I've been accused of favoring Russell Wilson during this series of posts and I guess I sort of am. I mean, I know the Seahawks aren't going to not sign him (unlike some people out there who still peddle the belief that they won't or that they will trade him) and I know that the market value is over $20 million per season. So what me worry?
Wilson has been a top 10 QB since midway through his rookie season and has displayed skills that history tells us are the type that lead players to become among the greatest of their era. I mean, when the Pro Football Hall of Fame announces their "All 2010s Team" there is a good chance that Wilson, Andrew Luck, and Aaron Rodgers will be the leading candidates to represent the quarterback position.
The other thing that we don't know (despite how many people believe everything they hear without really taking the time to consider, "Is this just some bullshit used to get clicks or use the media to gain leverage?") is if Wilson is asking for the world. Is he asking for $30 million per year? Does he want it to be fully-guaranteed? Is he asking to be a team owner?
If that's the case, then it's no wonder why the deal hasn't gone through yet. But at the end of the day, this is how negotiations work. One side low-balls (did Seattle want to pay him like Andy Dalton?) and the other side high-balls and eventually we reach medium ball level. Eventually, low-balls come with old age, which for Wilson, isn't another 10 years or so.
I don't think there's any chance that the Seahawks haven't signed Wilson because they don't believe he's a franchise quarterback or that he isn't "worth" a deal as large as the one Rodgers signed. Market says he is. But I've given you HUNDREDS (yes, that is accurate) of stats that show why Wilson is great. Are there many stats that imply that he's trending in the wrong direction?
Well, here's something interesting that you might not have seen yet.
During Wilson's rookie season, he gained 61.6% of his passing yards through the air, which ranked 4th in the NFL that season behind Mark Sanchez, Eli Manning, and Andrew Luck, per ProFootballFocus. That is to say that the majority of his passing yards came from the time the ball left his hand and was caught by a receiver. Just subtract YAC because YAC is something the receiver does, not the QB. Well, not always. A QB can lead a WR into position and make YAC something much easier to do.
However, Wilson has leaned on YAC a lot more as the months go by.
In 2013, his YIA% went down to 56.9%, which ranked ninth in the NFL.
In 2014, his YIA% went down to 46.1%, which ranked 25th, just behind Jay Cutler and just above Blake Bortles and Alex Smith.
Wilson has gone from picking up large chunks of yards through the air to perhaps playing it closer to the vest, checking down, finding guys within the yard markers. But is that a bad thing? And is YIA% a good thing?
Well, as you already saw, Sanchez was the leader in 2012. The leader in 2013 was Mike Glennon and in 2014 it was Josh McCown. So having a high YIA% pretty much gets you benched or cut. It doesn't mean it's a bad thing though because Peyton Manning was second last season and Tony Romo was fourth.
But Rodgers was 18th.
Really it comes down to a matter of style and what weapons you have to work with. While Sidney Rice was not much of a player during his time in Seattle due to injuries, the truth is that he's also a receiver unlike anything the Seahawks have had in the last two seasons. He's tall and he stretches the field. Last year they were working with Percy Harvin, Doug Baldwin, Jermaine Kearse, Tony Moeaki. That's also why Wilson had to run for so many yards.
The idea now would be that Chris Matthews could potentially fill that role, while of course Jimmy Graham is going to once again change the passing game entirely.
I don't think that Wilson's YIA% was good last year but I do think the fact that the offense has sort of adjusted based on personnel in each of the last three seasons, and that Wilson has managed to keep up, is a good thing. It means he can adapt, which is essential for any franchise QB. Look at Tom Brady, who has transformed himself multiple times throughout his career, and remained on top.
That's what you are hoping you can see from Wilson and another good reason to believe a deal will eventually get done.
(Fingers crossed, TODAY!)