It’s done. It’s rich. It’s got the hefty guarantees he’d sought since talks began in earnest five months ago.
No wonder Russell Wilson was hugging his girlfriend Ciara then pumping his fists to thousands of roaring, adoring fans immediately following Friday’s first practice of Seahawks’ training camp.
And the deal may leave enough flexibility for the team to take care of Bobby Wagner and perhaps others, too.
The defending two-time NFC champions signed their franchise quarterback to a $87.6 million, four-year contract extension on a sunny-all-over day. The deal includes what agent Mark Rodgers says is $31.7 million guaranteed up front. That includes $11 million in a deferred payment in April plus a renegotiated 2015 base salary of $700,000 fully guaranteed. Wilson also gets $29 million more in future guarantees as long as the Super Bowl QB stays healthy.
The average of $21.9 million per year from 2016-19 is second-highest in the league behind the $22 million for Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
“Pretty cool,” Wilson said Friday. “I never really doubted it was going to happen.
“I just want to be paid based on what I’m worth,” the first quarterback to start two Super Bowls in his first three NFL seasons said. “Let the play speak for itself.
“I'm happy to be a Seahawk. I wouldn't want to be anywhere else. It's a blessing to be here on a championship-type team. ... The thing is, the train doesn’t stop now. There’s still a lot we have to do.”
From the start of the seemingly endless talks this deal was all about guaranteed money, and not just future guarantees but money due to Wilson at and soon after signing. Guaranteed money is king in the NFL, which unlike Major League Baseball or pro basketball lacks fully guaranteed contracts and thus leaves all but an elite few football players living an almost year-to-year existance. Wilson gets $60 million in present and future guarantees with $31.7 million guaranteed at signing.
That’s more than the $31 million Pittsburgh’s Ben Roethlisberger signed this spring, then the second-most up-front guaranteed in the league. Rodgers got $54 million guaranteed at signing from the Packers in April 2013.
Rodgers told The News Tribune part of the reason for the “split” signing bonus is to Wilson’s tax benefit.
The deferred payment and renegotiation of Wilson’s previous $1.54 million in base pay for this year down to the $700,000 guaranteed is also to the Seahawks’ benefit. It leaves them with just over $4 million in available space under this year’s salary cap. That could come in handly in their ongoing negotiations with Bobby Wagner. The All-Pro linebacker’s rookie contract ends after this season, just as Wilson’s does.
Coach Pete Carroll strongly hinted the team could re-sign Wagner, too, before the regular season begins Sept. 13.
“We’re on it,” Carroll said of negotiations with Wagner’s agent that started weeks ago. “We’re not done.”
Rodgers confirmed Wilson’s guaranteed numbers following Seattle’s first practice of training camp, on a day the agent said was indeed a real deadline to get an agreement because Wilson was “adamant” he didn’t want negotiations to go on into the preseason and regular season.
“Mission accomplished with the deadline,” Rodgers said.
Wilson learned of the agreement while sitting in bed talking on the phone to Ciara at 11 p.m. Thursday -- “one of the coolest days of my life,” he said. He signed it before 7 a.m. today at the team’s headquarters in Renton.
Rogers confirmed the deal’s total value is $87.6 million. Not at all bad for a supposedly too-short, third-round draft choice out of Wisconsin who arrived in Seahawks’ minicamp in the spring of 2012 as the team’s third-string passer.
Noticeably, Wilson’s signing bonus is $1.7 million more in 2015 cash than Cam Newton got this spring from Caroling. That deal for the first overall draft pick in 2011 was considered to be the floor for a deal for the far-more-accomplished Seahawks quarterback. Rodgers, though, said surpassing Newton’s deal was not the goal.
So, yes, Wilson got (almost all) he sought.
The deal came to light about three hours came amid widespread doubt it would get done. But a person with direct knowledge of the negotiations had been telling The News Tribune the talks were not nearly as acrimonious and the sides were not nearly as far apart as was being portrayed.
But Rodgers said both sides came a long way to reach a middle ground during intense negotiations Monday through Thursday. Each side, the agent said, left feeling they didn’t get everything they wanted. Rodgers called that “the art of compromise.”
In the end, the Seahawks got their man done. And Wilson got his guaranteed cash.
The Seahawks also have a brewing contract issue with strong safety Kam Chancellor, who was the only player who did not report to training camp on time Thursday and skipped Friday’s practice because he wants more money. He still has three years left on his deal that is paying him $4.45 million in guaranteed base pay this year. The Seahawks can fine Chancellor a maximum of $30,000 per day until he arrives. Carroll said he respects Chancellor’s stance and called him the ultimate Seahawk, adding the team is working to get its leader in camp as soon as possible.