When a big contract is finalized, plenty of reporters have plenty of details regarding plenty of aspects of the deal. We’ll use some of them as needed, but we usually wait to provide the full details until getting our eyes on the full contract.
The reasoning is simple: The deals are too complex, and it’s too easy for mistakes to be made. So we’d rather be the one to make the mistake, than to repeat someone else’s misinterpretation or clerical error.
Thus, here’s the full breakdown of the Russell Wilson contract, possibly including misinterpretations and/or clerical errors.
1. Signing bonus: $65 million.
2. 2019 base salary: $5 million, fully guaranteed.
3. 2020 base salary: $18 million, guaranteed for injury at signing and fully guaranteed on the fifth day of the 2020 waiver period.
4. 2021 base salary: $19 million, guaranteed for injury at signing and fully guaranteed on the fifth day of the 2021 waiver period.
5. 2022 roster bonus: $5 million, earned on the fifth day of the 2022 league year in March.
6. 2022 base salary: $19 million.
7. 2023 roster bonus: $5 million, earned on the fifth day of the 2023 league year in March.
8. 2023 base salary: $21 million.
That’s it. Simple, clean, clear.
The full guarantee of $70 million also matches the first-year payout, with rolling guarantees in 2020 and 2021 that start as injury-only but eventually become full guarantees. Those payments are, as a practical matter, fully guaranteed, because the only way that the Seahawks can avoid paying the full $107 million is by cutting Wilson prematurely, giving him $70 million for one year or $88 million for two.
The compromise (and, yes, there was a compromise) comes in the form of the 2022 and 2023 seasons, which entail a payout of $24 million and $26 million, respectively, amounts that could far below market value given potential spikes in the salary cap coming from a new labor deal, new TV deals, and the expansion of legalized gambling.
But Wilson quite possibly will be in line for a new contract in 2023, as he enters the final year of the current contract and approaches franchise-tag numbers that would give him considerable leverage over the team. If the Seahawks redo the deal with one year remaining (as they did for Wilson both in 2015 and five days ago), the final payout on Wilson’s third contract will be four years, $131 million — an average of $32.75 million per year and only $5.17 million less than he would have made by retaining the risk of injury and going year-to-year through 2022.