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Clayton: Why Russell Wilson-NY rumors are biggest non-story of Seahawks offseason

Rumors surfaced this week that Russell Wilson may want to leave the Seahawks for New York. (AP)

The biggest non-story of the Seahawks’ offseason is thoughts on the team possibly trading quarterback Russell Wilson.

Let’s get right to the point: They are not trading Russell Wilson.

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The Seahawks are trying to build a roster around Wilson that can get him back to the Super Bowl for a third time. Trading him would take expectations of this team from 10-plus wins to around six.

The NFL is a quarterback-driven league. If you don’t have a top quarterback, you can’t win. Wilson is one of the top five or six quarterbacks in the league, a master of the fourth-quarter comeback, and a winner.

The story that came out this week that the New York Giants might trade for Wilson to be Eli Manning’s replacement because Wilson’s wife, Ciara, wants to live in New York is insane.

Acquiring Wilson in a trade could take as long as four years. The franchise tag was created so teams can keep their quarterbacks. Wilson is signed through the 2019 season, and the Seahawks have the ability to franchise him for two years and, even though the franchise number goes through the roof for a third franchise tag, they could still keep him.

Naturally, the Seahawks would want to get Wilson on another long-term deal. A multi-year deal gives the team the flexibility to manage the salary cap and have room for other contract extensions or free agent signings.

I was looking at the numbers and realized even if Russell has to be franchised in 2020 and 2021, it wouldn’t affect the Seahawks’ ability to get other deals done.

This year, Wilson’s cap number is $25,286,668. That’s 13.3 percent of what is expected to be a $190 million cap. Those who manage the cap tell you that as long as the quarterback doesn’t eat up more than 15 percent of the cap, you’re in good shape. Detroit had Matthew Stafford getting 14.955 percent of the Lions’ 2018 cap. The San Francisco 49ers gave Jimmy Garoppolo a $37 million cap number in 2018, accounting for 20.88 percent of their cap, though they had a lower payroll because of having such a young roster.

By getting that much out of the way, the quarterback number is manageable for years to come.

If Wilson is franchised in 2020, his cap number goes up 20 percent to $30.344 million. Figuring the cap would jump from $190 million to $203 million, that would count as 14.9 percent of the cap. The 20 percent increase for a second franchise tag would take 16.8 percent of the 2021 cap.

Teams can also roll over unused cap room to the next year and have a bigger cap number. I figure the cap should go up $13 million per year for the next couple of years. Television money increases. Sponsorship money keeps growing. The gambling industry is giving the NFL more money through sponsorships.

If Wilson waits until next year to do his contract, he should be able to top the $33.5 million salary Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers received last year. Through the franchise tags for two years, Wilson would average $33.378 million.

I’m not saying this will be an easy negotiation. What I am saying the Seahawks won’t be in any cap situation that would make it feasible for them to trade Wilson. He will remain a Seahawk.

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John Clayton on 710 ESPN Seattle
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