The Elephant in the Locker Room: What “Meet Russell Wilson” Is Coming to Mean
After two Super Bowl appearances in a row, everyone’s paying attention… yet even with all the scrutiny, it seems that there’s always some key issue that’s getting glossed over. It’s the elephant in the locker room, if you will, and gosh darn if I’ll let that ride. Join us on Saturday mornings for a little closer look at our NFC West Champions.
By Greg Wright
News runs awfully thin between “voluntary OTAs” and training camp. Sure a good thing we’ve got a high-profile contract extension to be talking about, eh?
For those who haven’t been paying attention, the 2015 season will be the final year in Russell Wilson’s rookie contract. Per the NFLPA CBA (Collective Bargaining Agreement), rookie contracts are signed at relatively fixed rates—and because Wilson was drafted in the third round, his four-year contract for $2.99 million has made him the bargain-basement steal of the NFL. While other top-flight teams have been paying their quarterbacks upwards of $20 million per year, the Seahawks are still only required to pay Wilson $1.5 million for the coming season. This has allowed the Hawks to allocate their salary budget to the defense—one of the keys to their stunning run deep into the playoffs the last three seasons.
After the third years of Number 3’s rookie contract, he’s eligible to negotiate an extension which could call for a significantly higher salary in his fourth year and beyond. After two straight Super Bowl appearances, Russell Wilson is due for a payday. Given the kinds of contracts that lesser QBs have recently signed (SF’s Kaepernick last year, 6 years at $114 million; the Panthers’ Cam Newton this year, 5 years at $108 million), speculators estimate that Wilson will get a new contract valued at over $24 million a year. NFL insiders (read: rumormongers) report that Wilson is asking the Seahawks for a contract that will earn him more than Green Bay’s QB Aaron Rodgers (5 years, $110 million).
Casual football fans might find the latter claim hard to credit. After all, Wilson is Seattle’s darling, an unassuming, cliche-spouting, hard-working, hospital-visiting, down-to-earth, nose-to-the-gridiron football fanatic. He couldn’t really be paying that much attention to what others are making, could he?
Well, Wilson’s PR department has been working overtime since the ill-fated conclusion of Superbowl XLIX. Whether Wilson has ever personally managed his social media feeds or not, we know for certain this is how Wilson rolls now:
— Entourage Movie (@entouragemovie) May 20, 2015
Since Wilson was taken under the wing of the New York Yankees’ former star Derek Jeter, signing on to become one of the founding members of The Players Tribune last October, there’s no question that Wilson has been transforming his image from one of the NFL’s humbler players into, well, the image of a Player…
— Forbes SportsMoney (@SportsMoneyBlog) June 16, 2015
…maybe even a Playboy. A couple months ago, Wilson started dating pop star Ciara. She’s accompanied him to gala dinners as well as Seattle Children’s Hospital.
This week, Wilson created something of a firestorm by posting the following image on Facebook for “Women Crush Wednesday.” (The image is part of the promotion for Ciara’s new album.)
Many die-hard Seahawk fans and Russell Wilson acolytes have been crying foul. After all, this is not the image of Seahawk QBs. Not at all. Nope.
This is how superstar Seattle QBs roll:
That’s all well and good, actual football fans will say. But what on God’s green astroturf does any of this have to do with actual football?
And here’s the answer.
Midway through last season I (somewhat ironically) wrote about “The Next Tom Brady.” In that column, I observed the following:
Don’t expect Carroll to sacrifice the future of the team in order to build around a superstar QB. If Carroll continues to guide the team over the next decade, we’ve probably only got another five years or so of watching Wilson play for the home team.
After that… expect a blockbuster trade that keeps the Seahawks defense stacked for years to come.
As the Hawks proved in February, who needs a Peyton Manning (or the Next Tom Brady) when you’ve got The Legion of Boom: The Next Generation?
And do you really want the Next Tom Brady when the Original Tom Brady hasn’t won a Superbowl since 2004?
Those QB salaries are a killer. When the time comes to invest in rebuilding the defense, Carroll won’t flinch.
Wilson is not the long-term future of the franchise. It’s still the D.
I chafe a little bit at the Hawks getting bested by Brady’s defense in the Super Bowl… but seriously: where do perennial Super Bowl QBs often end up? Media markets like Boston or New York, not backwater hick markets like Seattle.
Russell Wilson is already dressing the part he expects to play for years to come. The Seahawks will undoubtedly sign Wilson to a long-term contract. Will he end up with the richest contract in NFL history? That remains to be seen.
But again: don’t expect Wilson to be in Seattle ten years from now (if he’s still healthy enough to play). Two or three years into his new contract, Wilson will inherit Manning’s spot on the Giants… or may, in fact, be the next Tom Brady. With the Patriots.
That’s how megastar QBs (with pop star wives) roll.