Time to dial back the rhetoric around the Seahawks’ negotiations on a contract extension for their franchise quarterback.
General manager John Schneider was far less expansive or pointed Wednesday talking about Russell Wilson getting a new deal beyond his rookie one he’s outplayed as a 2012 third-round draft pick. Less expansive, that is, than the GM was on the radio last week.
The 26-year old Wilson has become the only NFL QB to ever start two Super Bowls in his first three seasons. He is coming up on the final season of his four-year rookie contract. The team wants to extend it for far more than the $1.5 million he is due to earn in 2015. Talks have been going on with the team and Wilson’s agent, Mark Rodgers, for months.
“I’m not going to get into specifics on Russell’s situation,” Schneider said Wednesday, “other than to say we all love Russell and we want him to be our quarterback for a long time.”
Asked by The News Tribune if he felt that feeling was mutual from Wilson and his camp, the Seahawks’ GM said: “I do, yeah.”
“Can I ask you if it is stickier than you thought it might be?” Schneider was queried.
“No,” he responded, “you can’t.”
In February at the scouting combine in Indianapolis Schneider characterized the negotiations as “amicable.” This week, Wilson raised some eyebrows appearing on HBO television’s “Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel” when he said: “I may push the envelope a little bit one of these days. That’s why the Texas Rangers got my rights (by selecting Wilson a couple years ago in baseball’s minor-league free-agent draft). They want me to play. Jon Daniels, the GM, wants me to play. We were talking about it the other day.”
Take that for what it may or may not be worth. Some around Seattle took it as leverage for his talks with the Seahawks.
But last weekend Daniels told Dallas-area reporters the Rangers intend to stay out of Wilson’s athletic career.
“Russell has the competitiveness and work ethic to where he’d have a shot if he committed to baseball,” Texas’ GM said. “Obviously, he’s got a pretty good thing going on with the Seahawks and we’re not going to get in the way of that. Playing quarterback is more intensive than the positions of other guys who have attempted to play both sports.”
On Wednesday, Wilson was on ESPN Radio. When asked about his baseball comments, he chuckled.
“I didn’t say I was going to leave the NFL,” Wilson said. “Obviously, I love playing the game of football. It’s been something that is a tremendous thing, obviously, to be one of 32 men in the world to get to do what I do. It’s a special, special thing …
“Baseball, you know, has been something that’s been my first love, something that I’ve played since I was 3 years old. It’s something that’s meant a lot to me. It was my dad’s dream for me to play two sports (which he did while in college at North Carolina State). So I’ve never killed the dream. I probably never will. It’s something I think about all the time.”
Last week, Schneider raised curiosity when he said on Seattle’s KIRO FM radio: “We have a track record of rewarding our players that we recognize as core players. Every negotiation is unique in and of itself, and this is no different. He’s our quarterback. We’d love him to be our quarterback. But the thing is, we need to keep as many of these guys together as we possibly can.”
Schneider last week brought up his five-year-old Seahawks regime’s history of making tough decisions, including letting defensive end Cory Redding and wide receiver Nate Burleson walk at the end of their contracts.
“They were two guys that we had a lot of respect for, but where we were on our cap at the time, we had to make decisions,” he said. “We’re back in a world with a salary cap and we need to be cognizant of that.
“We have to be able to protect ourselves as we go and make smart decisions in trying to keep this whole thing together as long as we possibly can.”
It’s surprising how public this has become. Expect a return to a more no-comment, behind-the-scenes approach until Wilson’s new deal is done.
Rodgers, for his part, has stayed in that mode publicly throughout.
On April 30 the NFL draft’s first round will begin — and presumably end — with Seattle not having a selection. The team traded the 31st-overall pick to New Orleans last month along with center Max Unger to acquire star tight end Jimmy Graham.
The Seahawks also got the Saints’ fourth-round pick, part of Seattle’s NFL-leading haul of 11 selections in this draft.
“Gives us a lot of flexibility,” Schneider said.
Graham is at team headquarters this week participating in voluntary weight-lifting sessions. Thanks to him, the GM isn’t regretting his Seahawks not having a first-round choice for the third consecutive draft.
“When you acquire a player of Jimmy’s caliber with the 31st pick that makes it that much easier to sleep at night knowing that we wouldn’t be able to get a player like that,” Schneider said.
Is there an increased need to acquire offensive linemen to replace Unger and departed starting LG James Carpenter, at least, before the games get real Sept. 13? “Sure, I think I’d be lying to you if I told you any different,” Schneider said. “But (that) doesn’t mean that we need to go hog wild doing something, either. We are going to continue addressing it as we go. It could be the draft. It could be a cap casualty in the summer. It could be someone who was just waived. It could be a trade yet. We’ll never stop evaluating every position.” … The team has a May 3 deadline to pick up the 2016 contract option on pass rusher Bruce Irvin. Schneider said the team hasn’t made a decision yet. It would be a surprise if the Seahawks did not exercise that option for $7.75 million. Irvin is set to earn $1,663,935 in 2015, the final, base year of his rookie contract … Schneider said the Seahawks “absolutely” still want to re-sign backup QB Tarvaris Jackson. The unrestricted free agent has visited Miami, among other teams.