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Seahawks' Wilson Contract: Bar Higher Now

Elaine Thompson
AP Photo

Negotiations continue between the Seahawks and quarterback Russell Wilson over extending his contract. Wilson has led the team to three playoffs and two Super Bowls during his first three years in Seattle.

But KPLU sports commentator Art Thiel says giving Wilson what many fans feel he deserves is easier said than done.

Wilson Under Contract For 2015

Wilson is entering into the last year of his rookie contract. Even if there's no extension signed by the start of the season, Thiel said it's important for fans to know that Wilson will be in a Seahawks uniform this year.

"It is NFL custom to try to renegotiate a long-term extension for worthy players at the end of the third year," Thiel said. "That's where we are. So, worry not about Wilson departing after this season. The question is where will his mind be when he starts at quarterback in 2015."

Same Draft Class - Nowhere Near Same Results

The pot was stirred this week by the contract extension signed by Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill. It pays him $77 million in new money over four years.

Wilson and Tannehill entered the NFL in the same draft class in 2012.  Tannehill was picked eighth in the first round while Wilson wasn't selected until the third round.

Thiel said there is no comparing the two.

“Tannehill has done almost nothing. He hasn’t made the playoffs. The Dolphins are 25-25 under his command," he points out.

"As a relatively ordinary quarterback, he’s getting very large coin. Although it’s about the base level that the rumors have had the Seahawks’ initial offer – around $80 million for four years.

"So, if Tannehill is worth $77 million for being ordinary, what might Russell’s deal be worth?" Thiel asks.

"To buttress that point there was a tweet this week that quoted the agent for Tannehill who said he had gotten a call from Seahawks general manager John Schneider. Schneider said ‘Thanks. You just cost me a lot of money.’

“Humorous but nevertheless telling, if true, because now the Seahawks are in the sweats that they have to really come up with some big coin if they want to give that long-term extension to Russell, which I think he deserves," Thiel said.

Easier Said Than Done

Fans may also think Wilson deserves the money. But Thiel said the Seahawks have another consideration.

"It’s the salary cap," he said. "The Seahawks have to distribute as much money as possible to as many players as possible under the cap so that they can retain that Super Bowl-caliber quality team. That’s hard to do when you’re dedicating $20 million or more (a year) to one player.

"It’s clear that Russell Wilson wants to be the best-paid player in the game. And that currently is Aaron Rodgers, the quarterback for Green Bay who’s making $22 million a year.

"Somewhere around that $20-22 million mark is what they want to hit. The Seahawks have to decide if it’s worth the risk this season to give him that much money."

Risks For Both Sides

Theil said injury is the biggest risk for Wilson if he plays 2015 under his rookie contract.

"If he gets a very serious injury he may never see the big money again that the Seahawks are offering now.

"The other subtle part of this is how does Russell operate in that season when risk of injury is paramount? That’s going to be a part of Wilson’s mental makeup that’s going to have to be taken into consideration.

"Will he play as hard and as well knowing the risk of injury could compromise his future?"

Hope To Seal Deal By Training Camp

Thiel said the Seahawks’ goal is to get the deal done  by the start of training camp on July 31.

"That’s plenty of time to still negotiate," he said. "It’s a difficult road but if they can clear Russell’s mind and the fans’ mind before July 31, I think a lot of people would be happy."


You can find Art Thiel's work at Sportspress Northwestand

Kirsten Kendrick hosts Morning Edition on KNKX and the sports interview series "Going Deep," talking with folks tied to sports in our region about what drives them — as professionals and people.
Art Thiel is a co-founder and writer for the rising sports website Sportspress Northwest. In 2003 Thiel wrote the definitive book about the Seattle Mariners, “Out of Left Field,” which became a regional bestseller. In 2009, along with Steve Rudman and KJR 950 afternoon host Mike Gastineau, Thiel authored “The Great Book of Seattle Sports Lists,” a cross between and Mad Magazine that has become mandatory reading for any sports fan who has an indoor bathroom.