When Russell Wilson signed his mega-contract extension two years ago, the Seahawks and their franchise quarterback knew that while $87.6 million was team-record cash and second in the league among QB salaries it would eventually get surpassed in an ever-rising market.
That was justified Friday morning in Oakland.
The Raiders and Derek Carr agreed on new deal that Vic Tafur of the San Francisco Chronicle reported is worth $25 million per season over five years.
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That $25 million in average value surpasses Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck. It makes the 26-year-old Carr the league’s highest-paid player at any position, in terms of annual contract value. Carr’s new jackpot is worth $3.1 million more per year than Wilson’s contract with Seattle that ends after the 2019 season.
This, despite the fact Carr has yet to play in even a playoff game let alone a Super Bowl. Wilson, 28, has started two of those title games and won one. That Super Bowl win was at the end of the 2013 season, his second in the league.
Like Wilson did in 2015, Carr got his mammoth extension on the eve of beginning the final season on his rookie contract.
With league revenues continuing to soar, the NFL’s salary cap has gone from $143.3 million per team the year Wilson got his money to $167 million per team in 2017. That’s $24 million per season more that teams have to spend on franchise quarterbacks than Seattle had to spend on Wilson.
When Wilson signed his extension (it included $31.7 million guaranteed and signing and $61,542,000 in total guarantees) in July 2015, it made him second in the league in annual contract value to Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers’ $22 million per year.
Less than two years later, Wilson is now with Carr’s new deal seventh among NFL quarterbacks in average contract value per year. Below is the result of the market escalation the Seahawks and Wilson’s agent, Mark Rodgers anticipated -- and for which they negotiated:
1. Derek Carr, Raiders, $25 million per year on deal agreed to Friday. Zero career playoff starts.
2. Andrew Luck, Colts, $24,594,000 per year on deal signed in June 2016. Six career playoff starts.
3. Drew Brees, Saints, $24,250,000 per year on deal signed in September 2016. 11 career playoff starts.
4. Kirk Cousins, Redskins, $23,943,600 per year after Washington put franchise tag on him in February 2017. 1 career playoff start.
5. Joe Flacco, Ravens, $22,133,333 per year on deal signed in March 2016. 15 career playoff starts.
6. Aaron Rodgers, Packers, $22 million per year on deal signed in April 2013. 16 career playoff starts.
7. Russell Wilson, Seahawks, $21.9 million per year on deal signed in July 2015. 12 career playoff starts.
The top five QB deals have all gone done in the two years since Wilson signed his. Three of the top four QB contracts, excluding the veteran Brees’, have gone to guys who have combined for seven postseason starts -- five fewer than Wilson has by himself in five NFL seasons.
This inevitable market escalation is why Rodgers and Wilson insisted on limiting his Seahawks extension to four years. The team wanted five, a term for which Seattle could have spread the accounting of Wilson’s money in a more cap-friendly way. That is, over more years.
Rodgers dug in and insisted on just four years. That was so Wilson could become a free agent again in 2020 at age 30, still young enough and presumably elite enough to command a contract at the top of that escalated market.
“(This) 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,” Rodgers said two years ago, that summer day at the start of training camp that he got Wilson’s deal done. “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 the day he re-signed with Seattle: “Pretty cool.”
No matter what’s happened around the league with QB contracts since.