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Salary cap expert Joel Corry previews the Seahawks’ biggest upcoming contracts

Frank Clark is in for a big payday from the Seahawks, possibly through the franchise tag. (AP)

The Seahawks have a few big contract decisions to make this offseason, and one player in particular could be seeing a record payday.

Seahawks’ potential free agency departures

Former NFL agent Joel Corry joined John Clayton on 710 ESPN Seattle Tuesday to break down what new contracts could look like for quarterback Russell Wilson, defensive end Frank Clark, linebacker K.J. Wright, and offensive linemen J.R. Sweezy and D.J Fluker.

QB Russell Wilson

Russell Wilson, who is under contract until 2020, hasn’t yet entered contract negotiations with the Seahawks, according to a recent ESPN report. But Corry says it’s a bit premature to jump to conclusions. Furthermore, there’s no sense of urgency for a team that is looking to work out deals for players whose contracts expire next month.

If and when Wilson and the Seahawks reach an agreement on an extension, though, he could become one of the highest-paid players in the league.

Corry predicts Wilson could be the NFL’s first $35 million per year player, and would presumably have at least $100 million guaranteed.

That salary would take up well over the 13 percent of cap space Wilson currently occupies, but Corry says such is the cost of a franchise quarterback.

“The thing is, in the NFL everything begins and ends with the quarterback,” Corry said. “That’s why you see teams willing to sell their soul to draft what they think is a franchise one.

“Let’s see what life would be in Seattle if you ended up signing a free agent who was the equivalent of what Matt Flynn was, or you’ve got a draft pick that turns out to be Blake Bortles, and then you’d be wishing you had Russell Wilson. So that’s just kind of the the nature of the beast.

“Once most teams have what they consider to be a franchise-caliber quarterback or a notch below, they’re not letting him out of town. And the cap’s going to keep going up. I assume the TV money is going to go up significantly, so that’s going to drive the cap up even more. And then some of the teams right now that don’t have big cap hits for quarterbacks will. Jared Goff’s number is going to go up in the next two or three years, same with Carson Wentz, that’s not going to be a cheap one. Patrick Mahomes will dwarf everything. So if you get Russell done sooner, rather than later, overtime it’s going to be cheaper, particularly as the cap increases.”

DE Frank Clark

Rather than Wilson, Seattle’s top priority this offseason will likely be defensive end Frank Clark. The Seahawks are expected to use the franchise tag on Clark (more on that here), but what would a long-term deal look like?

“Based on the comments his agent made, that they basically weren’t going to do anything stupid, I took that to mean ‘If you think we’re going to sign for Danielle Hunter money, think again’,” Corry said.

“So you’re not talking $14.5 million per year. The franchise tag is going to be $17.3 or $17.5 million, depending on where the cap ultimately settles in. The agent knows this. He might embrace the tag if he has to…

“What you’re gonna have is all these guys, great young pass rushers, good ones, probably getting franchised. Dee Ford, DeMarcus Lawrence again, Jedeveon Clowney. These guys are all going to be like guys at a junior high dance, not wanting to be the first one on the dance floor. So I think you’re going to be somewhere between an Olivier Vernon deal, which is about $17 million a year, and where the market went last year with Aaron Donald and Khalil Mack, at $22 or $23 million. I wouldn’t be surprised if all these guys are hovering at the $20 million per year range, or get in that club where you’re going to have at least $70 million in overall guarantees and maybe $45 or $50 fully-guaranteed at signing.

“And what happens if Trey Flowers isn’t franchised by New England and he’s the only one of these guys who is on the open market? He’ll attract a lot of interest. And what if he gets an outstanding deal? That’s going to be a barometer for all these guys. So there’s really no sense of urgency from the agent’s standpoint.”

Corry talked about a potential deal for linebacker K.J. Wright, and how guard Mark Glowinski’s recent extension with the Indianapolis Colts affects Seahawks guards J.R. Sweezy and D.J. Fluker. Listen to Corry’s full interview with Clayton in the audio clip embedded above, or on Clayton’s podcast page.

John Clayton on 710 ESPN Seattle
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