Money Issues in Seattle?

The NFL way of business can be such a grind on fans. The system is set up so that teams cannot possibly keep all their top players, therefore parity reigns. Or so hopes the League. The simple fact is, the teams that best understand what players fit into their systems and do the better jobs of talent evaluation are continuously in the playoffs, and the teams that do those things well and then manage the cap well win Super Bowls. Managing the cap well is at most the third most important aspect to a team that is a perennial winner. Yet fans spend five months of the year discussing not the Xs and Os of their favorite team, but “how much cap space do we have?” or “how will we afford this player in two years?” These are the questions of fans whose teams are more in hopes of winning someday than doing some actual winning, which leads me to the money issues surrounding the Seattle Seahawks this offseason, beginning with the most talked about topic of Russell Wilson’s contract.

The difference between Wilson’s needs and the team’s needs is $20 million. Wilson has one year left on his rookie contract. The team wants him to sign an extension but also wants him to play next year finishing out his rookie deal. Based on that contract, Wilson will make $1.5 million in 2015. Wilson wants to sign an extension, too, but he wants the new money to start next year. And that new money per season would probably average around $20 million. The Seahawks can start paying him that much money in 2015 because the collective bargaining agreement allows them to. Here’s where the $20 million difference comes in. The Seahawks and Wilson both want to sign an extension, and that extension would be for four years. The Seahawks want the extension money to start in 2016, so that’s an $80 million deal. Wilson and his agent, Mark Rodgers, want the $20 million per season to start in 2015, plus then have the four years after. That’s $100 million. The Seahawks, however, have shown in recent past that they are willing to pay their top players, like Richard Sherman and Earl Thomas, for instance, top money, but only starting after their rookie deals are finished. They are asking Wilson to do only what they have asked other players to do. Wilson, however, is the quarterback, and we all know how fans and the NFL view quarterbacks: they are on another level from everyone else. Wilson knows this fact, and so do the Seahawks.

If the Seahawks choose to pay Wilson this season, though, the problem becomes how the other players in the locker room view Wilson. There were rumors last season that Wilson was not well-liked by everyone on the team. He “wasn’t black enough” or his squeaky clean image is “too good to be true.” And here lies potentially the biggest problem: teams can survive losing players to free agency (see: New England Patriots, Seahawks and Green Bay Packers, to name three), but teams start to unravel when you have locker room discord. I don’t work in the Seattle front office (yet *fingers crossed*), but if I did the main question I would be asking myself is, if we pay the quarterback big money in 2015, do we risk losing the team for years to come?

No matter if a contract gets signed or not, Wilson isn’t going anywhere. The business of the NFL allows the Seahawks to franchise Wilson in 2016 and beyond. Wilson is a perfect fit in the Seahawks offense. He wants to stay. A deal will get done, probably at the last minute possible. Seahawks fans can rest gently this offseason, and worry about the Xs and Os of whether they should pass at the one yard line in the Super Bowl next season, or actually just give it to Lynch this time.