nor car payments. Which might explain his endorsement clients that include everything short of Sepp Blatter plush toys. Guy has to make ends meet.

If true, then here’s the question before the House of Twelves:

Are the Seahawks’ chances to return to the Super Bowl for a third consecutive season better with Wilson making $1.5 million or $20 million?

Even small children who have enrolled only NFL Salary Cap 101 can say persuasively: Better at $1.5 million.

The money unspent on Wilson in 2015 can go to current players, or an emergency hire of a top veteran.

GM John Schneider is a crafty dude: Remember that no one saw coming the trades for RB Marshawn Lynch, WR Percy Harvin or TE Jimmy Graham. But those players’ original teams all had reasons to move these difference-making talents. The Seahawks were ready, and probably need to be ready again.

Schneider and staff also know things about their players’ health and weaknesses that may cause a sudden shift in needs. Such shifts are much more readily accomplished with room under the salary cap than smashed up against it.

The risk of fourth-year play falls heavily on the side of Wilson. He must avoid serious injury that would deny him the payday the Seahawks currently are offering with an extension. After 2015, the Seahawks have the option to use the exclusive-rights franchise tag, meaning no team can pursue Wilson.

But using the tag means the Seahawks must pay the average of the five highest salaries at the quarterback position. Former agent Joel Corry estimated for AM 1090 The Fan that the number, at the moment, for 2016 would be $25.18 million. A lot, yes, but not so much considering the savings taken in 2015 to make a better team.

Even if the Seahawks were to get Wilson to sign an extension this summer, they likely would offer him a 2015 signing bonus of $15 million-plus atop his $1.5 million base. So $25 million in 2016 in not unmanageable.

But after 2016, another use of the franchise tag would begin to paralyze — an escalation to more than $30 million, all payable, again, in the single year. But by then, the contracts of Schneider and coach Pete Carroll are also up, so they are likely less motivated to sweat beyond 2016.

From that perspective, it’s reasonable to conclude that working beyond the next two seasons is secondary, and finding The Lost Yard in 2015 is the prime directive. Which means that agreeing to play out the fourth year — according to Rodgers, is “an absolutely fine” option for Wilson — makes sense.

There must be other topics in play that neither side has disclosed — baseball, anyone? — but as to the big picture, the offers and counteroffers must have been made by now. In Rodgers’ words, Wilson “would love to stay there (Seattle) for a long time,’’ and nothing in negotiations has changed the desire: “None of our conversations have been threatening at all,” he said.

It would be fun to hear “The Sound of Music” this summer, but no 12 would mind hearing it a year from now, after The Lost Yard has been found.

 


YourThoughts

  • John M

    Sepp Blatter plush toys? Art, your wit today is like the crack of a cleaver striking bone. Realistically, it’s hard to pinpoint what Wilson’s reward going forward should be. If you take just the basic fundamentals by which quarterbacks or generally judged,
    Aaron Rodgers is better. But Wilson does things that can only be called esoteric, to wit, the two yard extra point conversion near the end of the GB game (where the Hawks were outplayed for 55 min. and only the defense managed to keep them possibly within striking distance) that set a record for trajectory altitude that may never be broken. He does things like that so regularly no one remembers the “rules” when trying to judge him. Russ creates his own set of stats. He’s our Batman. How do you measure his worth??

    • mtd9904

      He doesn’t deserve to be paid like Rodgers. Rodgers is expected to win games for GB. The ‘Hawk’s defense is expected to win games for the Seahawks. Wilson can go out there knowing he doesn’t have to play well for the team to win. Players like Rodgers do, which is a big difference.

      Wilson is an very good QB but when you start referring to intangibles in your argument, that’s a nice way of saying facts don’t back the narrative.

      • art thiel

        I would disagree. The tangibles and intangibles put him near the top. Imagine if he had an NFL average O-line.

        • John M

          Exactly, or even a bit above average. GB has a good O-line. If Russ wasn’t so athletic he would have been carted off long ago . . .

          • eYeDEF

            Green Bay knows how to draft offensive linemen, and coach them up into elite linemen. I think Cable’s got the coaching part down, it’s the drafting acumen that I think is his weakness.

          • John M

            You have to consider draft positions. Okung and Max were the only O-linemen taken in the first two rounds (I consider Carpenter a whiff). This year Cable has two fourth rounders that sound promising and some other guys he’s had a season or two to work with. Bad to lose Max, but all things considered I’m expecting some overall improvement . . .

          • eYeDEF

            Poole wasn’t his first choice. It was reported that they tried to trade up in the 4th and really wanted Daryl Williams but they didn’t have the ammo to move up after trading the farm for Lockett. It’s hard for me to expect overall improvement when they’ll have two pretty inexperienced starters. I wouldn’t get your hopes up too much.

        • Bruce McDermott

          But Art, aren’t you listening to Tom Cable? He has repeatedly stated how well his line is playing, as a unit, and player by player :)

          • art thiel

            He liked them so much he traded one and let another go in FA.

          • Bruce McDermott

            Roger that. But he still blows sunshine up the media’s butt every time the subject of the performance of his line comes up.

        • mtd9904

          You’re right about the O-line (and receiving corp. for that matter) but he also has one of the league’s top runners behind him. It will be interesting to see if he can carry the team when the defense starts to slide.

    • art thiel

      He does do things, like the PAT pass, that defy quantification. But the salary cap mandates setting a value. That’s why staying a consistent championship contender in the NFL is such a chore.

  • RadioGuy

    Waiting it out may work against the Seahawks because (I believe) every penny of that Franchise tag counts toward the salary cap, whereas standard contracts can be structured with signing bonuses and deferred money to take up less cap space. Russell Wilson as a Franchise player would mean less cap maneuverability and with 34 players who’ll be free agents next summer, there would likely be a loss of some key personnel.

    It’s the chance you take, I guess: Pay now or really pay later. In either case, Russ will be okay…he does have all those endorsement contracts not subject to approval by Roger’s bean-counters and he doesn’t throw money around like he’s Charlie Sheen at Deja Vu.

  • jafabian

    If Wilson waits the season then the Hawks will deal with a total of 34 free agents on the team according to sportrac.com. Some, like Bruce Irvin, won’t be returning. Others, like Russell Okung, the team will do their utmost to retain. I’m not sure if Wilson’s thinking that after this season the club will have more money to work with since most likely half those free agents won’t be returning? The key is that DangeRuss stays healthy. It’s a gamble to have no contract on the horizon to kick in after the current one expires. Are the Seahawks willing to make him the highest paid QB in the league? That might be the goal of Wilson and his agent.

    • art thiel

      Rodgers dismissed the idea of highest paid, calling it a label.

      The franchise tag salary will be fixed by the average of the five top QBs, and keeping other players on the roster and under the cap isn’t his problem.

      • jafabian

        That’s interesting about Rodgers, because IIRC, he IS the highest paid. Actions speak louder.

        I’m not saying that Wilson should be aware of what a higher salary could do to the roster. Carroll and Schneider are savvy enough to keep the club competitive regardless. I’m suggesting that he and his agent might be thinking with so many Seahawks approaching free agency for next season that could give the team more financial flexibility in their offer. If half of those 34 players leave that offer of $80 million could jump up higher or the guaranteed number could get raised.

        • art thiel

          Sorry,I referred to Mark Rodgers the agent, not Aaron the QB.

  • Tman

    Quoting rant sports, “Before Wilson became the Seahawks’ QB, Rodgers had a 3-0 record against Seattle. Since that time, the Hawks have hosted both matchups and Rodgers’ record has dropped to 3-2. In games against Wilson, Rodgers has thrown for 412 yards to the tune of an 81.5 passer rating. Meanwhile, Wilson has thrown for 321 yards in the two contests while posting an average passer rating of 105.1″

    Is there some reason Wilson should play another down for less than 25 million a year?

    • John M

      Though I agree that Wilson had a significant impact in achieving the victories over GB, the stats you quote tell the story: before Wilson came the Seahawk’s defense wasn’t rated No.1 They started to really mature (with a few notable letdowns) the year Wilson took over at QB . . .

      • Tman

        Where was his defensive secondary the last half of this years SB? He had the game won without them until…

        • John M

          Good question, but it’s happened before. The Seahawks secondary is very good, but perfect isn’t possible in the NFL, and they were facing a great QB who wanted the game as bad as anyone . . .

          • Tman

            that qb was sitting on the bench at the time.

        • art thiel

          They were injured — Sherman, Thomas, Lane, along with DE Cliff Avril.

          • Tman

            Thank you.The Seahawk secondary was on the bench the second half..injured. Wilson and the offense kept the Seahawks in the game.

            With 2:02 to play, Wilson engineers an 80 yard drive including a 33 yard pass to Kearse. Lynch carries to the 1. Three downs to score..no time for a patriots rebuttal. A simple hand off seals the win. Brady knew Wilson had beaten him..again. Then the Seahawks offensive coordinator calls a pass the patriots practiced defending earlier in the week….

            Wilson was incredible..80 yards in 2 minutes..He does this kind of thing regularly. Wilson beats the best. Repeatedly.. Give the man his due.

    • art thiel

      Passing stats in games between different offenses aren’t very relevant.

    • Bruce McDermott

      I think Russell is great. But I also think that if you switched defenses for those games, those stats for each QB would look significantly different.

  • Bruce McDermott

    My favorite part of that interview was when Rogers said, without a trace of irony or sarcasm, that Wilson had prepared for playing for the Hawks in the 4th year of his rookie deal for $1.5 million, and part of that preparation had been to make sure he had no mortgage and no automobile loan. Putting aside the reality that Wilson’s endorsements will add generously to his take home pay in any event, the notion that $1.5 million in a year might make a mortgage and a car loan dicey struck me as very Marie Antoinette–utterly disconnected from the reality in which essentially all of Wilson’s fans live.

    • Its onlySports(DavidWakefield)

      I would tend to agree. Lets face it?He doesn’t have a car payment because he likely went out and paid cash for his wheels.Doubtful its a 1990 Honda Accord either. As for his lodgings?He has a pair of Great Danes. He is not holed up in a one room apartment somewhere. Perhaps he paid cash with his endorsements for a modest 3 bedroom home like most of us live in. Hard to gasp at his agents revelation.
      Russ is always the optimist. He is certain is future is bright both professionally and financially. The moniker that its good to BE Russell Wilson certainly applies with this fellow.

      • art thiel

        If he were FIFA the Great Danes would have their own apartment.

    • art thiel

      That happens a lot in pro sports. Take a look at Adrian Peterson’s twitter laments about his treatment by the Vikes. In the twitter world, the hashtag #firstworldproblems would be wise.

      • Bruce McDermott

        Yup. Along with similar laments from Bennett and others about needing to make $X +Y million/year, as opposed to merely $X million, in order to “feed their families”.

        • art thiel

          My one asterisk is that the smarter ones understand that they have a relatively small work window to earn most of the money they will make in their lifetimes. And the fear of consequences from concussions has ratcheted up the pressure.

          • Bruce McDermott

            Tell you what. 5 years at an average of $3-5 mil/year–which is very low end for the high profile players who say such things–can pretty much “feed their families” very comfortably for the rest of their lives, even if they don’t make a penny more after they quit. It’s just tone deaf. Sometimes money just plugs the ears.

            And although fear of concussions certainly could be a legitimate basis to ask for more money, as a sort of compensation for the shorter healthy lifespan, presumably that is already factored into their calculus when they decide they will sign a contract.

  • Tman

    Looking for the missing yard? Could it be up Robert Krafts sleeve?

  • http://rip-ragged.com/dross Raymond Meyers

    As a Seahawks fan since 1974 (they hadn’t named the team yet), it’s hard to see a problem here. The Seahawks have the best defense in the league. Statistics that aren’t tabulated to capture “degree of offensive coordinator butt-pucker,” “quarterback discomfiture,” and “slot receivers looking like pigeons with broken wings in yards full of cats.” If such stats were used, the Seahawks D wouldn’t have to even chit chat about their superiority.

    The offense just has to keep Russell, or Tarvaris, healthy enough to finish games.

    Russell Wilson is playing the whole thing exactly correctly. He’ll do fine. I think he’s trying to make sure the team builds another SB run. And I believe they’ll succeed. Russell will be fine. Just fine.

    • art thiel

      I don’t think there’s overwrought worry about Wilson. The Seahawks are the ones on the tightrope.