Breaking down the Russell Wilson extension

In a midnight showdown of high intensity negotiations, the Seattle Seahawks and Russell Wilson’s camp agreed to an extension that will keep him in Seattle for the next five years. This is incredible news for every single Seahawks fan. He is arguably the most valuable player in the history of Seattle sports. Keeping him in the fold was a must. And now it’s done.

With that said, we’ve seen some reports break about the specific nature, structure, and guarantees of Russell’s new deal.

Below is what I believe Wilson’s new contract with the Seahawks breaks down to, or at least very close to. I’m simply using basic math and NFL contract/CBA mandated principles to logically deduce the structure. First of all, several high level points to note:

  • The deal is $140M over four years in new money ($35M APY).
  • It includes $70M in fully GTD money ($65M signing bonus + 2019 base). Note that the Seahawks protected their guaranteed contract structure precedent here of not guaranteeing base salaries beyond year 1.
  • The deal includes $107M in total guarantees.
  • The deal includes a no-trade clause, almost guaranteeing beyond a doubt that Wilson will see the entire deal… regardless of circumstance.
  • Note: this contract projection is not 100% official, but is very likely to be close to the exact contract.

Now, how did I identify the structure? Let me break it down…

  • First of all, JLC’s tweet indicates RW gets $70M in year one. This seems to indicate a $5M 2019 base salary, as his signing bonus is $65M. And remember, signing bonuses are paid up front to the player, but prorated evenly over the cap (a max of five years). Add his $65M signing bonus to a $5M base salary and RW sees $70M year one.
  • Through 2020, RW sees $88M per JLC — again indicating an $18M 2020 base salary (simply $88M – $70M year 1 = $18M 2020 base).
  • Through 2021, he’ll see $107M — simply add a $19M 2021 base salary to his year-to-date cash flow and you reach $107M.
  • Through 2022 RW will see $131M, again indicating another $24M base salary — HOWEVER, Ian reports that the 2022 and 2023 years both include $5M roster bonuses in each year. So simply remove $5M from the assumed 2022 $24M base salary: make it $19M, add the $5M roster bonus and you’ve got $131M year to date cash flow.
  • Through 2020 RW will see $157M, simply add a $21M base salary + the $5M roster bonus and you’ll reach $157M in expected year to date cash flow.

It’s a great deal for both sides. Good day to be a Seahawks fan.