MIKE SALK

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.

Control.

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

Control.

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

Control.

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.

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