Why the Seahawks May Not Extend Russ but Still Keep Him in Seattle
Our star quarterback, Russell Wilson is currently under contract for two more seasons, typically the Seahawks front office look to extend core players a year early to arrange the cap hits a little better. More years always equals more cap flexibility, and all general managers love cap flexibility. So in theory, Russ should be in line for an extension after the 2018 season, right? Well maybe not… And it has nothing to do with them not wanting to keep Russ around moving forwards.
You may or may not be familiar with the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) so let me give you a brief run down of what it entails. The CBA is effectively the playbook for NFL GM’s, players, the league itself and everything in between. It outlines the rules that everyone must adhere to outside of actual game rules. It determines how and when players can be cut, minimum salaries for veterans, predetermined salaries for rookies and general roster and cap rules to name but a few things it covers.
As you can imagine, it’s quite wordy and contains 301 pages but if you’re interested in the intricacies of this league outside of the actual field, it’s very interesting and I guarantee you will learn a whole lot more about the NFL as a whole, I highly recommend it.
The current CBA was introduced in 2011. Older fans may remember the ‘lockout’ period and the uncertainty if there was even going to be an NFL season that year. Fortunately the lockout lasted 132 days and the only game that got cancelled was the Hall of Game preseason game. The main reason the holdout didn’t spill into the regular season is the NFLPA (who represent the player side in negotiations) were forced into a deal that was heavily favoured towards the league rather than the players due to players not preparing their financial situation correctly. Too many players could not afford to miss a whole seasons paycheck , which forced the NFLPA into an agreement they weren’t happy with.
That won’t happen this time around, the NFLPA has been actively encouraging players to start saving for an eventual holdout for nearly two years now and does a lot more ‘micro management’ with players in order to enable them to better manage their money. Make no mistake, the NFLPA is not going to back down this time, they are dead set on ‘winning’ the new CBA. This will very likely result in a total restructure of how the rookie wage system works as well as increasing minimum salaries for veterans. Those two are all but guaranteed in my opinion.
So what does all this actually mean in relation to Russ and his upcoming contract extension?
Firstly, the uncertainty of what the new rules in the CBA will be should be putting off GM’s from signing mega bucks extensions. There’s every chance there may be limits on player contracts per position. Imagine if Russ got extended to a 5-year $34M a year deal and the CBA imposed limits on QB contracts maxing them out at say $30M?
This is absolutely possible and not out of the realms of realistic.
While the NFLPA are fighting for the players, imposing a limit on per year contract values will benefit a lot more players than it will hinder. Sure, the top end guys may lose out on a few million but overall, low and middle range players are going to benefit hugely. It’s simply a case of ‘for the many, not the few’ as far as the NFLPA are concerned.
Another big subject that will likely be re-evaluated in the next CBA is guaranteed money. At present, any guaranteed money will count towards the cap whether the player is on the field or not. With the way QB contracts are going with more and more guaranteed money being included, it’s only a matter of time before one of these players suffers a career ending injury leaving the team in absolute salary cap hell. As an example, if Matt Ryan of the Falcons (who has just signed a huge contract extension) suffers a career ending injury in the 2019 season, the Falcons will still have him counting $31,800,000 against the cap in 2020 despite him being unable to play. That is exactly how a franchise gets crippled. It’s a scary thought and as I said, it’s only a matter of time before it happens.
So how could the CBA address this issue? Here are a couple of ideas –
You can designate one player on your team who is on IR/PUP to not count towards the cap.
You could agree that if a player is injured and unable to return, he still gets paid but he no longer counts towards the cap.
Similar to the above but only a portion counts towards the cap.
Those are just three ideas off the bat to combat the issue, but I’m sure the NFLPA is already brainstorming well in advance multiple different ways to create a win for the players within the league.
As I said, Russ is under contract until the end of the 2019 season so the way I see it, John Schneider and company have these options available to them –
- Extend Russell next offseason for 2 years, keeping him under contract for the 2019 and 2020 season (right before the new CBA is set to start).
- Don’t extend Russ at all and simply franchise tag him for the 2020 season, this will likely mean his cap number for the 2020 season will be $30,340,000.
For clarity, I am absolutely not in the ‘trade Russ’ or ‘don’t keep Russ long term’ gang. The whole notion is utterly ridiculous and I’m positive the vast majority that say this are simply begging for some attention. If the CBA was not due for renewal I’d want Russ locked up for as long as possible, at whatever cost is needed to get it done. As a fan, I do not want to go back to the days of somewhere between god awful and mediocre quarterback play. I want a quarterback that is always going to keep this franchise competitive and ‘in’ all games right until the last second. The NFCCG against Green Bay a few years ago is the very definition of this. Russ is everything I want in a quarterback, sure he could improve and get better in certain areas, but without a shadow of a doubt, I want Russ to retire a Seahawk and for nobody to ever wear #3 again, period.
I’d be absolutely fine with either a short-term extension or the tag in 2020, it simply gives the team the best flexibility whilst keeping our quarterback in town. Overall, I suspect the franchise tag would be the cheaper option over the two years rather than extending him.
I’m sure Seahawks fans around the world would be slightly disappointed if the team handed out a long-term contract to Russ only to discover they could have had him for the same length of time at a lower rate due to new CBA rules. I know I would.
Given he is the franchise QB for this team and very much loved by 99% of fans everywhere, there will be some hysteria next offseason if an extension doesn’t occur but please remember this article and don’t jump to any conclusions surrounding Russell’s future in Seattle, I promise you this front office will do what is best for the franchise, and unless another QB emerges as a star in the mean time, you will not be seeing Russ in another teams uniform on Sunday’s any time soon.
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