All the buzz about the Seahawks trading Russell Wilson is fun, I suppose, if you enjoy ridiculous fantasies. They all ignore some very basic facts.
It seems like every hour there’s another article extolling the compelling reasons Team A is the perfect trade partner to take Russell Wilson off the Seahawks hands. While they may be entertaining, they are all rooted in reality about as deeply as Shazam or Captain Marvel, depending on your comics allegiance. The Seahawks have no reason whatsoever to trade Russell Wilson.
Yes, there have been plenty of unnamed sources (and the occasional opposing cornerback) who have claimed they know Wilson wants to be in New York. I’ll take Wilson’s pronouncement that he wants to be in Seattle as having a bit more weight than random talk from people who just want to generate some buzz.
There are some key points that seem to be overlooked every time another article comes out about how the Giants are a great trade partner, or how any of the 10 teams listed here should go after Wilson. Let’s face it, there are just a handful of teams in the league that wouldn’t be better off with Wilson taking the snaps. So let’s have all 31 teams jump into the Russell Wilson pool.
The thing is, he’s under contract for 2019 and has made it abundantly clear that he’ll honor that contract. He even showed up for the first day of voluntary workouts today. Those are not exactly the actions of a player contemplating a holdout. He is totally onboard with his teammates, his coaches, and the organization. Russell Wilson is the anti-Earl Thomas, as it were.
If the deal isn’t signed by midnight tonight, reportedly there will be no long-term deal. I say reportedly, as that wasn’t stated by Wilson, his agent Mark Rodgers, nor the Seahawks. This is from another of those anonymous inside sources, of course. If it’s true, so what? Seattle will apply the franchise tag to Wilson for 2020, and then again for 2021. The expected cost for those seasons is just over $31 million and nearly $38 million in 2021.
If you haven’t heard, Wilson is reportedly asking for the top salary among all quarterbacks. That would put his salary above Aaron Rodgers, who currently has the top average salary at $33.5 million per year according to spotrac.com. The contract numbers for Wilson are expected to be at least $35 million per year, and more likely to be about $38 million. Clearly applying the franchise tag wouldn’t cost the Seahawks any more money than a new contract. The money from the franchise tag is guaranteed, but it’s believed that Wilson wants the first three years of his extension guaranteed anyway.
Any team trading for Wilson will have it tougher than the Seahawks
The real problem doesn’t show up until 2022 when it’s anticipated the franchise tag would be at least $52 million. Another major obstacle is the fact that the current collective bargaining agreement (or CBA) between the NFL and the Players Association, only runs through 2021. No one knows if there will even be a franchise rule allowed, or what the salary cap will be, or much of any specifics that make it helpful to negotiate a long-term contract.
The same difficulties the Seahawks are facing will be the very same obstacles any team would face in negotiating a deal with Wilson. They’ll be taking on a player in the final year of his contract, and have to decide whether they should apply a franchise tag or not. You may assume that Wilson and his agent would give his new team more time to negotiate a long-term deal, but I doubt they’d give them much of an extension. And certainly, any team that would give up what Seattle is asking for Wilson would absolutely have to lock him in for the long haul.
Frankly, I don’t know that Wilson is willing to sign a deal that extends past the current CBA. One of the supposed stumbling blocks is that his agent is asking for an escalation clause that would keep him as at least one of the highest-paid players, if not the highest-paid player in the league. This would eliminate the scenario that happened in his last contract. When he signed, he was the second-highest paid quarterback in the NFL. Now Wilson ranks 12th in average annual salary. For obvious reasons, he hopes to avoid a repeat of that inequity.
Any team that trades for Wilson will face all of these difficulties, with none of the goodwill built up over seven years with the organization that didn’t think he was too short to be an NFL quarterback. They’ll have the added pressure of having given up at least two first-round draft picks, the supposed minimum the Seahawks will accept. A trade simply makes zero sense.