Schneider needs Wilson’s agent to be a team player

Wilson and SchneiderJohn Schneider sent a pretty strong message Wednesday about Russell Wilson’s contract, making it clear the Seahawks are not going to mortgage the rest of the roster for the sake of the quarterback.

Talking to KIRO Radio, he twice referred to football as the “ultimate team sport,” talked about keeping as many players as possible and said the Hawks need to “protect” themselves and “make smart decisions.”

The Seahawks are negotiating with Wilson’s agent, Mark Rodgers, but reportedly have not made much progress. Speculation is that Rodgers — a baseball agent — is working in baseball terms rather than football terms, not in sync with NFL economics. That was the fear when Wilson moved off veteran NFL agent Bus Cook and let Rodgers handle it.

“Every negotiation is unique … and this is no different,” Schneider told KIRO’s Dori Monson. “It’s the ultimate team sport. He’s our quarterback. We’d love him to be our quarterback. But the thing is we need to keep as many of these guys together as we possibly can.”

Schneider mentioned several players whose contracts come up next year — Bobby Wagner, J.R. Sweezy and Jermaine Kearse. He previously has mentioned Russell Okung as a core player, and the Hawks also need to decide on Bruce Irvin’s 2016 option.

“We’d like to move forward with a number of our guys who are going to be unrestricted next year,” the GM said.

Schneider has paid top-of-the-market deals to Earl Thomas, Richard Sherman and K.J. Wright over the past year, in addition to re-signing Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril, so he clearly is not cheap when it comes to paying his guys.

“This is the ultimate team sport. We have a track record of rewarding our players that we recognize as core players,” Schneider said.

Schneider referred to making difficult choices ever since he and Pete Carroll arrived in 2010.

“When we got here, we had to make some very tough (salary) cap decisions with Cory Redding and Nate Burleson,” he said. “They were two guys that we had a lot of respect for, but where we were on our cap at the time, we had to make decisions. And then we had a couple years without (cap concerns) and now we’re back in the world of a salary cap (restriction), and we need to be cognizant of that.”

Schneider previously said the Hawks would think “outside the box” on Wilson’s deal and not “do exactly what everybody else has done around the league.” He also has said Wilson “gets it. He wants to win. He wants to win for a long time.”

Some interpreted that to mean Wilson would take a below-market deal; others (us included) figured he was referring to a team-friendly structure.

Schneider surely knows the Hawks are going to have to pay the going rate to Wilson, which is around $20 million on average and at least $60 million guaranteed.

Some have suggested that the Hawks would be fine paying Wilson one-year deals under the franchise tag for the next couple of years. But why would they want to take a $20 million hit against their cap in 2016 and a $24 million hit in 2017 when a long-term deal would make those cap figures lower?

Some people think Wilson’s “dream” of wanting to play baseball was a negotiating bluff (it wasn’t), but Schneider is not bluffing when he says he is not going to mortgage the franchise for one player.

It’s possible to interpret Schneider’s comments as saying he is willing to let Wilson go if a fair deal is not possible. While many would find that idea unthinkable, consider the fact that Schneider found Wilson in the third round and added him to a team that already had a very good (now dominant) defense and physical, effective running game — both elements are a quarterback’s best friend.

To say that Schneider could not find another diamond-in-the-rough QB would be inaccurate, simply based on the GM’s past work.

But Schneider’s point is clear: He just wants a deal that works for the team as well as the player.

“We have to be able to protect ourselves as we go,” he said, surely a reference to not guaranteeing too much money to one player, “and make smart decisions in trying to keep this whole thing together as long as we possibly can.”

For more on Wilson’s deal …

Looking at the top QB contracts in the NFL

Carroll: No reports on Wilson’s deal are correct

Looking at guaranteed money and cash/cap ratio

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