In his interview with Brock and Salk on 710 ESPN yesterday, Mark Rodgers left Seahawks fans feeling pretty optimistic about the chances of him and the team striking a deal for Russell Wilson at some point.
Brady Henderson and Bob Condotta both transcribed the interview, offering up key points such as (1) the sides feel no pressure to get a deal done, (2) Wilson would be fine playing out his rookie deal at $1.54 million in 2015, (3) the sides have had positive talks and made progress and (4) Wilson hopes to remain in Seattle for a long time.
Not covered in those recitals of the interview were two related concerns regarding Rodgers and his inexperience in negotiating a major NFL contract.
He’s a baseball guy, and there has been concern that he might not understand the intricacies of NFL deals.
“To label me a baseball agent as though that might be a defect or a negative is inappropriate probably in this case,” he said. “I understand the collective-bargaining agreement and the marketplace and the salary cap and the issues that will be relevant to us moving forward in our conversations with the Seahawks.
“I think the positive thing, at least for the Seahawks, is maybe it brings a little bit different perspective to the negotiations. Maybe there are some ideas and thoughts that we use in baseball that aren’t necessarily used in football.”
One big question has been how Rodgers would value the extension. Would he view only the new money or would he add the existing final year into the computation? The way John Schneider and Matt Thomas (Seattle’s contract guy) do deals, they almost always simply add the extension to the existing deal, with a signing bonus serving as the big extra payment in the coming season and the extension taking effect the next year.
“NFL contracts are complicated,” Rodgers said. “There are so many different ways to formulate a contract. … Guaranteed money is so important in deals. Total value sometimes, especially with quarterbacks and big deals, is a little bit of a misnomer, because total money presumes the player is going to make every penny in that deal.”
That comment jibes with reports that guaranteed money is the real sticking point in this negotiation. Ryan Tannehill’s deal (with $21.5 million guaranteed at signing) should help Rodgers a bit there, but there still would be a big gap between that amount and the $40 million fully guaranteed the top quarterbacks get and Rodgers surely would like for Wilson.
Rodgers also pointed out that franchise QB deals are not meant to last. He pointed out that Tony Romo, Ben Roethlisberger, Tom Brady and Peyton Manning all have renegotiated their deals before they expired.
“The truth of the matter is these contracts for quarterbacks typically never get to the end,” he said.
As for the format of the deal, Rodgers said option bonuses, workout bonuses and other payment methods are being considered.
“All of those things are relevant. They’re all in play,” he said. “The key for us is to figure out which variety of those and what amounts do we place on each to get a deal done that’s reasonable.”
The Seahawks typically do not do big option bonuses, but in this case they should consider one. It would give Wilson the guarantees he wants and keep his cap hits reasonable.
Asked about Schneider’s comments that he wants to work “outside the box” and not mimic other QB deals, Rodgers said he understood Schneider’s stance and the way he wants to put together his team — although Rodgers did not say he agreed with the approach in Wilson’s case.
“Matt Thomas and John Schneider have done a very, very good job of laying out their system and their approach to these negotiations. I understand it completely,” Rodgers said, adding, “I think they understand how we view Russell.”
Asked how Wilson should be judged based on the fact that he does not have the gaudy passing stats of the aforementioned QBs, Rodgers said, “It’s all about winning. There’s value in winning. That’s the key element. … They’ve won an awful lot of games here with him as the starting quarterback. I’m not of the mindset, as some people are, that you could put any quarterback in the league as the starting quarterback for the Seahawks and they would have played in the Super Bowl the last two seasons.”
Clearly, No. 1 defense in the league and a smashmouth, wear-you-out running game have helped Wilson. And there certainly are a number of quarterbacks who could have done what he has with those supporting (or leading) elements in place. The Seahawks surely know that, but they probably have not said that because they appreciate the unique qualities Wilson does add to the team.
Rodgers said neither side is trying to find leverage against the other in these talks, so there appears no danger of them becoming overly contentious.
Meanwhile, discussions will continue.
“Matt Thomas and I will have a conversation soon again,” Rodgers said, “and we’ll continue to talk about where we’re at and where we’re going and how we might get there.”