Russell Wilson was indeed at the VMAC in Renton Monday as the Seahawks opened their official offseason training program.
His agent Mark Rodgers was also said to be there, too, negotiating a contract with the team to try to assure Wilson’s long-term status as the team’s quarterback.
Wilson is under contract for 2019, due to make a base salary of $17 million as part of a four-year, $87.6 million deal signed in 2015.
But he’d like an extension and set a deadline of Monday to get it done.
As 2 p.m. Monday hit, sources confirmed that the two sides were talking but there was no indication yet of whether a deal will get done.
Regardless of whether or not he has a new contract, it has been expected that Wilson will fulfill all of his regular requirements, including the offseason training program, which began Monday and is technically voluntary.
In one of a series of photos released by the team, Wilson was pictured alongside defensive tackle Jarran Reed (who is also entering the final year of his contract), as the Seahawks at least answered one question on the day, even if many more remained.
Not pictured anywhere was defensive lineman Frank Clark, whose status also remained in question as he has yet to sign a franchise tag that would pay him $17.1 million this season while the two sides try to work out a long-term deal. Clark did not attend voluntary sessions last year, either, raising the expectation that he also won’t be around this year until his future is settled, or mandatory camps begin.
As for Wilson, rumors continued to swirl Monday about his future, and as is often the case in a high-level negotiation in which no one on either side is saying anything publicly, some of it was conflicting.
While noted NFL writer Peter King reported that one sticking point is that Wilson’s side would like a contract with so-called “escalator clauses” tied to the salary cap — meaning, Wilson’s contract would rise as much as the cap does each year — former Seahawks QB and close friend of Wilson, Jake Heaps, said on ESPN 710 Seattle those are not an issue and that the main hang-up is guaranteed money, and particularly in years two and three.
Seattle has had a precedent of not guaranteeing base salaries other than for injury beyond the first year of the contract (with any guarantees typically kicking in five days following the season). But Wilson may be asking for fully guaranteed money throughout much, if not all, of the contract.
The Seahawks could place a franchise tag on Wilson for the 2020 and 2021 seasons, with combined totals equaling about $67 million, and while that would not be ideal for the team because it all has to be carried on that season’s salary cap instead of spread out over the life of the contract, it does assure Seattle that it controls his fate for a few more years. Seattle could also use a cap in 2022, though that figure would be roughly $53 million, which has made it seem unlikely things would ever get that far.
What Wilson almost certainly wants is a contract that would top the $33.5 million per year average of Green Bay QB Aaron Rodgers, who is currently the highest-paid player in the NFL, and/or guarantees topping the $94.5 million that Atlanta QB Matt Ryan received last year, an amount that was fully guaranteed at signing.
But the Seahawks had to weigh how to re-sign Wilson while also knowing they have decisions coming on Clark as well as Reed and middle linebacker Bobby Wagner.
While the world waited on word on Wilson, the Seahawks did make a few moves, with restricted free agents George Fant and Quinton Jefferson officially signing their tenders, and nine exclusive rights free agents also signing their tenders.
The nine ERFAs kept in the fold are: linebackers Austin Calitro and Emmanuel Ellerbee, center Joey Hunt, defensive end Branden Jackson, safetey Shalom Luani, running back J.D. McKissic, snapper Tyler Ott, cornerback Kalan Reed and guard Jordan Simmons. The only ERFA who did not sign his deal Monday was receiver David Moore. But Tom Peliserro of the NFL Network reported that Moore will sign his contract Tuesday.