The more Russell Wilson talks about his baseball ambition, the more it becomes plain that he wants some contract leverage out of the threat. In another portion of his interview with HBO’s Real Sports that was leaked Saturday to Pro Football Talk, Wilson said general manager Jon Daniels of the Texas Rangers, who hold his baseball rights, actively encouraged him.
Wilson dismissed interviewer Bryant Gumbel’s citation of his weak numbers from two partial summers of minor league ball while the QB was in college.
“I wouldn’t be worried about the statistics of it,” Wilson said. “I know I can play in the big leagues. With the work ethic and all that, I think I definitely could for sure. And that’s why the Texas Rangers got my rights. And they want me to play. Jon Daniels, the GM, wants me to play. We were talking about it the other day.”
Wilson has yet to explain whether he wants simply to try out at spring training. Then again, why would he? The Seahawks have him under contract for the 2015 season, and then could use the franchise tag — giving him the average of each year’s top five salaries at his position — through 2018.
The option is not great for the Seahawks because the hit to the salary cap is the guaranteed full amount in each season, without the ability to spread the impact over years using various bonuses.
But Wilson really has little negotiating recourse except to try to make credible his desire to play another sport. His agent, Mark Rodgers, has represented many baseball clients over the years, but Wilson reportedly is his lone football client. So it seems that Rodgers is using his baseball contacts and HBO’s platform — the interview airs Tuesday evening — to advance the cause.
In partial public response on KIRO-FM radio, general manager John Schneider this week artfully dodged the chance to dismiss Wilson’s ambition, knowing that Wilson transferred out of North Carolina State with a season of eligibility left because coach Tom O’Brien refused to let him skip spring football to play minor league baseball.
“I think one of the primary things that really attracted Russell to us — I know me in particular — was the confidence he has in himself and the goals, dreams, aspirations,” Schneider said. “He’s off the charts in terms of his confidence level and the way he views himself, so it doesn’t surprise me that he would think that way.
“Quite frankly, I haven’t thought much about the baseball aspect of it. Based on the position that he plays in football, I think it would be difficult. But the way he attacks everything, I don’t think you could put anything past him.”
Schneider avoided saying the Seahawks in a new contract would preclude him from playing baseball.
On another topic, Wilson made a clear point that his baseball ambition is “in addition to” rather than “instead of” football. Gumbel asked whether the interception near the end of the Super Bowl that cost the Seahawks the go-ahead touchdown will define him.
“Even if you don’t get back (to the Super Bowl)?” Gumbel asked.
“I’ll get back.”
“You’re sure of that?”
“I’ll get back.”
Center candidate signs with Jacksonville
The Seahawks lost out on one prominent candidate to replace traded C Max Unger when free agent Stefen Wisniewski signed Saturday with Jacksonville. According to Jacksonville.com, Wisniewski signed a one-year deal for a bargain price of $2.5 million.
The Seahawks had him in for a visit, but obviously weren’t impressed enough to take the four-year starter with the Raiders off the market. He had shoulder surgery in the off-season.
Wisniewski reportedly had been seeking a deal around $5 million, but accepting a one-year deal means he can return to the free agent market next year if he’s able to prove his shoulder is strong. He would also have cost the Seahawks a compensatory draft pick had he signed before a CBA-imposed deadline of May 12.
On the roster the Seahawks have a center, Patrick Lewis, who started four games, plus free agent Jared Wheeler.