With reports out there for awhile now that Russell Wilson wants to be the highest-paid player in the NFL, it sort of begs the question:
In baseball, answering this question is fairly simple. While you can argue that the AAV (average annual value) is more important than the TV (total value)(okay, that acronym wasn't necessary), that's a stupid argument because baseball contracts are fully-guaranteed. At the moment, Giancarlo Stanton of the Miami Marlins has a $325 million deal over 13 years.
If you haven't paid attention to MLB contracts, but you know that Aaron Rodgers makes $110 million, yes, that IS fucking ridiculous and you SHOULDN'T feel bad.
The average per year of $25 million is less than the $29.2 million of Miguel Cabrera, but at the end of the day, Stanton is guaranteed to make $32 million more than Cabrera. Maybe Cabrera ends up making more when all is said and done, but it's not guaranteed.
Meanwhile, the AAV is absolute shit compared to Sebastian Vettel.
A Formula One racer who has a three-year contract worth $240 million. Basically, the "Jordan Spieth" of Formula One (is it fair yet to replace "Jordan Spieth" as the golf phenom reference over Tiger Woods yet?) will make more money in 2015 ($80 million) than Wilson is probably going to make in the first three years of his deal, total.
Vettel will also make more money this year than 99% of NFL players will make in their careers. I'm not 100% certain of that 99% but I'm like 99.99% certain. In total, that's a 99.56% certainty. Still following? Because NFL contracts are even more complicated than the equations I just made up.
AAV is a pretty shitty way to measure who has the best NFL contract.
Also, TV is a pretty shitty way to measure who has the best NFL contract.
Also, guaranteed money can be a good way to measure who has the best NFL contract, but it can also be a shit way to measure NFL contracts.
Because they aren't fully-guaranteed, but also because in football a player has little guarantee that he'll even be healthy enough to play in the next five months, let alone the next five years, you really have to get as much money upfront as possible. The majority of NFL contracts do not expire on the date that they were set to expire when signed. If you've been reading Field Gulls for awhile, then you know that Davis Hsu, not me, is "the money man," and what has been more and more prevalent when discussing "the best deal" for a player, it pretty much comes down to the first three years.
Since you are probably are not going to make it to the $29 million you have backloaded on the last year of your deal (but it does do a nice job of pumping up the AAV and total value for no reason) then any player, especially a franchise QB like Wilson, wants to know what the can get now.
Or, almost now.
I've seen a lot of people around the internet discuss what a Wilson wants, what a Wilson needs, as well as whatever makes him happy and makes him the opposite of free, but most of these internet people are missing the point. They're talking about how he wants to make "more" than Aaron Rodgers, or that it doesn't matter because "the highest paid player" changes every week; that he needs to make more than $110 million; he needs to make $60 million guaranteed; he needs to make over $25 million a year!
Pick one, who cares, it doesn't matter. This is what matters:
He needs to make more than Cam Newton.
At least, if he's the next franchise QB to sign a deal, then he needs to make more than what Newton just made. Combine that with what I said earlier about getting paid now and not later, then what he needs to do is make more money than Newton is making in his first three years of the new deal.
Unfortunately, only one player in NFL history has signed a contract that paid him more over the first three years than what Newton's new deal calls for: Peyton Manning. And Newton does not belong in this conversation. At least, not as much as Wilson does.
Newton's new deal was for $103.8 million in total value, $41 million fully-guaranteed, and an AAV of $20.7 million, but what really matters is that Newton is going to be paid $67.6 million between now and 2018. That's a $7.5 million roster bonus now and over $60 million in 2016, 2017, and 2018, which he's almost certain to play; There aren't any cap savings until 2018, and even then, the savings are nominal.
Just look at Jay Cutler, who signed a new deal beginning in 2014 that pays him $52 million over the first three years of his deal. It's why he's still on the Bears despite how poorly he's played, because they aren't going to save a dime by cutting him and nobody wants him in trade. He could get cut next year, but they'll save just $4 million and have $13 million in dead money.
Earlier this year, Ben Roethlisberger signed an extension that pays him $65 million over the first three years of the deal.
This is the number that's being emphasized this year. Ryan Tannehill's new deal calls for over $51 million in the first three years, but after 2016 the savings in releasing him are much better than the dead money that would be left on the books, so if he's terrible, the second and third year could be evacuated rather easily.
No other QB comes close to the $54 million guarantee that Rodgers has (save for Sam Bradford who still has a rookie deal with a $50 million guarantee, herein reminding you of how fucking stupid rookie contracts used to be) so that's all well-and-good. In the world of guarantees, Rodgers still stands alone.
But if anything happened that gave the Packers a reason to cut him, they could do so as soon as 2016 and save a good chunk of money. They wouldn't owe him anything on the last two years of his deal either. When he signs his next deal or extension, it's probably going to have a lot of that upfront money.
For Wilson, just focus on that $67.6 million figure from Newton. It's the most recent deal for a franchise QB and sadly it went to one that's been kinda average over the last three seasons. The deal that Manning signed with the Indianapolis Colts in 2011 paid him $70.2 million over the first three years (and wouldn't you know it, there was a situation where Manning and the Colts had to part ways), but Wilson could be poised to break that record.
A deal that paid Wilson $72 million over the first three seasons would give him an average of $24 million per year over that period of time. It's a fuckload, and the bigger problem than it being a fuckload is that it's a fuckload that's coming from a place that does not currently exist. It's not the same as Roethlisberger and the Steelers or even Newton and the Panthers, because Wilson doesn't currently make jack shit.
They just have to add $22.5 million to the cap over what Wilson's cap number is now, basically.
Newton made $7 million last year, which is $3 million more than Wilson is making on his entire rookie deal. This is potentially the most complicated contract negotiation in decades, and for that reason, it could very well stretch into next year. There isn't a good reason for the Seahawks rushing it, because they're gonna tag him next year anyway and it gives them more flexibility to not sign him to a deal that pays him that much money before finding out what he does next season.
At this point, he can really only drive his value down.
People might say, "No, if he wins the Super Bowl, he'll be worth more!"
Really? He'll be worth how much more if he's a two-time champion compared to being a one-time champ, two-appearance guy? He's already asking to be paid more than anyone else ever, how much higher can it get? It's nothing compared to how much money he could lose if there's an injury, or if his numbers go down, or if Seattle doesn't go to the Super Bowl again.
And Wilson isn't in a rush to sign because if the Seahawks aren't offering him more than Newton, Andy Dalton, and Colin Kaepernick, he has every right to scoff at that. He's better than all of those players. He's a lot better than all of those players.
Seattle isn't in a hurry to offer $70+ million in three-year money, Wilson isn't going to accept less. (My theory, at least.) There is a very good chance that we won't hear of any deal getting done in 2015. But please, enjoy the many posts such as this one that talk about the negotiations!