Projecting a Bobby Wagner extension

Now that the draft is over and the dust has settled, the Seahawks have an opportunity to look inwards and offer extensions to some of their key players. With Frank Clark wearing a Chiefs uniform, cap space is bountiful.

Accounting for rookies and the top 51 rule, Seattle sits at ~$26M in cap space (ranks 12th in the NFL). At the time of writing this, I expect Kam Chancellor to be released within the next 48-96 hours. Releasing Kam with a pre-June 1st designation would save Seattle an additional $2.3M in cap space. For all intents and purposes, let’s assume a $28.3M cap space number — as I feel this is the most likely scenario.

Going into the offseason there were four key players I expected Seattle to address: Russell Wilson (extended), Frank Clark (traded), Bobby Wagner (TBD), and Jarran Reed (TBD). I expect Seattle to extend both Jarran and Bobby, but I believe Bobby is next in line for a big extension. When Bobby signed his extension in August of 2015, Seattle made him the highest paid linebacker in the league. However, that didn’t last long as Kuechly quickly signed after him with the Panthers. As it sits right now, in terms of APY, Bobby is the 7th highest paid linebacker in the NFL. In terms of projecting an extension with the Seahawks, there’s two deals I believe will be referenced throughout negotiations:

  • Bobby Wagner’s old/current extension with Seattle (specifically the guarantee percentage, structure of the deal, cash flow, etc)
  • CJ Mosley’s recent deal with the Jets (the deal that made him the highest paid LB in the NFL)

The critical reference is Mosley’s deal, as the deal really blew the top off the linebacker market. I spoke to multiple teams, execs, and agents who were shocked to see the numbers he received. For those out of the loop, last month the Jets signed CJ Mosley to a 5 year/$85M contract with $43M fully guaranteed at signing and $51M in overall guarantees. Those are big numbers for a linebacker.

With that said, here’s what I think a Bobby Wagner extension will look like. I’ll break down some key notes below.

  • As always, add up the numbers in each row (left to right) to sum up the cap number.
  • The projected deal for Bobby is $72M over four (4) years.
    • The deal’s APY is $18M a year, beating Mosley’s APY record by $1M.
  • The deal contains a $35M signing bonus, as well as $36M fully guaranteed at signing ($35M of signing bonus + the $1M 2019 base salary).
    • This guarantee structure would preserve Seattle’s precedent of not guaranteeing base salaries at signing beyond year one.
    • 50% of the deal is fully guaranteed a signing, essentially matching Mosley (who came in at 50.6%).
  • His entire 2020 base salary is guaranteed against injury at signing, as well as $2M of his 2021 base salary.
    • Each of these guarantees will vest into full guarantees on the fifth day of each respective league year.
    • The total guarantee number on the deal is $43M, or 59% of the deal (Mosley was 60% of deal in total guarantees).
  • Bobby’s previous deal with the Hawks had 46 man roster bonuses throughout the final couple years, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see Seattle do the same for the final two years of the extension.
  • Bobby sees $36M in year one (the signing bonus + base salary), or half the deal’s value in year one.
  • This projected extension would actually reduce his 2019 cap hit against the Seahawks by $5M (saving $5M in 2019 cap space).

Would be a good deal for both sides, as Bobby is critical the defense’s success.