Russell Wilson says he hopes to sign a new contract that will keep him with the 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.”
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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 on Tuesday declared, “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 Class-A ball while in college). It’s like deja 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 can 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 on Thursday 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 already.
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 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 already. And he is 4-0 against Newton in his career, including January’s win over Carolina in the NFC divisional playoffs.
Graham was dynamic, almost wowing, 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 guys who couldn’t cover Graham most of the practice was celebrating with the star tight end.
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.
After practice a media member (no, not me), asked Graham if he was concerned about his blocking, widely perceived as his weakness.
"I'm 270 pounds. I can block anyone I want to," Graham said.
"I could show you. You want to go right now?"
The questioner wisely declined.
THOMAS' INCREMENTAL PROGRESS
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 sidelines 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.
With Bennett, Avril and Irvin absent, Ryan Robinson and Cassius Marsh were the first-team defensive ends. Robinson played 11 games for Oakland in 2013 as a rookie, then spent last season on Seattle's practice squad.
--Offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell confirmed former third-string quarterback B.J. Daniels is pretty much a full-time wide receiver now. So much so, Daniels is only wearing a blue practice jersey as an offensive player instead of the red quarterbacks wear. The Seahawks have just two QBs, Wilson and former arena-league passer R.J. Archer, who is getting long looks and praise from coaches. Bevell said the team will seek to bring more passers in before training camp, but that he is fine going with just two arms for now.
--Rookie Mark Glowinski, drafted as a guard from West Virginia, got a lot of snaps at right tackle.
--RB Christine Michael didn't take part in the team scrimmaging after doing individual drills. Asked what the offense and coaches need to see at this point from Michael, who is getting first-team reps with Lynch away, Bevell said: "Doing the right things all the time." So consistency remains Michael's issue.
--This is what else Wilson did today, with his, um, friend Ciara:
Here is more of what Wilson had to say today:
And in transcript form, in its entirety:
Russell Wilson, June 2 OTAs:
What is it like having Jimmy here?
“Jimmy looks great as you saw today. He’s an unbelievable talent and it’s great to have him. He’s a great added addition to what we already have. We’ve gone to two Super Bowls in three years and we’ve had a lot of great players and we’ve had a lot of guys who have made a lot of great plays and to add him is something special.”
Off the field, what does Jimmy bring?
“First of all as I said he’s a great player, but he’s a better person. He really cares for people. He’s a loyal guy and we’ve gotten to know that over the past two months. We were able to go down to Maui area and have a great time and that was our first interaction really with him, and pretty much half the team being down there for the most part with him and he was just unbelievable, fit right in, so him and Luke and Cooper and Anthony, that tight end group, and RaShaun are fitting right in. All those guys we’re grateful to have them. We’re brothers and we care for one another and we want to keep that going.”
What did it mean to go to Miami and be with Jimmy for funeral?
“it was a personal matter. It was one of those things, it was an emotional week first of all. Going to Jimmy’s situation and then Cliff’s and then I had a graduation to speak (at) and those two different parallels we’re kind of an emotional week. Just to be there for Jimmy. He’s a guy that’s been through a lot, he a guy that loves people deeply when he trusts them, and Tammy was an unbelievable lady. So many people there for her and Jimmy was a son to her. Just to spend time with Jimmy, spend quality time, get away from football and all that stuff and spend one-on-one time with him meant a lot, to me personally just to spend time with him. Hopefully it meant a lot to him as well.”
What could his size give you guys this year?
“He’s an explosive player. When you have the receivers that we have, the good receivers that we have and you add Jimmy and the other tight ends as well, and then you have the running backs, it’s kind of hard to figure out where to go. It’s going to be exciting to see what we can do. I’m looking forward to it. A lot of work. The timing is great. I’ll say that, the timing is right where we want it to be with all the guys honestly. We’re just growing. A lot of it has been the offseason work all together and trying to build what we’re trying to do here.”
About rookie WR Tyler Lockett:
“Tyler Lockett looks really quick. For a guy who’s coming in here as a rookie and hasn’t been here for very long he understands the game unbelievably well. He understands the plays, gets in there, knows his stuff and if he doesn’t know he’ll ask lots of questions. That’s what you want. He looks great at punt returner too and that’s going to be an exciting part for him too. I’m excited about it.”
What's up in your contract talks?
“I’m focused on football. I’m going to be the boring, cliche answer, but it’s the truth. Ultimately I believe it will work out, hope that it does. I just take one day at a time. It’s a private matter. I don’t’ really talk about that kind of stuff. I’m here to play football and he’s there to work out deals and figure out things. My focus is on football and trying to win football games for us.”
How much do you stay involved in negotiations?
"I'm definitely the type to know what's going on, so I'm definitely there. But like I said I don't talk much about it, and I believe it's going to work out if it's supposed to."
Would you feel comfortable entering season without a new deal?
"Yeah, I'm prepared for that 100 percent, if that's the case. 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. I love the game, and I love being out here with these guys and just playing and so ultimately I just take it one day at a time and just see where it takes me."
Some people think you're subtweeting the Seahawks. Are you subtweeting the Seahawks?
"Yeah, that's reading too much into it."
Are you paying attention to how much people are talking about it?
"Well, you know hopefully that's a good thing. At least they want to talk about me, 'cause hopefully that means they want me. I don't know. Who knows? It's better than no talk, I guess. I don't really pay attention to it honestly. I really don't. I try to stay away from it. I can just try to continue to prepare and let my play speak for itself and just try to let things happen the way it's supposed to. That's kind of the only thing I can do."
Would you be disappointed if you entered the season without a new deal?
"I hope that it works, but like I said guys, I don't talk about it. It's just one of those things. And I'll always be this way, so for the next 10, 15 years I'll probably be this boring when it comes to this kind of stuff, you know? So I'm sorry about that, but ultimately it's about coming out here and winning games and trying to be prepared for that, and that's all my focus really has been. I was down in San Diego training for three months and just trying to get ready with my trainer Ryan Flaherty. That's kind of been my sole focus for the most part. And trying to be a better person, too, and trying to be a better teammate, and just try to be there as much as I can and just continue to grow, you know? It's a maturation process every day, and if I take a day of rest that's not good enough for me in terms of just trying to continue to grow as a football player, and as a person an all those things. So that's where I'm looking."
What was your training philosophy?
"I was definitely doing a lot of leg work. Just trying to get my legs really strong and working on my speed more than anything. And then, working on my legs has really helped my arm strength too, as well. That's one of the things that I really always want to continue to work on, and my footwork. So those are the things that I've been kind of harping on for the most part."
Are you faster?
"I definitely think I'm faster, for sure. I don't know, I haven't really timed myself like that. But I definitely think I'm a couple clicks faster."
Are you bigger?
"I'm about 215, 216 right now, so I'm a couple pounds bigger, yeah."
You look bigger than you did in that movie no one wants to see.
"Ah, that was a year-and-a-half ago."
Are you nervous for your big-screen debut?
"I've seen it, so I'm not nervous, you know. I'm not nervous anymore about that. That'll be cool. I'm excited about, obviously, the Entourage thing and Doug Ellin and all that stuff that's going on; great friend. Some of us guys were able to see it here, and they showed it to us. That was cool. And they're big Seahawks fans, so they love the guys, they love the players, they love the fans, so they're all about the Seahawks, so that's cool."
Has there been anything about the contract process that's discouraged you?
"No. I just think that ultimately ... You know, I'm one of those guys that just believes in just trying to do your best, you know? And if it's meant to be, it's meant to be. So hopefully it's meant to be, and we'll just keep moving forward. I'm just grateful. I'm truly grateful just to be around the guys I'm around and the people I get to be around, and I love the city, you know. So it's been a special time for me, you know, so I'm just taking it one day at a time."
On Cam Newton and the $20-million-a-year average: “It’s a private matter. I’m not going to talk money, that’s one of those things, I’m not going to talk about anything like that. It’s between me and my lawyer, Mark Rodgers, and the Seahawks. Whenever it works out, I think everybody will know, find out, if that’s the case. It’s just one of those things. I’m honestly just trying to keep that close to my chest and just continue to work on playing football.”
On modeling after Drew Brees in terms of working with Jimmy Graham: “We have a very similar offense. They throw the ball more, obviously, and they’ve been playing, Drew and the Saints, I don’t know, it’s his 10th year, their offense is a little bit different, but in terms of the play schemes and all that, it’s very, very similar. I’ve watched Drew for — I have tons of respect for him, I’ve watched him since I was in high school and college, and really studied him. I was fortunate enough to see a lot of Jimmy because of that, and I have a lot of respect for the game that Jimmy has. His timing in just so on point, he’s very, very quick, and he understands the game, and so throwing to him is easy. We have other receivers and other tight ends that are very similar to that too as well, it helps. He’s a superstar, he’s going to be one for a long time, and my goal is to help him continue to grow. He looked great today,as you guys saw, and that’s how he looks every day, so it’s a spectacular thing.”
How does size change red zone offense?: “You guys saw in the Super Bowl with Chris (Matthews), he’s got great size, and obviously you guys know Jimmy does too, and Jermaine’s got a great catching range as well, and Doug Baldwin, he’s not the biggest guy in the world, but he’s got great jumping ability, and he’s as quick as can be. It’s a hard matchup I think for a lot of people, and then also you add in the added dimension of the running game too, it’s going to be very, very interesting to see how far we can go.”
How are you moving past Super Bowl: “I think, as you guys probably observed today, we’re just so closely knit, our team. All the players, the way we practice, nothing’s changed, and it’s not going to change, we’re not going to allow it to change in terms of our mindset. We have a championship mindset, and we’re focused on us and what we can do and how we can prepare, and we’re doing a great job of that right now. I think, spending time with each other has been so great. For me personally, as you asked, what I’ve done is I went down to San Diego, got away from everything, and just worked out every day pretty much. Had my personal trainer, had my mental coach down there, and we just got to work. It’s always about the basics. Every year’s a new year, and every opportunity’s a new opportunity. Whether you win the Super Bowl, don’t win it, whatever, the belief is to continue to do everything you can to prepare as a team and an individual to make sure you can have a great opportunity and a great chance of getting there again. So that’s our mindset, and that’s the ultimate goal.”
How important to get in touch with Jimmy: “As soon as we traded for Jimmy, I talked to Max first, actually, I was going to miss him. A guy that I got to play for my first three years and helped me tremendously, he is a phenomenal football player, and I also talked to Drew and told him just the kind of player that he’s going to get in Max, and the type of person as well. Then I got to talk to Jimmy right away. It was one of those things I knew that the connection was going to be very, very similar, very on point, where we wanted it to be. He’s a competitive person, just like I am, he wants the best for everybody, he’s a great team player, and he’s a guy that’s going to be determined to be the best to play the game. His mindset is always that way, it’s never going to change. Just spending time with him has been great. Besides football, take the football part out, we’ll figure out all that out and we’ll see how far we can go, and I think that will be a long ways, but the personal side, it’s been a great fit for him, and I think it’s been a great fit for us. The relationship and the bond that we already have — and going to Maui, I guess it was like a week or two after the trade, we got to spend a lot of quality time, everybody, together, offense and defense. That was crucial for everybody, and I think for him too especially to get to know familiar faces, and when he came in the locker room, it wasn’t the first time that he got to meet people. It was easy. It’s been easy so far, and we love having him, and we love his demeanor and what he’s about, so it’s going to be great.”
On how many guys went to Hawaii with him for player-led workouts in March...: “We probably had about 35 total, somewhere around there. So a good amount. It was a great experience. We brought all those families down, the wives and kids and girlfriends too. So that was cool and just had great family time. We worked out from eight to 1:30 every day and then you know being down in Maui is not bad. Not a bad vacation spot for everybody. Family vacation. So I wouldn’t say it was a couples retreat but it was a good moment, good time.’’
On if he is concerned at all with what his deal could mean for the team and its ability to stay competitive: “I’m not going to talk about this kind of stuff. I think that ultimately I’m just going to try to continue to do my work do my part and let the rest take care of itself.’’
Is there a different level of trust required to throw some of those fade routes to Graham, and is that the same kind of trust he had with Golden Tate off the field? “Yeah I mean he’s got an unbelievable catching range. When he wants to go up for it he can go up for it and as you guy saw today, a couple of times today just very physical to the football He does a tremendous job and he gets the game. Like I said, to add hi to our offenses and what we already have is exciting. To our football team as well as a whole, that’s what we wanted was a guy that is special.’’
On how important it would be for him to play a long time in a city such as Seattle: “That’s the ultimate thing that I’ve always wanted. Think it has to be the right situation, obviously. But I’ve always wanted to play in a city, especially like this It’s a place that I love and a place that’s meant a lot to me. I’ve moved around enough I feel like. Playing NC State and went to Wisconsin and that was a thing and then played baseball first and actually came out to Pasco, Washington so it was like déjà vu. And then I went back to NC State and had to transfer to Wisconsin a place I never imagined going, and it was just kind of a crazy whirlwind and it worked out tremendously. I always have confidence. No matter where I go I always believe that it’s going to work out no matter what the situation is. And I hope that it’s here and I hope that its here for a long time and hopefully I get to wear the Seahawks blue in Number three for a long time. But we’ll see what happens.’’