The din of hysteria over the potential that Russell Wilson will eventually leave Seattle is reaching its offseason crescendo.
Yep, still June.
I'm going to open this article with the necessary reminder that this panic -- "Russell-Wilson-is-leaving-us-Threat-Level: Midnight"-- is mostly media-driven at this point (yes I know I'm part of it). Literally nothing of any substance has happened between the Seahawks and Russell Wilson since yesterday. Obviously, the lack of change is what worries some, but as we've said all along: deadlines spur action.
Either way, "Russell" was trending on twitter this morning. It's the doldrums of the offseason. We need something to talk about, obviously.
And, it's important. It's not like this is some inconsequential thing, but I'll continue to preach that patience is necessary here. The next deadline to keep in mind is late July when the Seahawks start training camp. Even then, Russell Wilson won't be going anywhere for the next year, or two years, almost certainly.
Still, the most recent round of Russell Wilson handwringing started up again yesterday when Bleacher Report's Jason Cole reported that Russell Wilson wants to be the highest-paid player in the NFL. This idea isn't necessarily anything new -- it's something I've expected may happen for some time -- but it sparked a whole new round of debate.
Per Cole's sources, Wilson and his agent Mark Rodgers are looking for a deal that surpasses Aaron Rodgers' five-year, $110 million contract. When Cole reached out to Mark Rodgers for comment, Wilson's agent did not dispute Cole's report but said that he wants Wilson's deal to be "relevant" -- and that he expects that in short order, Wilson's contract would no longer be the league's largest anyway, as Aaron Rodgers, Eli Manning, and Andrew Luck get new deals.
Cole's report was followed up this morning by one by Mike Florio, who took to Twitter to opine that his "current prediction" is that Russell Wilson will "playing for someone else in 2016." Florio's stance is that Seattle will look to save a couple-mil in 2016 by placing the non-exclusive franchise tag on him, and that "someone will sign him to an offer sheet they won't match." Florio added: "Only a prediction."
At nearly the exact same instant, Jason La Canfora published a column at CBS Sports that asserts a different scenario. JLC believes that the Seahawks would in fact use the exclusive franchise tag on Wilson if we get to 2016 with no new long-term extension. This would require that the Seahawks pay him a few more million that year (potentially $25 million or so), but would mean that no other teams could negotiate with Wilson or attempt to steal him away with a bigger, impossible to match offer.
Who's right? I don't know. It's my opinion that the Seahawks will not allow Wilson to leave Seattle without a long-term deal but no one really knows the true stances that Pete Carroll, John Schneider, and Russell Wilson will take.
Right now, says La Canfora, "the issues of guaranteed money, and those silly escrow rules, remain a massive hurdle to be overcome." Ok, that makes sense.
Importantly, and I think this was JLC's mic-drop moment even though it came in the middle of the column:
It doesn't mean Wilson is being greedy or the Seahawks are being cheap or that Wilson isn't going to be in Seattle a long, long time. It just means that it's increasingly likely it will take the impending use of the franchise tag in 2016 for these sides to eventually work something out for the long-term, or it may even run into 2017, with Wilson playing 2016 on the tag, to reach that conclusion. In the meantime, there will continue to be a slew of quasi-reports with misleading information, at best, about what has been discussed and what it means for both sides, and where this thing is going.
The Seahawks have reportedly made Wilson several offers. Wilson has reportedly turned them down, wanting more in the form of salary or guarantees. Neither of them are necessarily "wrong" here. It's a hugely complicated negotiation, the leverage is with the Seahawks in the short term (because they could have him at $1.5M next year) and with Wilson in the long term (quarterbacks are in high demand). Additionally, there's little real precedent for this particular situation (Wilson's meager 3rd-round salary this year under the new CBA being a real sticking point), and with a lack of deadlines at the moment, neither side has much reason to concede their position. Right now. Will that change next month? Maybe! Maybe not!
La Canfora has been on record saying he thinks Russell will play out 2015 on his rookie deal and that the negotiations will be pushed all the way into the next offseason. That may happen. We shall see. If it does happen, it doesn't mean Wilson's on the way out. It just changes the dynamic of the negotiations and likely changes the monetary benchmarks. I'm sure the team, and Wilson's camp, have plans to cross that bridge if and when that happens.
In the meantime, go read Kenny's column on the subject this morning, and keep in mind that this thing is far from over (unless it's not).