Heaps: Why Seahawks should extend Wagner and Wilson this offseason

Feb 19, 2022, 9:36 AM

Seattle Seahawks Russell Wilson, Bobby Wagner...

Russell Wilson and Bobby Wagner react during a Seahawks-Titans game. (Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

(Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

With the offseason officially here, it’s clear to many where the Seahawks need to focus in free agency and the draft.

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As has been the case for the last few offseasons, the clear needs for Seattle are on the offensive and defensive lines, as well as at cornerback.

On the line, three of the five 2021 starters are hitting free agency. The defensive line is, for the most part, under contract for 2022, but that unit didn’t perform too well in terms of the pass rush as the Seahawks finished 22nd in sacks. And at cornerback, starter D.J. Reed as well as fill-in starter Sidney Jones are unrestricted free agents while Tre Brown, a 2021 rookie, is recovering from a knee injury that ended his season after just five games (three starts) and required surgery.

But former NFL quarterback Jake Heaps has a “surprising” offseason move he thinks the Seahawks should do. While the move Heaps wants to see could ultimately impact those three position groups, it doesn’t directly impact them from the start. He explained what he wants the team to do during 710 ESPN Seattle’s Jake and Stacy on Wednesday.

“It’s not about acquisitions. It’s not about trades or drafts,” he said. “… The surprise move that I want to see is that if you don’t want to move on from Bobby Wagner or Russell Wilson, I want to see a quiet contract extension being released during the offseason.”

Wilson, 33,  and Wagner, 31, both came to the Seahawks in the 2012 NFL Draft and have been franchise cornerstones ever since. Wagner was a second-round pick while the Seahawks took Wilson in the third round.

Wagner is an eight-time All-Pro and Pro Bowl linebacker who has been a longtime defensive captain for Seattle and holds the franchise record for career tackles.

Wilson, meanwhile, is a nine-time Pro Bowl quarterback who holds nearly every passing record in Seahawks franchise history and quarterbacked Seattle’s 2013 Super Bowl-winning team.

Both Wagner and Wilson have had their Seahawks futures listed as in doubt this offseason.

For Wagner, he has just one year left on his deal and has a $20.3 million cap hit. By cutting or trading the longtime defensive captain, the Seahawks would eat $3.75 million in dead cap but would free up over $16 million, per Spotrac.

With Wilson, he’s been the subject of trade rumors since last offseason when he voiced his displeasure with the team’s pass protection and how he wasn’t as involved as he wanted to be in personnel decisions. Wilson has two years left on his deal with cap hits of $37 million and $40 million the next two seasons, per Spotrac.

“I know it takes a lot to be able to make that happen. It’s not just as simple as going to the player and saying, ‘Hey, we want to extend your contract.’ Then Bobby Wagner and Russell will go, ‘OK, well, let’s money. What are we talking about here? What’s the years? What’s the guarantees?’ There is so much more to the conversation,” Heaps said. “But if these are the two players that you want to be with this organization for not just one year, but years beyond, I think it would be extremely important for this group to be able to continue to maneuver money and do it through contract extensions, to do it through Russell Wilson by adding maybe two more years to his deal and being able to backload some of his money for later down the road. Bobby Wagner, moving some of that money, that $20 million cap hit and let’s say you give him a one- or a two-year extension.”

By adding years to Wilson and/or Wagner’s existing contracts, the Seahawks would be able to free up more money early on in their deals, which would allow them to add talent, depth and, most importantly, superstars, Heaps said.

“Because right now, if you keep Bobby Wagner and you don’t move that contract, just his contract alone with Russell Wilson’s (staying the same), it is going to be extremely difficult to sign all of the guys you want to sign back from (last year’s Seahawks roster) and then go and get the premier talent that you need, that I believe you need, at the offensive line and defensive line position groups, specifically,” Heaps said.

Not only would extending Wilson and Wagner free up money, but it’d send a clear message to the rest of the league and the players in Seattle’s locker room.

“Maneuvering that money, I believe, will be critical and would be a great move for this organization to be able to make that happen and also to make a definitive statement that there is stability within this organization, that everyone truly is on the same page and is excited about what this team could do in terms of their goals and aspirations of chasing a Super Bowl,” he said.

Listen to the full second hour of Wednesday’s Jake and Stacy at this link or in the player below.

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Heaps: Why Seahawks should extend Wagner and Wilson this offseason