Russell Wilson said he remains optimistic and “hopeful.”
The Seattle Seahawks are ready to be patient. They are echoing the quarterback’s agent by saying they don’t feel any deadline in getting a new contract done by the start of training camp July 31. So, yes, those talks could go on as the games do this fall.
Michael Bennett and Bruce Irvin practiced after staying away for the spring’s voluntary workouts. Then Irvin said he wanted to be play for Seattle, not his hometown of Atlanta, next year and beyond.
Even Marshawn Lynch was on the field, albeit idled.
And — remarkably — coach Pete Carroll said Jesse Williams has a chance to compete in August for a spot on the roster. Three weeks ago, the third-year defensive tackle had his cancerous kidney removed.
That’s how Seattle ended its mandatory minicamp with its only practice the league allowed Thursday at the Virginia Mason Athletic Center.
Wilson confirmed that, yes, he did take out a rich insurance policy against injury for the 2015 season in the event the two-time Super Bowl QB ends up playing it under his $1.5 million base salary to end his rookie contract from 2012.
“That’s just being smart,” he said of the policy, shrugging his shoulders after practice. “If I do have to play this season (without signing-bonus cash from a new, long-term contract), that’s just being smart. That’s all that is, really. I think that’s the right thing to do.”
Wilson’s agent, Mark Rodgers, and Seahawks negotiators led by general manager John Schneider have been talking in earnest since February, but talks on an extension for 2016 and beyond remain stalled. Asked if he expected a new deal before the team begins training camp July 31, Wilson said, “Hopefully.”
So what message should fans be getting about him and his future with the Seahawks?
“I love the game of football. I love playing here. Hopefully it all works out,” Wilson said. “I just trust in it. As you guys know, I’m not going to go into great detail about that, at all. It’s a private matter.
“I’m grateful. To be able to play the quarterback position in the National Football League is the best job in the world.”
Wilson wouldn’t answer when asked if, in his mind, it’s the end of contract talks for the season if he doesn’t have a new deal by the start of training camp.
But Carroll did answer that. The coach said if the team and its quarterback haven’t come to an agreement by the start of camp, the Seahawks will be willing to stay at it, that it won’t be shelved until after the season.
“No, I don’t care how long we keep working,” Carroll said. “Whatever it takes, to do the right thing.
“I’m hopeful. That’s why we are working.”
Lynch was at the mandatory minicamp — no, he didn’t say, “I’m just here so I won’t get fined.”
But he could have. Being here saved the star running back a potential $70,000 ding. His biggest contribution during practice was mentoring understudy Christine Michael some in conversations.
Michael did some individual position drills then stayed out the rest of practice. Carroll said he had a tight hamstring.
Irvin spoke after practice and declared: “I want to be in Seattle.” That was different than “I’m going to be in Atlanta next season,” which is what he said to blacksportsonline.com while he was in his hometown last month.
“Obviously, my words got misinterpreted,” Irvin said Thursday. “(In) 2012, I had a lot of questions coming out in the draft. Pete and John, they stuck their neck out for me, taking me in the first round. Why wouldn’t I want to be here?
“I’m from Atlanta. My whole family is still in Atlanta. That’s every kid’s dream, playing for their home team. But right now, I’m in Seattle. And I love being in Seattle. And hopefully that’s for the rest of my career.”
When asked what message he got last month when the Seahawks decided not to exercise his $7.8 million contract option for next season, making this year his final one under contract with the team, Irvin said: “I got the message it’s a business. It is what it is. That don’t change my mindset. I’m still going to go out here and have the best season I’ve had so far. I can’t do nothing about what they are doing upstairs. All that will take care of itself.”
Irvin admitted the decision has given him new motivation for the 2015 season.
“I got a little complacent,” he said. “And I feel that really put a chip on my shoulder that I go out here and handle my business.”
Irvin said when he met this spring with Schneider, the GM told him the team wants Irvin to play for it for many years beyond this one.
“John is a man of his word,” Irvin said. “And so am I.”
Carroll said Williams is in “recovery mode” trying to get back to football shape following the surgery to remove his kidney followed a diagnosis last month of papillary type 2 cancer.
“It’s just a matter of how soon he can get strong and what kind of level of conditioning can he achieve and then we’re going to reassess. But the doctors have said that it’s safe for him to come back and play football,” Carroll said.
“Now he just has to go through the rehab and fully recover and put himself in a position where he can have a chance to make the team, so we’re rooting for him every bit of the way. It’s been an extraordinarily difficult time for him and his family to have to deal with such a young man dealing with issues like this, but he’s got great support and he’s a wonderful kid and he’s got a great attitude about it, and I would think if a guy can come back from it, he will do that. So we’re giving him every opportunity.”
Asked what concerns he may have about having a player competing with one kidney, Carroll said: “Well, I know only what the doctors tell me. I don’t know what that would be like. But the doctors say that he’s cleared, so ...”