Seahawks’ Wilson set to benefit as quarterbacks’ salaries increase

Turns out, Russell Wilson got back to the Super Bowl, after all.

The Seahawks’ quarterback has been in Minneapolis this week for festivities around Sunday’s Super Bowl 52. On Thursday, Wilson talked about his charitable and philanthropic motivations while on a panel discussion hosted by Microsoft at its store in the Mall of America in suburban Bloomington, Minnesota. That’s about 10 miles from this weekend’s NFL title game between New England and Philadelphia.

Wilson’s panel was called “Create Change.”

Change has already been created for Wilson this week. Potentially mammoth financial change.

He became one of the happiest people in the league not named Alex Smith or Kirk Cousins.

Smith, the Kansas City Chiefs quarterback, got traded this week to Washington. The Redskins then, according to ESPN, agreed to give the 33-year-old a new, four-year contract worth $23.5 million annually with $71 million in guarantees.

That means the Redskins are about to make Cousins, their starter until now, a free-agent quarterback. For years they’d kept him from the market with a franchise-tag designation. Cousins is four years younger and has a higher career passer rating than Smith, who is now on his third team.

So how many tens of millions is Cousins going to get as the most attractive free-agent quarterback available this spring? In a league that values and inflates quarterback markets higher and harder than Bitcoin?

Back up the Brinks.

And all that means Wilson is going to get even bigger bank when his Seahawks contract ends after the 2019 season.

For him, back up the whole darn vault.

Wilson is younger than both Cousins and Smith. He’s started two Super Bowls. He’s been selected to as many Pro Bowls in his six seasons as Cousins and Smith have (four). Wilson is coming off a 2017 season in which he led the NFL with 34 touchdown passes and gained a league-record 86 percent of Seattle’s yards on offense.

If Smith is getting $23.5 million per year with $71 million guaranteed, Cousins could be headed for at least $25 million on average in March. Plus, Atlanta’s general manager has already said a new contract for Super Bowl quarterback Matt Ryan, the league MVP two seasons ago, is a top priority this offseason. Ryan has taken his Falcons farther than Smith and Cousins ever have taken their teams, yet to only to half as many Super Bowls as Wilson has led Seattle.

And if Ryan is going to get more than Smith and Cousins then two-time NFL MVP and 2010 Super Bowl MVP Aaron Rodgers should be worth at least $30-35 million per year to the Green Bay Packers, right?

Essentially, each domino that falls is likely a raise for Wilson.

Rodgers’ contract with Green Bay ends when Wilson’s does with Seattle, following the 2019 season. Rodgers is scheduled to earn $19.8 million in base pay in 2018 and $20 million in ‘19. He will be 36 years old when his current contract ends.

Wilson will have just turned 31 at the end of 2019 – younger than Smith is now. Wilson’s agent Mark Rodgers insisted in 2015 when he and Seattle hammered out their $87.6 million extension with $61.5 million guaranteed that the current deal be only four years. The Seahawks wanted five, because every team wants to have their franchise QB under contract control for as long as possible. That sticking point is why negotiations on Wilson’s deal dragged through that entire offseason three years ago, into the start of training camp.

“(It) puts him in a situation where he’s still a young man and he gets an opportunity maybe to talk about another contract down the road,” the agent said on July 31, 2015, the day the Seahawks announced Wilson’s richest deal in team history. “You don’t do a contract necessarily thinking about the next contract. But I think that’s the big difference between a four-year extension and a five-year extension. That’s a long year.

“That was a bit of a goal and I think we got there. And he was pleased with it.”

Or, as Wilson put it that day: “Pretty cool.”

Wilson is scheduled to earn $15.5 million in base pay this year and $17 million in 2019. His a cap number is $23.8 million and $25.3 million in the last two years of his deal.

That’s with the per-team salary-cap limit expected to settle at $178-180 million for 2018. Thanks to league revenues from steadily climbing broadcast and streaming rights, the NFL salary cap has increased each year since 2013 by $10 million, $10 million, $12 million, $12 million and $11 million.

At that annual rate of inflation the league’s cap will be at least $200 million per team in 2020. That is also the year of the next negotiations between the league and its players’ union, talks that union chief DeMaurice Smith said Thursday at the Super Bowl he is preparing as if it will be “war.”

Smith is girding for labor acrimony to get his players a larger piece of the NFL’s giant cash pie, not a smaller one. So that cap number could be well north of $200 million in the first year’s of Wilson’s next deal.

This time next year, the Seahawks will be faced multiple, weighty considerations about Wilson’s future, most importantly the issue of how much of their cap do they want to devote to him.

While the intent of his agent was to get Wilson to the cusp of free agency again in 2020, the Seahawks could of course keep him off the market by using their franchise tag on him for that year. The franchise-tag number for quarterbacks is projected to be $23.6 million this year. It’s only going to go up the next two years. And it will potentially skyrocket after Smith, Cousins and then Ryan and perhaps Rodgers get their new deals.

Wilson and his agent would be all for that. Yes, their insistence on holding the Seahawks to four years in 2015 is going to pay off royally after two more seasons.

Wherever the imminent gold rush leads, the cost of the Seahawks retaining their franchise cornerstone spiked this week. Perhaps higher than even Wilson could have expected.

Talk to us

> Give us your news tips.

> Send us a letter to the editor.

> More Herald contact information.

More in Sports

Jackson’s Ryan Mcferran (0) shoots the ball during a boys game between Jackson and Puyallup at Shorewood High School on Friday, Feb. 23, 2024, in Shoreline, WA. Jackson won, 55-48. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
Jackson boys overcome adversity again, reach round of 12

The Timberwolves survive foul trouble to defeat Puyallup 55-48 in a Class 4A loser-out game.

Lake Stevens’ Tessa Anastasi heads to the basket against Skyview during a playoff matchup at Arlington High School on Thursday, Feb. 23, 2024, in Arlington, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Lake Stevens girls book their spot at the Tacoma Dome

The Vikings knock off Skyview 47-33 to advance to the Class 4A round of 12.

Davis’ Blake Garza (2) dunks the ball during a boys game between Glacier Peak and Davis at Shorewood High School on Friday, Feb. 23, 2024, in Shoreline, WA. Glacier Peak fell, 65-54.. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
Glacier Peak boys outmuscled by Davis in 65-54 loss

The Grizzlies lose the battle of the boards as they’re knocked into the Class 4A round of 12.

Mountlake Terrace boys drop heartbreaker to O’Dea

A last-second bucket results in a 59-57 defeat as the Hawks drop into the 3A state round of 12.

State basketball roundup for Friday, Feb. 23

State basketball roundup for Friday, Feb. 23: (Note for coaches/scorekeepers: To report… Continue reading

Toby Trichler, right, yells during a team cheer before the start of the game on Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2024 in Shoreline, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Sultan boys overcome hurdles to break 15-year state drought

A flooded gym and rotating lineup haven’t stopped the Turks from reaching their goal.

Snohomish junior Tyler Gildersleeve-Stiles shoots a free-throw in a close game against Garfield during a playoff matchup at Arlington High School on Thursday, Feb. 23, 2024, in Arlington, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Snohomish girls’ rally falls short against Garfield

Katie Fiso and the Bulldogs send the Panthers to the round of 12 with a 46-40 loss.

Seattle Seahawks tight end Will Dissly (89) stiff arms Detroit Lions linebacker Alex Anzalone (34) while carrying the ball against the Detroit Lions during the second half of an NFL football game Sunday, Sept. 17, 2023, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Duane Burleson)
Why the Seahawks could part with ex-Husky Will Dissly this offseason

The UW product is the only tight end under contract for 2024, but the team could save nearly $7 million in salary cap space if he’s released.

Seattle Mariners center fielder Julio Rodríguez warms up during spring training baseball workouts Thursday, Feb. 15, 2024, in Peoria, Ariz. (AP Photo/Lindsey Wasson)
Servais calls 2024 Mariners ‘the hungriest team I’ve ever had’

The team is ready to rewrite the script after a disappointing postseason miss last year.

Matt King of Team United States swims in the Men's 4x100m Medley Relay final at the World Aquatics Championships in Doha, Qatar, Sunday, Feb. 18, 2024. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)
Community roundup: Glacier Peak grad captures gold at swim worlds

Plus, an Edmonds College basketball coach reaches a milestone, and spring teams at Edmonds and Everett nab top-10 NWAC rankings.

Seattle Seahawks running back Kenneth Walker III (9) during the first half of an NFL football game against the Arizona Cardinals, Sunday, Jan. 8, 2024, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)
Walker, Charbonnet sure to lead RB corps again

The running back position brings rare certainty to Seattle’s offseason of upheaval.

Monroe players hug after a tough loss during a 3A girls game between Monroe and Roosevelt at Roosevelt High School on Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2024, in Seattle, WA. Monroe fell, 58-37. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
Monroe’s charmed run ends against Roosevelt in 3A state regionals

After winning three loser-out games to reach state, the Bearcats struggle with the Rough Riders’ tenacious press in a 58-37 loss.

Support local journalism

If you value local news, make a gift now to support the trusted journalism you get in The Daily Herald. Donations processed in this system are not tax deductible.