The sudden financial DANGERS of drafting a good quarterback
What happened to all those sweet "rookie QB contract savings"? Seaside Joe 1447
In January of 2013, shortly after being eliminated from the playoffs during his rookie season, Russell Wilson’s agent Bus Cook was in the news for reportedly asking the Seattle Seahawks for a new contract that offseason. This in spite of the fact that the NFL rules clearly dictate that players can’t be eligible for extensions until after three years…not one.
There were a number of people saying this is probably untrue given Cook’s extensive history as an NFL agent, and he called Ian Rapoport directly to express how upset he was with the report coming out.
And few things in life are as satisfying as Bus Cook getting angry, as evidenced by his response to client Brett Favre telling ESPN’s Ed Werder that he needed ankle surgery in 2010:
“Brett talked to goddamned Ed Werder at ESPN, says he needs ankle
surgery. Now why did he do that?” Cook asked. “I’ve got [Brad] Childress calling. I’ve got reporters calling all damn morning. Goddammit, why does he have to be such a goddamned drama queen? Play, don’t play, goddamn, people are getting sick of it. I’m getting sick of it!
“Why does he have to talk to these people? What good does it do? Ed Werder at ESPN! What’s he ever done for anybody other than say, ‘Look, look, Mommy, I got this first, ain’t I special?’ You got problems with surgery, talk to your wife. Why talk to goddamned Ed Werder?”
Whether there was any truth to the 2013 report or not, here’s what we know now that we couldn’t have known then: By the end of the year, Wilson would fire Cook in favor of his baseball agent Mark Rodgers. The pair have had a lucrative relationship since then, negotiating an $87.6 million extension in 2015 (the first year he actually was eligible), $140 million in 2019, and a trade to the Denver Broncos in 2022 that resulted in a $245 million extension.
The first two extensions were right on cue for Wilson’s earliest reasonable year to get a raise, while an impatient Wilson/Rodgers bucked trend and got a contract two years before he was due for free agency.
Seaside Joe is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.
Why not wait? Well, the price of a quarterback is going up even faster than the quarterbacks expected: Wilson’s previous APY of $35 million and $70 million guaranteed seems like a joke by today’s standard.
By the start of the 2021 season, Wilson was well behind Dak Prescott at $40 million APY/$95m fully guaranteed, Josh Allen at $43m/$100m, and Patrick Mahomes at $45m/rolling guarantees. Then the 2022 offseason became a game of follow the leader: Aaron Rodgers got $50m AAV on a new extension on March 15, Deshaun Watson got $46m AAV and a fully-guaranteed $230m on March 20, Matthew Stafford got $40m AAV on March 21, and Kyler Murray got $46.1m AAV and $103m fully guaranteed on July 21.
By the end August, Wilson’s $35m AAV would have ranked eighth in the NFL, but more importantly to him, over $10 million per year less than Rodgers, Murray, and Watson.
Though Wilson wouldn’t conduct a public holdout, it’s all too obvious that the Broncos had no leverage in negotiations: You don’t trade two firsts and two seconds for a rental. In Seattle, this leverage did not exist for Wilson: The Seahawks could tell him, “Stay at home then, we don’t care, we can trade you!”
So then that’s what happened: The Seahawks wouldn’t want to match the $45-$50 million annual price tag of other quarterbacks and Wilson didn’t have the leverage of a team having just paid a high price in draft capital for his services. With a trade, Wilson would get to choose a destination that had the cap space, the willingness, and the ownership that would be ready to shell out a contract NOW—not risking another year on the field after his tumultuous and uneven 2021 campaign—which is the most important thing that he got out of the trade.
It didn’t matter that Denver is in the same division as Patrick Mahomes and Justin Herbert. It didn’t matter that the Broncos supporting cast looked comparable or worse to Seattle’s. It didn’t matter that he was changing out Pete Carroll for Nathaniel Hackett…
The Seahawks weren’t going to negotiate a new contract.
The Broncos were going to negotiate a new contract.
Others may feel bitter about this and it shows in their posts or their tweets, but it doesn’t matter to me. I don’t judge others for how they choose to live their journey in this complicated reality that we’re forced to endure as long as they’re not impeding on others negatively; how could Wilson forcing a trade have hurt the Seahawks??