Whether Wilson was “worth it” according to conventional metrics, the Seahawks were going to find a way to get this deal done, either this season or next season.
As first reported by TheMMQB.com's Peter King, the Seahawks and quarterback Russell Wilson agreed on Friday morning to a four-year, $87.6 million contract extension. The deal reportedly contains a $31 million signing bonus and approximately $60 million in guaranteed money, a factor that was always a sticking point between the Seahawks and Wilson's negotiating team, led by agent Mark Rodgers.
Wilson wanted a higher percentage of guaranteed money than the usual NFL contract, and by these standards, he got it. Before this deal, Aaron Rodgers had the most guaranteed money of any player, with $54 million in the seven-year, $130.75 million deal he signed in April of 2013. The guaranteed portion of that deal made up 49.1% of Rodgers's contract, which is on the high side for larger NFL deals. If the early numbers are correct, Wilson is getting 68% of his deal guaranteed.
Whether Wilson was “worth it” according to conventional metrics, the Seahawks were going to find a way to get this deal done, either this season or next season. Wilson has helped to change the face of the franchise, a franchise that has built its offense around his dynamism and mobility to a greater degree every season, and that franchise knows that his gifts aren't easy to duplicate.
After being selected in the third round of the 2012 draft, Wilson had to beat out free agent acquisition Matt Flynn in his rookie season and did so decisively. He's started every game for the Seahawks since, helping the team to a Super Bowl XLIII victory and taking the team to within one play of a repeat in Super Bowl XLIX. Though his team's success has been based to a large degree on running back Marshawn Lynch and the NFL's best defense, Wilson has grown impressively as a quarterback over the last three seasons.
However, those who don't believe in Wilson's worth as a franchise quarterback will point to his counting stats: He ranks 18th in attempts (1,252), 18th in completions (794), 16th in passing yards (9,950) and 12th in passing touchdowns (72) since he came into the league in 2012. That's one side of the argument, but Wilson has also done what he's done with the highest pressure percentage of any quarterback over the last two seasons, and without a No. 1 receiver who can get separation from defenders on a consistent basis.
That changed this off-season when the Seahawks traded center Max Unger to the Saints for tight end Jimmy Graham, the first target Wilson has ever had who's capable of creating matchup nightmares on a play-to-play basis. Graham proved this in his very first OTA practice in June, when he torched his defensive teammates for five touchdowns in the red zone portion of practice.
“He’s an explosive player,” Wilson said after that practice. “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 off-season work all together and trying to build what we’re trying to do here.”
If there wasn't a deal by the start of Seahawks training camp, Wilson would have played the last year of his rookie contract with a base salary of $1.542 million. After the season, there could have been a deal, or the Seahawks could have placed the franchise tag on their quarterback at a considerable salary cap cost—up to $25 million, depending on the compensation structure for the league's top quarterbacks at the time.
As head coach Pete Carroll said in June about these negotiations, “I don’t care how long we keep working. Whatever it takes to do the right thing.”
And the Seahawks did the right thing—right before the deadline.
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