Russell Wilson is next in line to set the top of the financial market for quarterbacks, but what will his next contract look like?
The Seattle Seahawks had the most run-oriented offense in the NFL this year, but that didn’t stop Russell Wilson from setting a career-highs in touchdown passes (35) and passer rating (110.9) along with a tied for career-low seven interceptions.
Wilson is heading into the final year of a four-year, $87.6 million contract, and he’s scheduled to make $17 million next season. For comparison sake the latest quarterback to set the top of the market in terms of average annual value is Aaron Rodgers, who will make an average of $33.5 million over the course of his new deal. Since he signed his deal in July 2015, 10 quarterbacks have passed Wilson on the financial totem pole.
After a season-ending Wild Card Round loss to the Dallas Cowboys, Seahawks’ head coach Pete Carroll put a new deal for Wilson on the team’s offseason agenda. Seattle has some looming free agents, including defensive end Frank Clark, but getting Wilson signed beyond next season has to be a priority.
For his part, Wilson said last offseason he expected to be franchise tagged. Based on his cap number for 2019 ($25.28 million), that would put Wilson at a $30.34 fully guaranteed salary for the 2020 season under the franchise tag. Playing the franchise tag dance, like Kirk Cousins did, would land Wilson $67 million for the 2020 and ’21 seasons before he’d surely hit the open market.
Joel Corry of CBS Sports.com, a former agent, has suggested Wilson will become the league’s first $35 million (or more) per year player. Corry also points to a new deal carrying $125 million in guarantees, and the rationale is easy to see.
Wilson is 30 years old, and he won’t turn 31 until pretty deep into next season (Nov. 29). So he’s got plenty of peak years left, and Rodgers was 34 when he signed his recent bar-setting contract.
Per Corry, Rodgers’ deal puts him at the top in average annual salary (the aforementioned $33.5 million), signing bonus ($57.5 million), three-year cash flow ($102.5 million) and money in the first three new years ($108.5 million). Matt Ryan, who became the first $30 million per-year player early last offseason, carries the highest numbers in overall contract guarantees ($100 million), amount guaranteed within the first 12 months ($100 million) and amount fully guaranteed at signing ($94.5 million).
In 2018 alone, Jimmy Garoppolo, Kirk Cousins, Ryan and Rodgers took turns as the NFL’s highest-paid player and the top of that financial mountain increased by nearly 25 percent. Wilson’s deal will surely set the new bar.
Regardless of the number of years, the tale of Wilson’s new deal will mostly be told in the guaranteed money and the amount fully guaranteed early in the deal and/or at signing.
When it comes down to it expect Wilson to get a five or six-year deal for $175-$200 million in (somewhat mythical) total, with $110-$120 million in front-loaded full guarantees within the first three years.