The Seattle Seahawks have enjoyed the perks of having a quarterback on a 3rd round rookie contract the past two seasons. That is, they never had to pick and choose superstars, they could afford to keep and pay them all.
The result: two consecutive Super Bowl appearances including a Super Bowl XLVIII victory over the Denver Broncos. Having that top two defense each of the past two seasons was the driving force behind all this success, and being able to retain players like Richard Sherman and Earl Thomas III had a lot to do with it.
That luxury ended this week when the Seahawks shelled out $87 million in a four-year extension to quarterback Russell Wilson and then $43 million over four-years to linebacker Bobby Wagner.
Wilson’s contract, which included a $31 million signing bonus, puts him amongst the richest players in NFL history, right below Aaron Rodgers and right above Ben Roethlisberger. Wagner’s contract on the other hand makes him the highest-paid middle linebacker in the league.
So the Seahawks are screwed, right? They can’t hand out any more big contracts thanks to Wilson’s large pockets. Everyone’s going to start leaving. Either they’ll lose everyone to free agency, or they will have to seriously remodel and cut half the team like the New Orleans Saints did this offseason, a few years after giving Drew Brees $100 million.
Well, not exactly. The Seahawks seem to have planned this out a lot better than some other teams. Much, much better.
Sure, they may lose a player here and there; but the critical components of this team’s success (i.e. the defensive stars and Marshawn Lynch) aren’t going anywhere.
The Seahawks may have to shell out the small amounts they can afford next season to keep Brandon Mebane, Russell Okung, and Bruce Irvin, but none of them will be receiving $10 million per season.
2017 will be even easier on Seattle’s pockets. Doug Baldwin may walk and they should probably do their best to keep Steven Hauschka in town, but that’s it. Once again, no Lynch, no Sherman, no Thomas, no big money going out.
2018 will be the first year that things will start to get tricky. This is when the Seahawks will either band together or split up the dynasty. Marshawn Lynch, Michael Bennett, Kam Chancellor, and newly-acquired Jimmy Graham will all be up for contracts. These guys are already making big bucks, so as long as no one wants a monstrous raise they should be fine. The salary cap will be raised up a bit by then anyways.
The Seahawks front office definitely deserves some credit. With the new Wagner and Wilson deals, everyone that the team needs to win is locked in with big contracts.
In other words, this team can win for as long as the players are willing to stay together.