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Breaking Down Russell Wilson's Extension

Breaking Down Russell Wilson's Extension

The Terms

Wilson’s 4 new years and $140M of new money come by way of a $65M signing bonus, $65M of base salary, & $10M of roster bonuses available at the end of the deal. It’s a pretty straight forward structure, as per usual with Seattle.

 

The Guarantees

While $70M of this contract is fully guaranteed at signing (the $65M signing bonus & $5M base salary for 2019) it’s all but certain that Wilson plays this contract out through the year 2022, which means $131M cash ($114M of new money). As per usual with Seattle contracts of this magnitude, only the first year of the deal is fully guaranteed, after which guarantees kick in a few days after the preceding Super Bowl. In Wilson’s case this is the 5th day of the 2020 & 2021 waiver periods respectively. It should be noted that those salaries are guaranteed for injury now.

 

The Cap Hits

Wilson’s 2019 cap figure increases $1M with the new contract, up to $26.2M, which is currently the 6th highest in all of football, and represents less than 14% of the league cap this year.

From there, he’ll hold cap figures of $31M, $32M, $37M, & $39M through 2023, which seem large, but should be plenty tenable with the consistently rising league salary cap trend.

 

The Rankings

In terms of new money total, Russell Wilson’s $140M contract with the Seahawks ranks 3rd behind Matt Ryan ($150M), & Khalil Mack ($141M). Full Ranks: https://www.spotrac.com/nfl/contracts/

His $35M average annual value is the highest in the history of the NFL, and $1.5M more than Aaron Rodgers ($33.5M). Full Ranks: https://www.spotrac.com/nfl/rankings/average/

While his initial $70M guaranteed at signing ranks 4th (Ryan, Cousins, Rodgers), the $107M of practical guarantees sits atop the all-time list. Full Ranks: https://www.spotrac.com/nfl/rankings/guaranteed/

The $65M signing bonus is $7.5M more than any other player in the league (Rodgers, $57.5M). It will be paid out as $30M in 2019, & $35M in 2020. Full Ranks: https://www.spotrac.com/nfl/rankings/signing-bonus/

Wilson’s 3-Year cash flow includes $35M in 2019, $88M through 2020, & $107M through 2021. The $88M 2-year cash is $6.1M more than 2nd place Rodgers, while the $107M 3-year pay is $4M more. Full Listing: https://www.spotrac.com/nfl/contracts/cumulative-cash/

 

Career Earnings

To date, Wilson has reeled in just over $74M across 7 NFL seasons (just $2.1M over his first three years). With $131M more almost certain to be made on this new deal, his future earnings should push over $205M after 2022, when he’ll be 33 years old. There’s a very good chance for another big payday in his future granted he stays healthy and productive. Full Earnings List: https://www.spotrac.com/nfl/rankings/earnings/

 

Analysis

With all the talk of “fully guaranteed” and “sliding contracts based on league cap percentages”, this is a really standard deal at the end of the day. What makes this contract stronger than most in structure is the signing bonus. A $65M signing bonus split into 5 equal cap figures ($13M for 2019-2023) adds significant dead cap to the end of this deal, making his roster spot over the next 3 years extremely secure, and a 4th year very secure. Seattle would’ve had to break their contract structure precedence to do a deal that more signifies a shift to a new generation (100% guaranteed base salaries, roster bonus incentives that raise the annual cash flow to match the rising league cap, etc…). They didn’t, and when it’s all said and done, it’s pretty hard to blame Russell Wilson and his camp for saying yes to $131M of practical guaranteed cash.