There is a reason why we've labeled Russell Wilson's ongoing contract negotiations as one of the must-see events of the summer.
Couple a baseball agent dipping his toes into the NFL water with a quarterback that may or may not be one of the 10 best in football and a team that has found themselves rightfully skeptical, and you have yourself a potential blockbuster that could shake the NFL landscape in 2015 and beyond.
On Friday, Fox Sports' Mike Garafolo noted that Cam Newton's six-year, $118.47 million deal ($60 guaranteed) is in the neighborhood of what Seattle has been offering Wilson. Bleacher Report's Jason Cole added that Wilson wants to be the highest paid player in the NFL, and with a steadily-rising salary cap and quickly-closing window in Seattle, few would argue against his ambitions.
All of this jibes with what NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport noted a few weeks back. Wilson's agent, Mark Rodgers, isn't fooling around.
So while we wait for the fireworks, we decided to poll a number of NFL contract advisors to get their opinion on a simple question: Will Wilson end up getting a better deal than Cam Newton, and will it even be close?
A summation of their thoughts, which were provided under the request of anonymity, are as follows:
» It won't even be in the same universe. The interesting thing is that Wilson used to have the same agent Cam Newton did before parting ways. There is always a 'way things work' in every sport and perhaps Wilson's new agent hasn't been influenced by those hidden rules yet. Had he kept his old agent, would one domino have fallen right after the other?
» Wilson likely wants something in the $30 million per year range (six years, $180 million?), but is setting himself up for a floor that could provide a nice, soft landing at $25 million per year. Because of his two Super Bowl appearances (and one Super Bowl win) the guarantees in any eventual deal will be far closer to $100 million than Newton's despite the fact that, functionally, Wilson still raises some of the same concerns as a prospect coming out college as he does now. After Marshawn Lynch, will he be the same player?
» Wilson has all the leverage assuming Seattle needs him and doesn't see their system running functionally with anyone else. Why? In order to keep placing the franchise tag on Wilson, which Seattle would probably do on an exclusive basis so as not to expose Wilson to other teams, it would cost Seattle more in guarantees over three years than Newton received in five. Despite a rise in salary cap, Wilson's contract would eventually balloon to a point where it would be difficult to put a competitive team in place. Remember, franchise tag numbers rise every year and jump exponentially for teams applying them to the same player in consecutive seasons.
» It's interesting that there are a few very good teams on the verge of being great teams that would create one heck of a bidding war for Wilson should he hit the open market, giving Seattle little relief.
The poll question may not have been the right one. Of all the contract advisors polled for the story, the opinion was unanimous: Wilson will end up with a better deal than Newton.
The question is: How do you define better?
Wilson may have to wait three years for a version of this plan to succeed, but in that time the payoff could be astronomical.