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Russell Wilson wound up costing Seahawks far more than $35M per year

Seattle Seahawks v Arizona Cardinals Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images

The years-long saga of the Seattle Seahawks and a potential Russell Wilson trade has finally come to pass, with fans of both the Hawks and the Denver Broncos looking forward to what the future brings. For Wilson it’s on to Denver where he will look to resurrect a franchise that has failed to make the postseason since Peyton Manning and Von Miller somehow led the 2015 Broncos to a Lombardi, while Seattle looks to turn the page and find the next franchise quarterback.

That said, while looking forward with hope and optimism is what fans do, with Wilson now off the roster, the full cap impact of Wilson’s 2019 contract can be calculated. The contract itself, a four-year, $140M deal was signed in the spring of 2019, and the $35M average annual salary was the highest in the history of the NFL at the time of signing. One key item to keep in mind for this discussion, though, is that at the time of execution, Wilson was under contract with the Seahawks for one more season, meaning the extension itself did not go into effect until the arrival of the 2020 season. Thus, Wilson played just two years on his record-breaking $140M deal.

Moving on to the cap impact of the contract, here are the cap impacts of the deal by year:

2019: $1M (base salary reduced $12M, $13M signing bonus proration)
2020: $31M cap hit
2021: $32M cap hit
2022: $26M dead cap ($13M of signing bonus proration from each of 2022 and 2023)
Total cap impact: $90M

Therefore, combining the two seasons Wilson played for Seattle and the $90M he was paid by the Seahawks for those two years, the math is simple. At the end of the day the Wilson contract effectively cost the Seahawks $45M per year.