Salk: Why Russell Wilson gave Broncos a break he wouldn’t have given Seahawks

Sep 2, 2022, 12:01 AM

Seahawks Russell Wilson Broncos...

Broncos QB Russell Wilson responds to questions as GM George Paton listens at a news conference Thursday. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

(AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

We’ve known since the day he was traded that Russell Wilson would sign a massive new contract in Denver.

Russell Wilson gets five-year, $245 million extension from Broncos

There was no way the Broncos could give up that many assets without making a long-term commitment to their new prize. And because that gave Russ all the leverage, many of us assumed he would use it to pry even more money and an even larger guarantee out of his new team. After all, that had been a huge sticking point in his last negotiation here.

Instead, he signed for less money and a lower guarantee than Kyler Murray. Make no mistake, he won’t have to sell any of his properties to make ends meet or anything. But the deal was not worth as much as many expected.

After signing it, he made it clear that his primary goals were not financial. He said at his press conference that the deal is really about “being able to win championships and being able to have enough space in the salary cap so (Denver GM) George (Paton) can make his magic.”

Oh really?

“For me, it wasn’t really about how much (money), necessarily. It was about how many Super Bowls we can win. That’s really the focus,” Wilson said.

That’s different.

First of all, Russ is right and wrong here. It’s at least a little about money. After all, he will be one of the highest-paid players in the league. But I believe him when he says it’s about championships because he is doing what Tom Brady did for all those years in order to give his team the best chance to win. He is truly putting his money where his mouth is, and I respect him for it.

But why did Russ give the Broncos a break after pushing for every last dollar here in Seattle?

The answer is very simple: control. He wanted it here and was denied. He got it there, so he is playing ball. It is that simple.

And I don’t necessarily blame him. Having control over your life is great! It allows you to eliminate variables, and that’s important especially for people with an entrepreneurial spirit like he has. This is the same guy who starts new companies like I start new diets – a new one every few months.

He likes to be in control of every situation. He likes to be in charge. And if he wins, he wants the credit.

I think he believes the reason he hasn’t won in a while is because too many factors were out of his control. The offense, the assistant coaches, the player personnel decisions.

For a while now, Russ has made it pretty clear he wanted more control. In fact, my understanding is that he was willing to rework his deal here in Seattle to offer the Seahawks more flexibility to sign free agents. The one caveat? He wanted to be know who those players were.


Remember when he called out the offensive line and said the team needed more stars?


Remember when he wanted to help choose the new offensive coordinator after Brian Schottenheimer was dismissed?


Why is he in Denver right now instead of in Philadelphia, where they were rumored to have offered a better deal? Because he worked a no-trade clause into his last deal.

Again, control.

And what are the stories we are hearing out of Denver?

That like the end of Rush’s epic “2112,” Russell Wilson has assumed control. (Sorry, I couldn’t resist.)

He has a brand new coach in Nathaniel Hackett that comes from the offensive side of the ball, and Hackett has already pledged to give Russ what he wants.

“We want to build this thing completely around him,” Hackett said in May.

And Russ has taken that ball and run with it, the way he did for the first nine years of his career but mysteriously not the final year in Seattle.

‘”It’s the ownership of the players owning our own offense,” Wilson said to Peter King, nearly breaking a record for using the word “own” in a sentence. Then he went on to describe a play for his tight end that Russ changed to make it better. He had full control to do that and that sounds like something he wanted to emphasize.

We have also heard reports of his family, friends, and entourage walking in and out of the Broncos’ facility and setting up shop inside. That is practically flaunting your level of control!

Look, I understand why Russ wanted to control as many variables as possible. He is very concerned about his legacy and he needs to be seen as leading a team to another Super Bowl to cement it. The last few years haven’t gone how he wanted them to and now he is on a mission to prove to the world that he wasn’t at fault.

But there is a reason why the Seahawks never felt comfortable turning over the keys to him in the way he desired. Maybe it was something about his decision making. Maybe it was a belief that he wanted to be in an offense that didn’t best take advantage of his strengths. Maybe they just have the silly idea that players should play, coaches should coach and GMs should GM. And maybe they are stuck in the mud and made a huge mistake.

But Russell Wilson wanted, above all else, to be in control. That’s why he signed this deal in Denver. Now we’ll find out whether he can live up to it. Because win or lose, the credit and blame will be squarely on the one in control.

Fann’s ’22 Seahawks Outlook: Where the wins could come from

Brock and Salk podcast

Mike Salk

Seattle Mariners trade deadline Brent Rooker Dylan Moore...

Mike Salk

Salk: Mariners have two types of hitters to target at trade deadline

Should the Seattle Mariners make a trade for a struggling hitter with a big name, or a lesser-known one who is producing now? Mike Salk says yes to both.

7 days ago

Seattle Mariners Ken Griffey Jr Ken Griffey Sr LeBron James Bronny James...

Mike Salk

Salk: The Griffeys, the Brons, and the joy of father-son teammates

LeBron and Bronny James becoming Lakers teammates brings to mind the Griffeys' time with the Mariners, and what it's like to be teammates with a family member.

20 days ago

Seattle Mariners Jerry Dipoto Jonny Farmelo...

Mike Salk

Salk: With stocked farm system, Mariners can have cake and eat it too

The Seattle Mariners' farm system is turning heads again, and at an opportune time for the team leading the AL West.

1 month ago

Seattle Kraken GM Ron Francis...

Mike Salk

Salk: Who Seattle Kraken can target in crucial offseason

Seattle Sports co-host Mike Salk analyzes the Seattle Kraken and two offseason additions the team could make to improve.

2 months ago

Seattle Seahawks Mike Macdonald...

Mike Salk

Salk’s Observations: What we saw at Seahawks’ first open OTA practice

Mike Salk of Seattle Sports was at the first open Seahawks OTA practice under new coach Mike Macdonald on Wednesday. He shares his takeaways.

2 months ago

Seattle Mariners...

Mike Salk

Salk: The clear trade route for Mariners to capitalize on this year

Bats will be available this year on the trade market. How should the Seattle Mariners go about getting them? Mike Salk explains.

2 months ago

Salk: Why Russell Wilson gave Broncos a break he wouldn’t have given Seahawks