Russell Wilson and the Seahawks have agreed to a 4-year, $87.6-million extension, per source.
— Peter King (@SI_PeterKing) July 31, 2015
It took a while to get there, but all’s well that ends well.
While Kam Chancellor stays away (at great expense) and Bobby Wagner ponders his future in Seattle, this is the deal the Seahawks had to get done. And nothing can put a dampener on the significance of this move.
Only a month ago, Mike Florio Tweeted the following:
Been hearing from plenty of folks since posting latest Russell Wilson blurb. Current prediction: He's playing for someone else in 2016.
— ProFootballTalk (@ProFootballTalk) June 26, 2015
A future without Wilson simply wasn’t fathomable. There are so few good quarterbacks in the NFL. In May Tom Cable suggested college spread offenses were making it very difficult for quarterbacks to transition to the pro’s.
Training a new college quarterback (presumably without an early pick) is not an attractive proposition. Neither is a situation where you deal Wilson, he flourishes elsewhere and the replacement struggles.
Seattle was never going to be the team that messed this up. Not in this way. Not with this front office.
Look at the situations in Miami or Cincinnati. Two franchises challenged to pay average quarterbacks handsomely on long term deals — without really knowing if either Ryan Tannehill or Andy Dalton will take the next step. Both teams decided the alternative — trying to find a replacement — was a bigger gamble than sticking with what they had.
Wilson is far more talented than both players. The Seahawks weren’t going to let go.
He’s also the best quarterback in Seahawks history. A uniquely gifted franchise passer. The type people will compare other players to for a generation. It was supposed to be Michael Vick or Robert Griffin III. Instead it’ll be Wilson’s name mentioned every time we find a young, mobile, productive passer. “Can he be the next Russell Wilson?” is a phrase you will hear in the future time and time again.
The stalled negotiations and soap-opera feel to the media coverage painted a negative picture. Perhaps that should’ve been anticipated? We all assumed (or at least I did) a deal would come quite quickly. Wilson had gone well beyond expectations as a third round pick. He wanted to be compensated like the best — and it’s what he deserved.
Seattle equally showed incredible judgement in drafting Wilson — and earned the luck that came with it. A third round franchise quarterback at a dirt-cheap price. They had every right to benefit from the final year of his rookie deal — and had to find a way to keep the rest of their group together.
The impasse lasted right until the final hours before training camp began. Now? A collective sigh of relief — from the fans, front office and probably the Wilson camp too.
The cumulative Seahawks roster benefits from their quarterback just as much as he does from a league-leading defense or Marshawn Lynch. He compliments Lynch perfectly. He takes advantage of a stingy defense.
Look at the Bills. Destined again in 2015 to present a ferocious defense and, more than likely, a frustrating offense. They have offensive talent. Sammy Watkins, LeSean McCoy and Percy Harvin to name just three examples. Yet with Matt Cassel throwing the passes, they’ll do well to make 8-8.
That would be the Seahawks without Wilson. Good and very close to great — but missing the final piece.
Perhaps the most impressive part of Wilson’s success so far is the way he’s done it without a top-tier receiver or tight end. Doug Baldwin, Jermaine Kearse, Golden Tate (and others) — all good at what they do but not the elite, rare talent that quarterbacks like Tony Romo and Peyton Manning currently benefit from. He has had Marshawn Lynch of course. But the amount we’ve talked about college receivers over the last two years shows the vacancy for a true #1. It’s why the Seahawks seemingly showed interest in Dorial Green-Beckham before he was drafted by the Titans. It’s why they’ve looked at a number of different receivers over the years — including Brandon Marshall, Vincent Jackson and eventually Percy Harvin.
Jimmy Graham will help here. Wilson has room for improvement going into year four. Having that dynamic target at tight end — a special talent — can aid that progress.
Even without Graham, Wilson has excelled whoever he’s been throwing to. From the days of Sidney Rice to the crucial 4th down score to Braylon Edwards against the Patriots in 2012. The link he formed with Chris Matthews in the latest Super Bowl or the connection he had to Zach Miller and then Luke Willson last season. He hasn’t needed a Dez Bryant, A.J. Green or Julio Jones to excite and produce.
You won’t see a better pass than this. Pressure right in his grill, unable to step into the throw. Wilson launches a perfect 47-yard bomb to Jermaine Kearse, hitting him in stride. And yes — he made the throw while remaining in the pocket.
Need further evidence of his quality? How about the overtime wins against Chicago, Denver and Green Bay? No fuss. In the most intense pressure, in the biggest games — Wilson calmly managed each occasion like a 2-minute drill in practise.
The Seahawks are right in the middle of a Championship window. It’s why they’ve been aggressive to land Graham (and previously to get Harvin). They know the time is now. Wilson is signed until 2019. Their core group of stars are mostly committed for the next three years at least. Barring unfortunate luck with injuries, they’ll compete for each of the next 3-5 years and possibly beyond.
Wilson will be right at the heart of that challenge.