To hear Mark Rodgers tell it, the discussions between the agent for QB Russell Wilson and the Seahawks front office are a coo and a whisper short of an office bromance. Contrary to much national media speculation, the conclusion of negotiations could be accompanied by Julie Andrews singing, “The Sound of Music.”
Cool. I like musicals.
Of course, Rodgers could be making up the hugfest as a tactic, or just making it up — he is a sports agent, after all — but if his words are taken seriously, major friction is not detectable.
“I would characterize our talks as ongoing, fluid, robust at times, thoughtful,” Rodgers said on ESPN 710 this week in his first Seattle media interview. “And we’ve made progress . . . I would characterize them as positive and encouraging.”
He also said Wilson is prepared to play into the fourth and final year of his rookie-year contract at $1.5 million, bothering to mention that the apparently frugal Wilson has neither mortgage nor car payments. Which might explain his endorsement clients that include everything short of Sepp Blatter plush toys. Guy has to make ends meet.
If true, then here’s the question before the House of Twelves:
Are the Seahawks’ chances to return to the Super Bowl for a third consecutive season better with Wilson making $1.5 million or $20 million?
Even small children who have enrolled only NFL Salary Cap 101 can say persuasively: Better at $1.5 million.
The money unspent on Wilson in 2015 can go to current players, or an emergency hire of a top veteran.
GM John Schneider is a crafty dude: Remember that no one saw coming the trades for RB Marshawn Lynch, WR Percy Harvin or TE Jimmy Graham. But those players’ original teams all had reasons to move these difference-making talents. The Seahawks were ready, and probably need to be ready again.
Schneider and staff also know things about their players’ health and weaknesses that may cause a sudden shift in needs. Such shifts are much more readily accomplished with room under the salary cap than smashed up against it.
The risk of fourth-year play falls heavily on the side of Wilson. He must avoid serious injury that would deny him the payday the Seahawks currently are offering with an extension. After 2015, the Seahawks have the option to use the exclusive-rights franchise tag, meaning no team can pursue Wilson.
But using the tag means the Seahawks must pay the average of the five highest salaries at the quarterback position. Former agent Joel Corry estimated for AM 1090 The Fan that the number, at the moment, for 2016 would be $25.18 million. A lot, yes, but not so much considering the savings taken in 2015 to make a better team.
Even if the Seahawks were to get Wilson to sign an extension this summer, they likely would offer him a 2015 signing bonus of $15 million-plus atop his $1.5 million base. So $25 million in 2016 in not unmanageable.
But after 2016, another use of the franchise tag would begin to paralyze — an escalation to more than $30 million, all payable, again, in the single year. But by then, the contracts of Schneider and coach Pete Carroll are also up, so they are likely less motivated to sweat beyond 2016.
From that perspective, it’s reasonable to conclude that working beyond the next two seasons is secondary, and finding The Lost Yard in 2015 is the prime directive. Which means that agreeing to play out the fourth year — according to Rodgers, is “an absolutely fine” option for Wilson — makes sense.
There must be other topics in play that neither side has disclosed — baseball, anyone? — but as to the big picture, the offers and counteroffers must have been made by now. In Rodgers’ words, Wilson “would love to stay there (Seattle) for a long time,’’ and nothing in negotiations has changed the desire: “None of our conversations have been threatening at all,” he said.
It would be fun to hear “The Sound of Music” this summer, but no 12 would mind hearing it a year from now, after The Lost Yard has been found.