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'The cards are mostly held by the Seahawks.' Thiel weighs in on Wilson's contract deadline.

Elaine Thompson
The Associated Press
Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll, right, greets quarterback Russell Wilson before a game against the Washington Redskins, Sunday, Nov. 5, 2017, in Seattle.

We've been hearing this week about Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson giving the team a deadline of April 15 for a contract extension. He's about to enter the last year of his current deal. KNKX sports commentator Art Thiel talked with Morning Edition host Kirsten Kendrick about the factors that might make Wilson stay or go.

"They're trying to create a market for Russell now because April 15 is two weeks ahead of the NFL draft," Thiel said.

"So, if the Seahawks actually decided that the situation with Russell is not going to work out, they could invite trade offers and get a lot for Russell because he's at the apex of his career.

"The Seahawks could be angling to get a whole lot for him but I don't think that's their agenda. I think both sides have incentive to stay, but this is what agents do — they try to stir the market and see what's out there."


"This comes at a pivot point in Russell's life," Thiel continued.

"This is probably the biggest decision he's ever had to make. Yes, it was a big deal to go to college and be a star. Yes, it was a big deal to get drafted by the NFL. And, yes, of course, winning a Super Bowl was big.

"He has since gotten married. He has two kids. All of these things are important, but he is at the apex of influence in terms of career. I think Russell has a bigger agenda."


"Brock Huard, the former (University of Washington) Husky and (professional) quarterback, has used the term 'mogul' to describe Wilson's ambitions. I think that's what Russell would like to be.

"He's had an interest in the Chris Hansen arena project, which has been stalled and may not happen, but he wanted to be part of the NBA action if the league ever returned to town.

"He also has a little bit of the action in Portland, where they have ambitions to build a stadium to get a Major League Baseball expansion franchise.

"And he's a helicopter pilot! And he does all sorts of other things with his business interests and his sponsorships, so his football career is not the be all and end all. I think that's part of it."


"The other aspect of Russell's potential apprehension is that Paul Allen is no longer in charge of the franchise," Thiel said.

"With his passing, Jody Allen, his sister, has inherited the enterprise and, so far, things seem to be normal.

"But the thing that's really held the Seahawks together is the fact that Paul Allen and (head coach) Pete Carroll and Russell Wilson are three very stable people at the apex of their enterprises and that axis is really at the heart of the Seahawks' success.

"Russell rightly can ask, 'What's in the future? Will Jody Allen sell?' Who knows? So, Russell has a reason to look around."


"I would guess there's enough incentive for both Wilson and the Seahawks to strike a deal by April 15," Thiel said.

"But the cards are mostly held by the Seahawks. The tool of franchise tag is something they can use on Russell to extend him into 2020 by paying him about $30 million a year, as opposed to the $17 million he's getting in the final year of his contract. They could do it one more time in 2021 at $36 million.

"I think the deal is going to get done. But I would not be shocked at all if they throw up their hands and say, 'Let's get a deal done by trading Russell Wilson now.'"

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Kirsten Kendrick has been hosting Morning Edition on KNKX/KPLU since 2006. She has worked in news radio for more than 30 years. Kirsten is also a sports lover. She handles most sports coverage at the station, including helping produce a two-part series on the 50th anniversary of Title IX and the ongoing series "Going Deep."
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.