Failing to extend Russell Wilson now may have led the Seahawks down a road that would eventually end in divorce and the NFL’s dreaded quarterback wilderness.
Some time close to midnight Pacific time Tuesday, logic prevailed.
That’s the first-blush reaction to what ultimately happened when the Seattle Seahawks and Russell Wilson agreed to record-breaking four-year, $140 million extension right before the quarterback’s deadline for a new deal passed.
According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, Wilson would have tabled negotiations for at least the remainder of the year had there been no agreement by that point. It would have set the stage for Wilson to play out the final season of his current contract, then go year-to-year on the franchise tag. At the very least, it would have created a messy and awkward dynamic between the team and the face of the franchise if and until the two sides could come to an agreement, which would be anything but a slam dunk once the tags got involved (see: Cousins, Kirk).
At worst, it would have been the first step toward an eventual divorce — be it by a trade or by Wilson signing elsewhere in 2022 or ’23.
Either way, no one would have really won, at least not in the short term.
As Seahawks general manager John Schneider and contract negotiator Matt Thomas met with Wilson’s agent, Mark Rodgers, over the past four days, each side surely tried to project a willingness to go the franchise-tag route. To both parties, that represented the final alternative option to whatever offers that were extended or rejected.
For Wilson, that could have eventually gotten him unrestricted free agency. But he would have had to play for at least three and perhaps four seasons without any long-term certainty in a sport where career-altering injuries are an ever-present threat.
For the Seahawks, they could have had Wilson for manageable sums of cash over the next three seasons if he were to play out his final contract year and then get consecutive tags. But the price would have skyrocketed to upward of $54 million in 2022, and the inability to spread out the cap charges in any of the tag seasons would have made it harder than it already will be to extend All-Pro middle linebacker Bobby Wagner and/or Frank Clark, the team’s best pass-rusher.
Had the deadline passed without a new deal, the Seahawks would have had plenty of time to continue negotiating with Wilson once he was ready to resume talks. But there’s no guarantee they would have been able to get it done with hard feelings involved.
Can you imagine the Seahawks without Wilson? They’ve been there and it wasn’t pleasant. Parting ways would have forced them back into the quarterback wilderness they once wandered through with guys such as Charlie Whitehurst, Tarvaris Jackson and Matt Flynn.
Last season’s 10-6 record and playoff berth showed that a team with an elite quarterback can never be ruled out no matter how many key pieces it loses around him. The Seahawks won’t have to revisit what life is like without one anytime soon now that Wilson is under contract through the 2023 season.
Wilson was present for the start of the team’s voluntary offseason workout program Monday. That was confirmed in a picture on the Seahawks’ website showing him next to teammate Jarran Reed. The wide smile on Wilson’s face belied the uncertainty over what would happen as his contract deadline drew nearer.
Now all involved have a reason to smile.