'Hey Seattle, we got a deal': Seahawks reportedly make Russell Wilson the NFL's highest-paid player
Russell Wilson and the Seattle Seahawks have agreed to a new contract that will make the five-time Pro Bowl quarterback the NFL's highest-paid player, ESPN's Adam Schefter reported and the Seattle Times confirmed early Tuesday morning, April 16.
Wilson tweeted out a short video at 12:44 a.m. Pacific time, saying "hey Seattle, we got a deal" while in bed next to wife Ciara.
Wilson had given the Seahawks a deadline of midnight Monday to work out a new deal; otherwise, he would not have any further contract negotiations during the upcoming season. The two sides had been negotiating for four days, Schefter reports, finally agreeing to a four-year, $140 million extension that includes a $65 million signing bonus and will keep Wilson in Seattle through 2023, when he will be 35 years old.
Wilson will make an average of $35 million per season, topping the previous mark set by Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers ($33.5 million). The signing bonus also set a record, again beating out Rodgers ($57.5 million). In total, Wilson is guaranteed at least $107 million, and the contract also includes a no-trade clause.
Wilson was entering the final year of a four-year contract extension he signed (also at the last minute) in July 2015, which paid him $21.9 million, at the time the second-biggest salary in the NFL (behind Rodgers). The new deal means the Seahawks will not have to risk putting the franchise tag on their quarterback after next season to keep him, though Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network adds that the team was able to stick to its mantra of not fully guaranteeing its players' contracts.
"Russell loves this town, this team, and these fans," Wilson's agent, Mark Rodgers, told the Seattle Times early Tuesday morning. "Part of the compromise involved his affection for all things Seattle. The idea of playing anywhere else was not nearly as appealing as playing right here, the place he and his family call home."
Considering that NFL franchise quarterbacks are in such short supply, Seattle had little choice but to pay the asking price for Wilson, who has helped lead the Seahawks to six playoff appearances and a Super Bowl title in his seven NFL seasons. In 2018, Wilson set career highs for touchdown passes (35) and passer rating (110.9) while also tying his career low with only seven interceptions.
But as Schefter points out, Wilson's massive salary could make it difficult for Seattle to re-sign all-pro middle linebacker Bobby Wagner and top pass-rusher Frank Clark, who both are in line for top-dollar contract extensions. The Seahawks have applied the franchise tag to Clark for this season, though he has yet to sign his tender and has been the subject of trade talks.
This article was written by Matt Bonesteel, a reporter for The Washington Post.