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Russell Wilson just got paid like no NFL player before him.
The Seattle Seahawks quarterback will now earn $157 million in salaries over the next five seasons. Or $31.4 million per. With $107 million of it guaranteed.
Not bad for the sixth quarterback selected in the 2012 NFL Draft – in the third round, 75th overall, after Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III, Ryan Tannehill, Brandon Weeden and Brock Osweiler.
The Seahawks early Tuesday morning agreed to terms with Wilson on a four-year contract extension (from 2020-23) reportedly worth $140 million. This, after the club pays the 30-year-old the remaining $17 million in salary on his current contract, which expires after 2019.
The QB’s agent had given the Seahawks a no-guff deadline of midnight Tuesday on the West Coast, or 3 a.m. EDT, for agreeing to terms on an enormous extension. Otherwise Wilson was prepared to wait until next March to be (a) franchise-tagged for 2020, or (b) traded, or (c) hit free agency.
Word of the deal leaked Tuesday shortly before 4 a.m. EDT – on Twitter, by Wilson himself. He posted a video of himself, lying next to his wife Ciara, saying, “Hey, Seattle, we got a deal.” News reports broke about half an hour later.
Wilson’s extension – which reportedly also includes a no-trade clause – is the most lucrative contract in NFL history, on a per-annum basis ($35 million) – exceeding the $33.5-million extension Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers inked last August.
And you know what? By the fast-escalating standard for top-shelf NFL quarterback pay, Wilson is worth it. No matter how much it might handcuff head coach Pete Carroll and GM John Schneider, cap-wise.
Wilson is elite.
Those who still view him as just a too-short, scrambly, ad-lib passer just haven’t been paying nearly close enough attention to his Hall of Fame-calibre production over his first seven NFL seasons, especially since 2015. Pick almost any statistical barometer, and Wilson sparkles.
Start with career touchdowns-to-interceptions ratio. Whereas Rodgers last season improved his from 4.01-to-1 to 4.23-to-1, and New England’s Tom Brady saw his fall slightly from 3.05-to-1 to 3.02-to-1, Wilson’s rose from 2.88-to-1 to 3.11-to-1. Wilson thereby has replaced Brady as No. 2 all-time in this category, behind only Rodgers.
What’s more, Wilson has thrown 124 touchdown passes over the past four seasons. That’s 12 more than Rodgers, two more than Philip Rivers of the Los Angeles Chargers, and equal to Drew Brees. Only Brady has thrown more TDs since 2015 – one more, 125.
Yet, inexplicably, Wilson is still seen by too many as some sort of passer-with-asterisks.
Early in his career, critics said Seattle’s fabulously talented defence and “Beastmode” running back Marshawn Lynch were mostly responsible for the Seahawks’ mid-decade near-dynasty. Wilson never got his due, despite piloting Seattle to a Super Bowl win in Year 2.
But since that tragic ending to Seattle’s 2014 season in Super Bowl XLIX, on the worst play call in NFL history – that misguided, fast slant pass at the New England one-yard line, which the Patriots intercepted to avoid defeat with half a minute left – the Seahawks defence and offensive line both gradually declined, while Lynch was never again a factor.
Yet one player almost singlehandedly kept Seattle among the ranks of the NFL’s best teams in 2015 and 2016, and nearly again in 2017, before last season’s roster overhaul and success renaissance.
And he did it by passing at an elite level. Not running and passing; mostly just passing, while scrambling for his life much of the time behind dreadful protection until last fall.
Whereas Wilson ran for 849 yards in 2014, he has averaged only 407 over the past three years. Last season five quarterbacks ran for more yards than Wilson’s 376.
Look, Russell Wilson is an elite passer, period. And barring major injury or an unexpected significant regression, he’s going to be quarterbacking the Seahawks well into next decade. He has said he hopes to do so for another decade after that, until age 45.
Don’t put it past him.
WHAT’S IN THE CARDS?: At his pre-draft news conference, Arizona GM Steve Keim said he, owner Michael Bidwill and head coach Kliff Kingsbury “are not done” deciding what to do with the No. 1 overall pick in the NFL Draft, a week from Thursday night.
“There are a number of players in my opinion, and our scouts’ opinions, and our coaching staff’s opinion, that warrant being the first overall selection,” Keim said, per reports.
He added that if the Cards had received calls from teams inquiring about trading up to No. 1, “those are the sorts of things that I’m going to keep private, or in-house.”
While there is no consensus in the punditry universe either, speculation is increasing that Arizona will indeed pick perceived top QB prospect Kyler Murray of Oklahoma, then trade QB Josh Rosen – last year’s 10th overall pick.
THE SCHEDULE: The NFL, apparently oblivious to the fact that three Canadian NHL teams face crucial playoff tests Wednesday night, will release the 2019 regular-season schedule Wednesday at 8 p.m. EDT.
NFL Network will provide live coverage and analysis. Each team, via social media and its website, will release its schedule at the top of that hour. The league will post all 32 team schedules at that time as well, at NFL.com.
GURLEY ‘PRETTY GOOD’: Running back Todd Gurley showed up Monday for the first day of the Los Angeles Rams’ voluntary spring program, and was inundated with questions about his wonky left knee. An off-season report said that after multiple injuries and surgeries, arthritis has set in.
“It’s feeling pretty good,” Gurley said, per reports. “(I’m) taking it day by day.”
Rams head coach Sean McVay said the team will continue to withhold players such as Gurley from unnecessary injury risks, as necessary, both in the spring and summer. Last year 10 Rams starters on offence and one on defence did not take a single snap in any of the four preseason games, and nine other defenders were put in for only a handful of cameo plays in one game.
A reminder that for all NFL players, workouts, drills and practices are voluntary until a mandatory, three-day minicamp concludes each team’s spring schedule in early to mid-June. Players are then off until training camps open in late July.
EXTRA POINTS: Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone said Tuesday the team won’t discipline constantly troubled RB Leonard Fournette, after he was arrested and charged last week for knowingly driving without a valid driver’s licence in the Jacksonville area. “I think you have to learn from those mistakes,” Marrone said. Boy, Fournette is doing a lot of learning as a pro football player … Tampa Bay GM Jason Licht on continuing speculation that the Bucs’ interior D-line anchor, Gerald McCoy, remains on the trading block: “There really hasn’t been any development. Gerald’s on our football team. We are focused on the draft.” Hardly a denial … Oakland signed UFA defensive end Benson Mayowa, who played previously in Seattle (2013), Oakland (2014-15), Dallas (2016-17) and Arizona (2018).
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