No contract for Wilson yet, but Seahawks’ QB isn’t going anywhere

Russell Wilson fielded ground balls and took batting practice in a Texas Rangers uniform Saturday, which had nothing to do with football, but was nonetheless a refreshing change of pace because, momentarily at least, it meant Russell Wilson was being discussed without the phrase “contract extension” tacked onto his name.

Of course when he was done with his workout with the Rangers, the Seahawks quarterback was asked about a potential contract extension.

“In terms of my contract, I don’t really talk about that kind of stuff,” Wilson told reporters in Surprise, Ariz. “I love the game of football. I love playing the game of football. I try to put my best foot forward and I want to be the best to ever play the game. That’s the way I look at it.

“I’ve been fortunate enough to win a lot of games at such a young age and to be able to play with some great guys and have some great comeback wins and win a Super Bowl, and go to back to back Super Bowls. It’s been special. So that’s what I focus on. I focus on the next opportunity that I have. The rest will come. I believe God is going to bless me. I don’t know what’s going to happen, but I trust always. And I trust it’s going to work out the way it’s supposed to.”

So Wilson isn’t worrying too much about his contract just yet, or at least he won’t publicly admit to it. But because the NFL is now a 12-month-a-year business, and because we’re in a lull between the frenzied first week of free agency and next month’s draft, Wilson’s contract has once again become a huge topic of conversation around these parts even though the time to worry about the Seahawks quarterback’s contract status is a long, long ways away.

When it comes to Wilson’s contract talks, or lack thereof, now is a good time to remember the immortal words of “Animal House” antagonist Chip Diller.

Remain calm, all is well.

That doesn’t mean a deal is close, or imminent, or whatever phrase you want to throw out there. At this point, it isn’t, but a deal not being close in late March means nothing for the prospects of a deal getting done at some point this offseason. When I reached out to Earl Thomas’s camp in early April last year, the word was that there was no real progress towards a deal. By late April, Thomas had signed a four-year contract extension.

Again, it’s still March.

Wilson’s contract very well might take longer — figuring out how to pay a franchise quarterback $20 million or more per season while remaining competitive is one of the toughest juggling acts in professional sports — but whether a deal gets done in April, July, or even not before the start of the season, which is still the least likely scenario, the fact remains that Wilson is under contract through 2015, and if things really got contentious, the Seahawks control his rights in 2016 thanks to the franchise tag. So the Seahawks’ Pro Bowl quarterback/occasional Rangers second baseman isn’t going anywhere.

While there is always a chance that Wilson decides to play out his rookie deal to gain more leverage next offseason, that remains an unlikely scenario because both sides have plenty of incentive to get a deal done over the next few months rather than in a year from now.

For the Seahawks, paying Wilson a year early would be consistent with what they’ve done with other key young players like Kam Chancellor, Earl Thomas, Richard Sherman and Doug Baldwin — none of whom, by the way, were signed this early in the offseason (again, remain calm).

Getting Wilson done now also voids any awkward situations with the franchise tag, which no player wants, and which would also be bad for Seattle’s 2016 salary cap. And for Wilson, the motivation is simple: He’s due just over $1.5 million this season under his rookie deal, while he figures to average more than $20 million per season under his next contract.

Could Wilson, whom people are already speculating may become the highest-paid player in the league, improve his value a bit with another successful season? Perhaps a bit, but not by enough to recoup the millions he would be giving up in 2015.

Yes, Joe Flacco bet on himself in the final year of his rookie deal, an example cited as a reason Wilson could play out his deal, but Flacco wasn’t already considered one of the best quarterbacks in the league, as Wilson is now, and Flacco was also a first-round pick who signed his rookie deal under the old collective bargaining agreement, meaning he made $6.76 million in the last year of his rookie contract. It made more financial sense for Flacco to take that risk; the extra millions he earned on his next deal more than made up for what he gave up in 2012. Wilson has both less to gain and more to lose by playing out his rookie deal than Flacco did in 2012.

Now that the Seahawks have gotten through the first phase of free agency, and now that they have finished much of their draft preparation, the conversations with Wilson and his agent can get serious.

“It’s a long process,” Seahawks coach Pete Carroll told reporters at last week’s NFL Annual Meetings in Arizona. “It’s extraordinary ramifications and it’s ongoing and we’ve had great talks. The timing of it has been handled beautifully, expectations of the timing are clear, everybody knows what is going on and it’s clear and we’ll see what happens. There is so much magnitude in this deal and it affects so much and we are very well prepared and it is almost that time.”

This deal won’t get done overnight, and it may not happen this month. But at some point a deal will get done; both sides have too much incentive for it not to happen. You’ll hear that things aren’t going well, you’ll hear that a deal is close, that’s all part of the negotiation process, but eventually, Wilson will get his long-term deal. Until then, just remember: remain calm, all is well.

Herald Columnist John Boyle: jboyle@heraldnet.com

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