Russell Wilson says he hopes to sign a contract that will keep him with the Seattle Seahawks for “a long time.” He says nothing has discouraged him from believing that will happen.
The agent for the two-time Super Bowl quarterback said last week he is “optimistic” he can get that deal done.
Seahawks general manager John Schneider, the man heading the negotiations, has said how much the franchise wants Wilson for the long term.
Coach Pete Carroll went even longer-term last month, saying: “We are so excited about getting Russell (an extension) and keeping him forever. We want to do all of that.”
Sounds like all that’s left to do is … uh, finish the contract already.
That’s essentially where the much-debated, long-awaited situation stands after Wilson declared Tuesday, “I believe it’s going to work out. I want to be here for a long time.”
All parties sound agreeable. They’ve said the talks have been amenable.
Yet Wilson also said he is prepared to begin training camp at the end of July and even the 2015 regular season without a new contract. His rookie one as Seattle’s third-round draft choice in 2012 ends after this coming season, for which he will earn $1.5 million in base pay.
“Yeah, I’m prepared for that 100 percent — if that’s the case,” Wilson said, five days after his agent Mark Rodgers told Seattle’s 710 ESPN radio there was no deadline on getting a new deal done.
“You know, I want to be here for a long time. But if that’s the case, I’ve just got to get ready to play,” Wilson said.
That was after he threw about a half-dozen touchdown passes to smiling, leaping and football dunking Jimmy Graham. The new tight end has already added new juice to Seahawks practices and their locker room; Seattle’s top-ranked defense couldn’t cover him much Tuesday as Wilson kept throwing to him during the fifth organized team activity practice.
Wilson was asked following the latest practice of these voluntary OTAs that began last week at the Virginia Mason Athletic Center how important it was for him to spend “a long time” —if not his entire NFL career —with one team.
“That’s the ultimate, you know, thing I’ve always wanted,” he said. “I think it has to be the right situation, obviously. But I’ve always wanted to play in one city, especially like this that I love, a place that’s meant a lot to me.
“I’ve moved around enough, honestly,” he said, chuckling. “I played (minor-league) baseball first. Came out to Pasco, Washington (for short-season Single-A ball while in college). It’s like déjà vu. Then I went back to N.C. State and had to transfer to Wisconsin, a place that I never imagined going. It was kind of a crazy whirlwind. It worked out tremendously. And I always have confidence. No matter where I am I believe it will always work out.
“In this situation, I hope that it’s here. And I hope that it’s here for a very long time. I hope that I get to wear Seahawks blue and the No. 3 for a long time. We’ll see what happens.”
Wilson missed last week’s first two OTA practices to attend funerals in Florida with Graham for the tight end’s mentor and close friend, then for the father of teammate Cliff Avril. Wilson rejoined the team for Friday’s on-field drills and then Monday’s. Tuesday, in his second practice with Graham, the quarterback looked sharp — considering it’s the first week of June. His throws were short on what was a day focused on red-zone drills inside the 20.
Wilson mentioned his new work this offseason in San Diego with a new trainer, Ryan Flaherty, to get faster and stronger, especially in his legs. Though he gained a few pounds, up to 216, he wants to be faster getting away from the many defenders that have poured through Seattle’s offensive line in recent seasons. They are likely to again this season when that line has at least two new starters, at center and left guard.
“Working on my legs has really helped my arm strength too, as well,” he said.
But the focus Tuesday was on his contract situation, not his passing.
Wilson spoke Tuesday about an hour after Carolina quarterback Cam Newton, the league’s No. 1-overall draft pick the year before Wilson entered the NFL, signed a five-year contract extension reportedly worth $103.8 million with up to $60 million guaranteed.
Asked about that deal, and about whether the much-discussed $20 million-per-year plateau is the start of what he’s seeking from the Seahawks, Wilson predictably avoided those queries like an oncoming defensive end.
“I’m not going to talk about money,” he said multiple times in 15 minutes. “That’s a private matter.”
But you can be sure he and his agent are noticing those numbers, especially the guaranteed money. Guaranteed cash is king for NFL players, who don’t have guaranteed contracts like those most lavishly in major league baseball. And guaranteed cash is likely the hurdle that is keeping Wilson’s deal from being done.
Meanwhile, the league’s market on quarterbacks isn’t waiting. Newton’s numbers may now be the new floor for Wilson’s deal with Seattle — especially given Newton is a career sub-.500 QB who has yet to reach the Super Bowl. Wilson’s record including the playoffs is 42-14, the most wins in the first three years of a career by a quarterback in league history, with two Super Bowl starts. And he is 4-0 against Newton in his career, including January’s win over Carolina in the NFC divisional playoffs.
Graham was dynamic in his second Seahawks practice. He punctuated each of his half-dozen touchdown catches with leaping spikes and dunks of the ball as teammates roared. At times WR Chris Matthews held the ball for Graham to dunk over the goal post built into the netting beyond the indoor field’s end zone. “That’s what I do,” said Graham, for whom the league recently instituted a rule prohibiting celebratory dunks over the goal posts in games. At first defenders, chiefly noted woofer CB Richard Sherman, howled over Graham’s showmanship. But soon even the defense that couldn’t cover Graham most of the practice was celebrating with the star TE. Second-year LB Kevin Pierre-Louis intercepted a pass off the hands of rookie free-agent WR Deshon Foxx and ran the other way for a defensive “touchdown.” S Kam Chancellor then took the ball, leaped and spiked it like Graham was doing. …. All-Pro S Earl Thomas, recovering from surgery to repair a separated shoulder, put on his helmet and ran through some position drills, catching passes. That’s progress from last week when he watched all the drills. During offense-versus-defense scrimmage, Thomas stood on the sideline holding his helmet, obviously chafed and pacing anxiously like a caged tiger. … The grieving Avril was still absent from the voluntary drills. DE Michael Bennett and LB Bruce Irvin were absent again, miffed over money. RB Marshawn Lynch was away, as he almost always is during the offseason.