Each time I write something positive about Russell Wilson, a legion of Wilson haters emerge with their torches and their pitchforks and their Jason masks and set the world aflame. Because some men just want to watch the world burn.
Well, get the kerosene ready.
I think this season we are going to see the best Wilson yet—not in spite of his rocky contract negotiations with the Seahawks, but because of them.
Outwardly, we will see the same Wilson who says all the right things and does all the right things and smiles at the right time and kisses babies and waves to the crowd like an Avenger. But on the inside, the side Wilson is so adept at hiding from the public, there’s going to be fire. He’ll be agitated, and he’ll use it to push himself to new heights.
Sources close to the situation tell me that talks between Wilson and the Seahawks are not going smoothly, something SI’s Peter King touched on in his MMQB column this week. The problem is not that they are going terribly or acrimoniously; it’s that they are just stagnant. For now. Things could change quickly.
But I’ve also been told by a Seattle player that Wilson isn’t exactly crazy about this state of stagnancy. Oh, as he always does, Wilson will say and do the right things publicly. But this Seahawks teammate believes if Wilson doesn’t get a new contract this offseason, he will use the slight as motivation.
(And you can only imagine how much more motivated he’d be if Seattle did something like bring in Michael Vick, as ESPN.com’s John Clayton suggested.)
Wilson made $662,434 last season, according to Spotrac, 63rd among NFL quarterbacks. This season, his salary (all guaranteed) is $1.542 million. At least 27 and as many as 40quarterbacks could make more than that. Forty. Forty.
This despite going to two Super Bowls in his first three seasons and being part of a rapid transformation of the Seahawks franchise.
Part of the problem is the system. The rookie cap holds down salaries for years after players sign their first contracts. That’s why Wilson’s salary is so low despite the massive amount of winning.
The Seahawks could rip up that contract and reward Wilson now. But that’s not necessarily the way the Seahawks do business. And the way they do business has been the best way of any franchise in the sport, so it’s hard to argue with their methods.
It’s also hard to argue with Wilson wanting a new deal. So here we are.
The best part of King’s column was his illustration of how at every step, Wilson proved people wrong. This was excellent from King, speaking in Wilson’s voice: “My franchise had finished below .500 four straight years before I got here, and we’re 42-14 with two trips to the Super Bowl in my time, and we can’t get a deal done? I’ll show management.”
The benefit for the Seahawks will be an even more focused Wilson. A better Wilson.
And that’s without factoring in the new weapon Wilson has in tight end Jimmy Graham. The Seahawks, in the history of their franchise, have never had a tight end like Graham.
They still have a top-three defense, a top-two running back and now a top-two or -three tight end. Sure, sometimes Graham is afraid of physical contact, but Graham will still be, well, Graham. He’ll be great.