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February 16, 2015 at 9:10 PM

Assessing some options for the contract of Seahawks’ QB Russell Wilson

John Schneider’s comments last week that the team would look “outside the box” in negotiating a new contract for Russell Wilson were definitely, well, eyebrow-raising.

So I decided to talk to a couple of people who in media circles have pretty much become go-to guys for anything involving the NFL salary cap — Joel Corry of CBSSports.com and Jason Fitzgerald of OvertheCap.com — to see what they thought Schneider might have meant.

Each threw out a few ideas but also focused on a similar theme — a contract that is pretty much, if not completely, guaranteed, something that is a rarity in the NFL, with the certainty of the money meaning Wilson would give a little in the overall value of the deal.

I wrote this story as a result. But as us always the case when it comes to salary cap matters, there was a lot left on the cutting room floor.

So here are some more quotes from each (and also, the full quotes as sometimes those don’t all fit in the story for the print edition) on how they envision a Wilson contract could go down.

First, from Corry:

On doing something outside of the box: “There are only so many things you can do with the salary cap and be outside the box. One idea I was thinking about that could work and obviously Russell has got to buy off on anything, his agent works for him and not the other way around, so the agent would be not necessarily doing what the team would want to do but executing Russell’s wishes, is maybe some sort of a deal that had set some sort of a record for guaranteed money that won’t be broken for a while. I mean totally guaranteed and that won’t be broken for a while but the overall dollars are significantly less than what the typical quarterback deal would be or what you would expect the deal would be for him.”

On how that could be done: “Let’s say you did a five-year extension so you’re talking six years (starting after 2015). Then maybe you are guaranteeing like 75-80 million, something like that over that time, and give him a fully guaranteed contract. He has certainty that he earns the money, but the team gets a discount on what they are paying him and and you can sell it, so you are not necessarily getting criticized by the entire agent community so you are not doing a deal that would upset the market place is having so much more in guaranteed money. Maybe that’s something they could do.”

On if he would have done that as an agent: “The only way I would be willing to do a hometown discount as a player is if you fully guarantee the deal. That would be worth it because of the certainty. I don’t know what that number would be and how you would structure it year to year. The thing is if it’s fully guaranteed you’d have to fund it immediately. But that’s something  you wouldn’t have to worry about with Paul Allen because funding a guarantee wouldn’t be problem for him.”

On if there are other options for being outside the box: “Something that would be creative that you don’t see is maybe you have a base value with guarantees and there is something that triggers if he is performing at a certain level, that he would get some sort of bonus at a certain time during the contract or after a certain year that pays him the average of the top three, top five quarterbacks in the league.”

And from Fitzgerald:

Overall thoughts:  “Yes that was definitely an interesting quote (from Schneider). The creativity in contracts for quarterbacks has more or less been limited to what we saw with Colin Kaepernick and Andy Dalton last season, where the players take contracts with low real guarantees but possible incentives that can push the value of the contract higher. Considering Wilson has already won a Super Bowl and is considered superior to those players, I can’t see that being an “out of the box” way to deal with Wilson. Some may point to a contract with artificilly low cap numbers early in the contract, ala Joe Flacco and Drew Brees, by using either a large signing bonus or multiple signing bonuses, but that’s not really thinking “out of the box” either.

“There are two things that come to mind. One would be to use a similar contract mechanism to the one used by the Jets with Darrelle Revis. This deal was essentially a three-year contract that was set up for cap purposes as a six-year contract (they expectation is they would void in the 4th year). In theory perhaps the feeling would be they could sign him for a lower cost over three years (the going rate would be around $70 million) since he would be up for a lucrative contract extension again after just three seasons. In such a case the Seahawks could come in above Aaron Rodgers’ $22 million per year deal but not have the excessive cash flows that other deals have.

“The second stems from the fact that Wilson is now being represented by a baseball agent (Mark Rodgers). While I am not particularly familiar with MLB deals it does seem that in baseball the timing of the cash flows are not as important as the total value because the contract is fully guaranteed. A real outside the box contract for the NFL would be one where a majority of it is guaranteed upon signing. If they were willing to concede on this point I would guess you could see two outcomes. One would be that e would accept a lower annual value since the team is making a real 5-6 year commitment to him. The second is that they could compromise on the three year value and get a favorable cap structure from 2015-2017 and then kick in larger payments and cap charges from 2018-2021 when the cap itself should be much higher and the roster would have experienced sufficient turnover of the Marshawn Lynch, Richard Sherman, Earl Thomas, Kam Chancellor, etc… group making the big money. The fact that Wilson’s agent is likely not going to be as concerned with some of the more traditional football metrics might make such a deal work as long as the Seahawks don’t mind setting the precedent of such a large guarantee on a contract.”

 

 

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