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Status quo: Russell Wilson at team HQ to start offseason work as Seahawks, agent continue talks

As he always is, quarterback Russell Wilson was with his teammates at Seahawks headquarters Monday for the start of official offseason workouts. The team and its franchise man were continuing to work on a contract extension beyond the 2019 season.
As he always is, quarterback Russell Wilson was with his teammates at Seahawks headquarters Monday for the start of official offseason workouts. The team and its franchise man were continuing to work on a contract extension beyond the 2019 season.

No need to freak out. Status remains quo.

Russell Wilson was where he always is on the first day of Seahawks official offseason workouts: with his teammates at their Virginia Mason Athletic Center headquarters in Renton, lifting weights and doing conditioning drills permitted by the NFL in its first phase of offseason drills.

The team confirmed Wilson was present, as expected, with a photo of the quarterback among a gallery posted on its website Monday afternoon.

Meanwhile, his agent Mark Rodgers was continuing negotiations with Seahawks general manager John Schneider and Matt Thomas, the team’s vice president and top contract numbers man, on a long-term contract for Wilson. Wilson’s current deal paying him $17 million this year (12th-most in among QBs in the league) ends after the 2019 season.

Wilson, 30, reportedly set a deadline of the end of the day, presumably as in, 11:59 p.m. Monday, to get a new deal done.

A league source told The News Tribune earlier this month that April 15 deadline was Wilson’s way to spur more progress on talks that had mostly been stagnant since January. In that regard, the deadline worked. Rodgers has been negotiating with Schneider consistently since Friday, with both men reported to be meeting inside team headquarters since that day.

What if there is no deal by midnight Monday?

Peter King of NBC Sports wrote for his weekly Football Morning in America column a league source told him Wilson is likely seeking an unprecedented escalator clause in his contract tied to annual increases in the league’s salary cap into the 2020s.

That first-of-its-kind clause would be to ensure Wilson doesn’t go from the highest-paid QB to, say, eighth in the league in a couple years. That would be as the cap keeps rising, the league gets new revenues from upcoming renewals of television contracts and possibly legalized sports betting, and young stars such as Kansas City’s Patrick Mahomes get new deals in the near future.

King also wrote of the Monday deadline: “My source says they’ve told GM John Schneider it has to be done now, or not at all.”

King elaborated on Seattle’s KJR-AM radio Monday afternoon he was told by his source Wilson and his agent have informed the Seahawks “this is our last negotiating window on a long-term deal. If we don’t get something done we will go year to year.”

That presumably would mean Wilson would not sign any long-term offer from Seattle after Monday night, that he would play out his contract this year, then sign the franchise tag the Seahawks would almost certainly give him to keep him from leaving in free agency in 2020, again in lieu of a long-term deal.

Wilson said two days after the Seahawks’ past season ended with the playoff loss at Dallas Jan. 5 he would be willing to play out his contract to its end through the 2019 season without a new deal.

“Oh, yeah, I mean, if that’s what I’ve got to do,” he said Jan. 7. “It’s business, and everything else.

“I know, essentially after this (coming) season I could essentially be a free agent, and that kind of thing. I don’t think that way. I see myself being in Seattle, and I love Seattle. It’s a special place for me.

“I also understand it’s a business world, and everything else.”

Quarterback Russell Wilson talks about the Seahawks’ 2018 playoff season—and believing they could have thrown more and earlier in loss at Dallas

As CBS Sports’ Joel Corry, a former agent, has outlined, the exclusive franchise-tag cost, the version cornerstone quarterbacks get, is expected to be $31,211,000 next year. Then, based on the league-mandated 120-percent tag increase the following year, it would be $37.45 million in 2021. That’s if the Seahawks wanted to go the tag route again to keep Wilson another year without a long-term agreement.

That’s $68.65 million guaranteed the next two years.

Looking for a starting estimate on what Wilson’s agent is likely asking for in average salary for a multiyear extension? Start with $34,325,000. That’s the average of what Wilson would get with the alternative of signing nothing and getting consecutive franchise tags.

But all that’s assuming the rules of the current CBA stay the same in the new labor agreement. That’s a huge, unsubstantiated assumption.

No one, including Schneider and the Seahawks, know exactly what the new CBA’s rules will be. Or if there even will be a franchise tag in the NFL beyond 2020.

Schneider said at the league’s scouting combine six weeks ago he was meeting with the owner’s executive council to learn more about where talks on a new CBA with the players’ union may go.

“That’s definitely a factor,” in negotiations for Wilson’s and other Seahawks’ long-term contracts.

Asked if the tag might go away in the new CBA, Schneider said six weeks ago: “I have no idea. No idea.”

So you can see why Wilson’s new deal is more complicated than it simply happening already. Those devilish details made Wilson’s Monday deadline, in practical application, more a goal than an ultimatum.

Seahawks general manager John Schneider talks contracts, prospects, Russell Wilson, Frank Clark and more at the NFL combine in indianapolis.

Nothing.

Everything stays the same.

Wilson will be Seattle’s quarterback for 2019.

The team is not going to trade their franchise cornerstone.

Coach Pete Carroll and Schneider have staked their Seahawks careers and legacies on Wilson since he won them the Northwest’s only Super Bowl title in February 2014. They are not going to trade the winningest QB in NFL history over the first seven seasons of a career, when Wilson is still in the prime of his career at age 30. Not when the Seahawks are still primed for returning to the playoffs for the seventh time in eight years this coming season. Not when they could keep him for 2020 and perhaps longer even without an agreement on a new deal, with the franchise tag.

Wilson most likely would leave as a free agent at the end of franchise tags, or Seattle would have a new coach and GM, before that would happen.

Plus, it would take a principled, new-kind-of-stubborn stance that would damage his team’s ability to win—and thus run counter to everything Wilson has said and done in his seven seasons as Seattle’s starter since week one as a rookie in 2012—if anytime after Monday the Seahawks were to offer him every dollar and escalator clause he wants yet he refused to talk let alone sign, all because it was after his April 15 deadline.

In the meantime, rumors fly. The Seahawks try to work Wilson’s demands within their plans to extend All-Pro linebacker Bobby Wagner after his contract ends following 2019. They seek resolution on negotiations on an extension for top pass rusher Frank Clark beyond the franchise tag they gave him last month for 2019.

And Wilson works out, as always, with his teammates at team headquarters as Seattle’s franchise quarterback.

Amid all the noise and posturing and leveraging and innuendo, status quo.

RFAs, ERFAs signed

The Seahawks announced they signed restricted free agents George Fant, an offensive tackle, and defensive lineman Quinton Jefferson.


The team also signed nine exclusive-rights free agents: linebackers Austin Calitro and Emmanuel Ellerbee, center Joey Hunt, defensive end Branden Jackson, safety Shalom Luani, running back J.D. McKissic, long-snapper Tyler Ott, defensive back Kalan Reed and guard Jordan Simmons.

Gregg Bell is the Seahawks and NFL writer for The News Tribune. In January 2019 he was named the Washington state sportswriter of the year by the National Sports Media Association. He started covering the NFL in 2002 as the Oakland Raiders beat writer for The Sacramento Bee. The Ohio native began covering the Seahawks in their first Super Bowl season of 2005. In a prior life he graduated from West Point and served as a tactical intelligence officer in the U.S. Army, so he may ask you to drop and give him 10.


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