‘New Contract Luke’: Willson talks his return to Seahawks after look at volatile world of free agency
Luke Willson wasn’t a free agent for long, but it was long enough to get the conspiracy theory-loving tight end’s wheels turning – and to unleash his new alter-ego.
“It’s ‘New Contract Luke,'” Willson told “Danny, Dave and Moore” Tuesday, days after re-signing with the Seahawks on a one-year deal. “He’s somebody young kids can look up to, very responsible.”
Willson signed on March 17 to a deal that reportedly could pay him up to $3 million and he explained his rationale for taking a hometown discount to return to Seattle after talks with multiple other teams. Willson said he never visited any other teams in person but he was “kind of on the phone constantly” with his agents about various circumstances. He described it as a “very volatile situation” in that there were daily changes, with teams jumping in and out with interest.
Willson said he expected to sign a longer-term deal but that he thought the numbers posted by tight ends at the scouting combine, mixed with his lack of gaudy stats and a knee-injury that required mid-season surgery, hurt his leverage.
“I didn’t want to get locked into a long-term deal that was, in my opinion, underpaid, and then all of a sudden I’m stuck there two or three years later,” Willson said. “I have belief in my ability. I thought when I was healthy, especially late in the year, I was playing some of my best football.”
Ultimately, Willson said, he called a few teammates, friends and Seahawks coaches before deciding to return.
“I was pretty vocal about I love Seattle, I love the atmosphere here, we’re gonna win some games and I think the potential of our offense is unlimited,” he said. “It would have been stupid for me not to come back and just to go to some other team, take something just because the figures were higher.”
Unlike the goofy Wolf of Wall Street Instagram video he posted to make the announcement, Willson said signing the deal was “very relieving” and gave him a new outlook on the sport and his job.
“Not to get too serious here, but it’s like, I don’t know what exact day I agreed – I think five or six days after free agency started – and you sit there and you’re like, ‘You know, I have no job. And to be honest with you, I have no home either,'” he said. “So it was kind of funny, but I told my buddies, ‘Well, I have no home, no job and nowhere to go.’ But it was just one of those things where you spend four years in Seattle and football is all I know and all I think about and all a sudden it kind of goes to show you how it’s a fragile game.”
Willson said he entered free agency with confidence he’d sign somewhere but that there was about a five-day window that put his situation into perspective.
“I was like, wow,” he said. “It just gave me perspective, it kind of motivated me to make sure I’m not in a spot in the future where I don’t have options or I’ve got to wait three or four weeks. It’s just fun when you can kind of control your own destiny.”
Despite his mini epiphany, the Seahawks will be retaining the same fun-loving Willson the team has come to expect since drafting him in the fifth round out of Rice University in 2013. Willson said he is currently training with quarterback Russell Wilson in Los Angeles and is also working on regrowing his long hair.
“I’m hoping this season leads to a long time for me in Seattle, but if not, I’m going out how I came in: with the long hair growing and flowing, and kind of coming out of the helmet,” he said. “So I’ve got a long way to go. It’s still relatively short right now but I think by the time the season starts, I can at least make some pretty good progress.
“I’m not gonna say it’s gonna be nice because it will probably still look terrible, but it’s gonna be a better terrible. Does that make sense?”
Other highlights from the conversation:
On taking a hometown discount: “I don’t want to get too much into numbers but I did talk to my agent and basically told him – even long-term stuff – I was like, hey, if we’re talking long-term, the only team that I’ll take under whatever X amount, would be to stay in Seattle over everywhere else.”
On the unforgiving nature of football: “Football is such a game where things change on a daily basis and I think the same thing happens in free agency. One week you have a good game and you catch some balls and you’re feeling great about where you’re at and the next week things don’t go your way and for me it’s like, oh my God, dude. I guess I’m a little dramatic but it’s one of those games where it’s like one moment you’re a guy and the next minute you just kind of feel like you’re useless.”
On NBA stars who claim the Earth is flat: “Yeah, I’m not on board with that one. … You guys know I love conspiracy, and I’m actually deep into some conspiracies and some Netflix stuff, which I can bring up once I formulate. I’m talking deep into some dark conspiracies. But the Earth is flat is just way, I mean, it just doesn’t. From there you’d have to say that there’s no technical rotation of the Earth, so how do you explain night and day – like the sun rising and setting. And on top of that, like the four seasons as well. That’s one I don’t know if I can get on board with.”
Well, until Dave Wyman tried to convince him to keep the hair short: “You know what, now that you say that, I think you’re right. At the end of the day, we need to put the kibosh on ‘New Contract Luke’ and the old wild man has to come out. I think the Earth is flat. The Earth is definitely flat.”