Clayton: All the ways Russell Wilson’s deal helps Seahawks going forward
Since coming into the NFL, Russell Wilson has been a master of the fourth-quarter comeback.
In getting a four-year extension from the Seahawks early Tuesday morning, Wilson showed his fourth-quarter ability as a business person. As a result, he not only became the highest-paid player in NFL history, but his new contract gives the Seahawks flexibility to get more deals done with other core group players.
We are still in the early stages of finding out the details of the contract. It appears to be a four-year deal at $140 million – $35 million per year – that includes a $65 million signing bonus and $5 million guaranteed base salary. Half of the $140 million is fully guaranteed.
Ignore any other guarantees because they would be injury guarantees. The way deals are done nowadays, the player usually gets a guarantee that is twice the average. That’s why $70 million works, because it’s two times the $35 million average.
The Seahawks won an important organizational precedent because it didn’t have to fund a guarantee into the second year of the deal. Since the Seahawks’ contract with Percy Harvin in 2013, they have put a clause in contracts that guaranteed all or parts of the second year base if the player is on the roster five days after the Super Bowl.
For days, I speculated that if Wilson got involved in the final hours before the Monday midnight deadline his team had set for the Seahawks, all he had to swap was the retention of that clause for more signing bonus money for him. With the signing bonus at $65 million, the Seahawks don’t have to guarantee anything in the final four years of the contract.
For those worried about Wilson eating up too much cap room and cash, don’t worry. Sure, the signing bonus far exceeded what the Seahawks wanted to pay. But his cap number only increased around $1 million this year and his cap numbers may be as slow as $31 million in 2020 and $32 million in 2021.
Going into next season, the Seahawks have the second-most cap room in the league. They can still do deals.
They have the flexibility to do extensions with Frank Clark, Bobby Wagner and Jarran Reed. Cap-wise, they are fine. Clark is the second-highest-paid Seahawk on the cap at $17.128 million. Wagner is third at $14.037 million. And there will be a savings by the start of camp when Kam Chancellor’s $12.5 million cap hit will be lowered by a release or official retirement.
Sure, there is speculation Clark’s name has been mentioned in trade conversations. Some think the Kansas City Chiefs are interested. General manager John Schneider has to listen to any possibility, but if they can get Clark an extension at under $20 million a year, they would get more cap room.
Deals are getting bigger for top players, but teams that pay quarterbacks find ways to make huge extensions. The Dallas Cowboys will be able to pay Dak Prescott between $25 million and $30 million a year this season. Cowboys owner/GM Jerry Jones still paid Demarcus Lawrence $21 million a year, and he will find a way to give Amari Cooper more than $16 million a year.
The Green Bay Packers signed Aaron Rodgers for $33.5 million a year and gave him $57.5 million to sign last year. Even with that, the Packers put $29 million a year for two edge rushers.
One of the keys to getting the Wilson deal done was his deadline. The deadline helped, and Wilson’s ability to scramble to reach a settlement in the final minutes locked him up on a four-year extension.