This is the level of paranoia John Schneider has created with his surprisingly explosive offseason: Russell Wilson’s agent apparently is concerned Schneider is looking to replace the quarterback.
In a very speculative segment for NFL Network, Jim Trotter passed on this tidbit: When Schneider checked out Wyoming QB Josh Allen’s pro day, Wilson’s reps asked Schneider, “Is there anything we need to know here?”
If this report is true, it really just speaks to the uncertainty, even among the team’s leading player, over the Seahawks’ long-term plan. Wilson has watched one of the NFL’s legendary defenses get almost completely blown up this offseason (trading Earl Thomas would finish off the demolition). So perhaps it is natural for the QB to wonder what his future is.
But Allen is considered a top-five pick — far out of Seattle’s reach in this draft — and Schneider was just doing his diligence, as he always does. If Wilson’s agent really asked why Schneider was doing that, he’s not very well-versed in the pre-draft process.
Besides, as dumb as some of Schneider’s moves have been this offseason, getting rid of Wilson would be purely moronic. Franchise quarterbacks do not grow on trees. To get rid of one of the NFL’s top QBs would put the Hawks right back where they were in 2011, with no promise of finding another and challenging for the Super Bowl again any time soon. And Schneider has said he never wants to be in full rebuild mode, so he’s not getting rid of his franchise QB.
Trotter speculates that Wilson could force his way out next year, but that’s very far-fetched. For one, the Seahawks will decide whether he stays — he is signed through 2019 and they could always use the franchise tag beyond that if no extension is reached next year.
In a long explainer of Seattle’s offseason situation, contract expert Joel Corry suggested the Seahawks extend Wilson now, both to provide salary cap relief and to get in ahead of escalating QB contracts.
But that seems very unlikely. For one, Wilson wants to see what Matt Ryan and Aaron Rodgers get — particularly whether they go for short guaranteed deals like Kirk Cousins got from Minnesota or stay with more conventional contracts.
When Wilson was negotiating his big contract extension in 2015, there was some thought that he was seeking a fully guaranteed deal. It turns out he settled for a shorter contract that came in just behind Rodgers in APY and payout in the first three years.
Cousins has become the first player to break the fully guaranteed barrier, after he signed a three-year deal with Minnesota that guarantees all $84 million.
It prompted Seahawks receiver Doug Baldwin to tout: “Kirk Cousins is a hero for all the young players that will follow after him. Now we need more players to bet on themselves until fully guaranteed contracts are the norm and not the exception.”
So, how will Cousins’ deal affect future NFL contracts? It might just make them shorter. Or it might make negotiations a lot longer.
The key numbers on any contract already are the first three years, the seasons the player seems certain to play. Teams will be reticent to fully guarantee beyond that. And teams will not like the idea of being unable to spread signing bonus proration over the maximum five years; it would force higher cap hits on short, expensive deals.
Detroit’s Matthew Stafford, signed to a five-year deal last year, had the previous high for fully guaranteed money: $60 million. And his three-year payout (locked in by Year 2) is $92 million — more than Cousins’ count. It just wasn’t all guaranteed at signing.
In their last deals, Rodgers and Wilson were paid over $56 million in the first three years. The full initial guarantees were $54 million for Rodgers and $31.7 million for Wilson — the difference largely because Wilson insisted on a four-year deal while Rodgers signed for seven. The three-year totals are the most significant, and Wilson ($56.1 million) came in a couple million under Rodgers ($58.2 million).
With Cousins getting 150 percent of what Wilson and Rodgers got over three years, you can bet their three-year payouts will skyrocket — whether they take the fully guaranteed route or not.
The big question: Will they push for short guaranteed contracts like Cousins got? And will their teams be willing or able to do it? Or will this just force teams to be more creative?
Wilson was insistent on a short deal (four years) last time, and his APY came in second to Rodgers’ — $22 million to $21.9 million. Eight QBs have now vaulted them, and Rodgers seems likely to become the first $30 million APY player. Wilson surely will want to hit that benchmark, too.
The Hawks have plenty of cap space beginning in 2019, so they can continue to pay Wilson. And they should.