Jason La Canfora posited an idea at the Combine this morning that Russell Wilson could play out the remainder of his rookie deal, with no intention of leaving Seattle long-term.
Wilson, never one lacking in strength and fortitude and with a shocking degree of self-belief, seems wired much like a Joe Flacco, to play out his rookie contract and gamble on himself and see what the market will bear after another sterling season in 2015. There is always the threat of injury, of course, or losing leverage from a down season. But Wilson is uber-positive, and some who know the young man well believe he is quite capable of going through this process, and, if what's on the table doesn't make sense long-term, they believe Wilson will play it out, and have Seattle in the position to pay him big time, or franchise him, in 2016.
The numbers on that type of scenario would be a $800,000 to $2M hit for 2015 under his rookie contract (with some built in incentives from his rookie deal). La Canfora projected an $18.3M Franchise Tag for 2015 under a $142M cap figure for 2015, so if you project 8 percent growth into the next season, that puts the 2016 Number for a quarterback at around $19.8M.
Even if Andrew Luck would increase the numbers on the Top-5 quarterbacks (which would increase the Franchise Tag number), Russell Wilson would still cap out at $23.7M for 2017 if he had to be tagged a 2nd time. Why? You get 120% more than your previous year no matter what.
On the other hand, if Russell Wilson did a more traditional deal this offseason -- his cap hits could look something like this:
So, from a cap perspective -- 2016 and 2017 may look similar for Seattle's cap hit, whether they did a deal or franchised Wilson two years in a row. So where are the differences?
Under the "Franchise Wilson twice" scenario, he would get about $42M over the next 3 years. If he did a Flacco-like deal I think he would get at least $68M over the next three years (cash in his pocket). We can't act like this $26M dollar swing is not a big deal.
Why do this?
The cap savings for Seattle would be close to something around $4-5M in cap in 2015, which is not small, but not GIANT.
In the end, I think it's an idea worth exploring because it can set some parameters for negotiation, but in the end, I still lean toward a deal getting done this offseason. That said, I respect La Canfora and I don't believe he is putting this idea out there without some credible sources. It's worth bringing up, but I personally would bet the odds of this happening are less than 50 percent.
You don't want to be in "limbo" over a multi-year period on a player, especially when you are reshaping an offense around one particular player's strengths and weaknesses (in this case - Wilson).
If Wilson really did this as an "unselfish" act and it did allow Seattle to boost their player acquisition without putting a long-term plan with both Wilson and Bobby Wagner in jeopardy... I would not oppose it! And the JLC concept is not out of reason knowing the type of special mind-frame Wilson operates with. Perhaps this is the "out of the box" type of thing that John Schneider recently alluded to.
But I would not bet on it.