Simmering below the daily dyspepsia over the unsettled Russell Wilson contract situation, the Seahawks have another key player needing to be locked up for the future.
Middle linebacker Bobby Wagner earned the recognition he deserved, being named All-Pro in 2014.
Another bargain, he’s playing for less than $1 million this season. And, like the higher profile Wilson, he’s eligible to have his rookie contract extended in this, the final season of its term.
It might take somewhere near $10 million a season to get the Wagner deal done, but it will be less complicated than the Wilson negotiations, and could get done soon.
It would mean the Seahawks successfully locked up the young core of their defense, which has been the best in the league.
All-Pro cornerback Richard Sherman spent considerable time last season lobbying for Wagner’s inclusion on the All-Pro team. Sherman enjoys offering his opinion on a number of topics, so he didn’t need to repeatedly, specifically, stress how meaningful Wagner was to the Seahawks.
Asked at the organized training activity on Tuesday if he’s now serving as Wagner’s agent — after his experience as his press agent — Sherman kidded that, yes, they were in negotiations.
“He obviously deserves (an extension), as does Russell,” Sherman said. “You want everybody to get paid what they deserve, guys who worked hard and done their jobs, played at a high level, and battled through injuries. You appreciate guys getting what they deserve.”
“Deserve” is not always the deciding factor in contract negotiations.
The salary cap doesn’t allow every deserving player to be paid his value. A certain portion of contributors on every roster need to be cheap labor still on their rookie deal.
As middle linebacker, Wagner might be in a position the Seahawks might not regard as one deserving elite-level money.
David Hawthorne, for instance, had more than 100 tackles three straight years but got a better offer from New Orleans and was allowed to leave as a free agent after the 2011 season.
Certainly, Wagner’s value was proven emphatically last season. He missed 5½ games because of a toe injury, and in those games the Hawks were 3-3. Opponents rushed for more than 100 yards in four of those six games.
In the games he played, the Hawks were 9-1, and opponents broke 100 yards rushing only twice.
Because these things are interconnected, it’s possible the demands of Wilson’s contract could affect a decision on Wagner.
Fans and media are always quick to offer overly simplistic mandates regarding their favorite players. Just pay him … he’s earned it. But the long-term view from the front office demands adhering to principles and balancing the roster.
All that is easier to say when you’re talking about a middle linebacker.
A quarterback like Wilson makes things trickier. Nobody allows a quarterback who is considered the heart and face of the franchise go … not while healthy and in his prime.
Wilson is even rarer than that, having taken the Hawks to two Super Bowls — winning one — while still so young and, presumably, still well short of the prime of his career.
He might end up being in this negotiating spot with the franchise a couple more times.
The Seahawks have been lucky for a couple seasons, having so many Pro Bowl-caliber players on rookie contracts. They’ve had to get smarter as those players age toward free agency.
In no world is the value of a middle linebacker comparable to a young Super Bowl quarterback still on the rise. So, we dither daily over hints and suspicious regarding Wilson’s contract status.
But getting Wagner locked up will nonetheless keep the Seahawks being the best at what they do best. Stopping other teams from scoring.