Late Tuesday night, Seattle Seahawks fans sighed in relief when Russell Wilson announced that he and the Seahawks reached a deal. Russell Wilson will be staying in Seattle and is now the highest paid player in the NFL!
Wilson and the Seahawks entered into a four-year agreement with a $140 million extension and a $65 million bonus. Wilson will also receive a total of $107 million in total guarantees. These numbers are impressive and are well-deserved. Wilson has had an impressive career since entering the league in 2012. With two Super Bowl appearances, six playoff appearances, and five trips to the Pro-Bowl, it is no wonder the Seahawks wanted to keep him. After all, he is their franchise player who led the Seahawks to its first Lombardi Trophy in 2014.
Russel Wilson Made a Boss Move
While the numbers are impressive, the numbers are not the most impressive part of this deal. The most impressive part of the deal is the way that Russel Wilson made it happen. Wilson made it known to the Seahawks that he was willing to leave if he was not offered a satisfactory deal. Wilson entered negotiations with that understanding. He arbitrarily set an unofficial (as far as NFL rules are concerned) deadline of April 15. The Seahawks essentially had no choice but to comply or risk losing their franchise player at the end of the upcoming season.
Wilson Joins a New Wave of Players Who Know Their Worth
Wilson is not the first NFL player to show the league that he knows his worth. Recently, there has been a shift in the mindset of NFL players as they enter their contract negotiations. Football is a brutal sport with a high susceptibility to injuries. Unlike the NBA and MLB, NFL contracts are not riddled with guaranteed money. While NFL players sign huge million dollar deals, much of it is not guaranteed. NFL players have taken their cue from NBA and MLB players and have been unapologetically standing up for what they believe they are worth.
Last season, Le'Veon Bell set a precedent when he sat out the entire season because he and the Pittsburg Steelers could not come to agreeable contract terms. As a result, Bell has recently been traded to the New York Jets. Bell signed a $52.5 million four-year deal. $35 million of that is guaranteed. Similarly, Antonio Brown had a very public rift with the Pittsburg Steelers that resulted in Brown forcing a trade to the Oakland Raiders.
Both Bell and Brown did something that is not often done in the NFL. They stood up for their worth. Yes, Bell may have lost money by sitting out an entire season but he won in the end. Bell won by showing the NFL that he will not just be grateful for the opportunity to play because he knows his worth. Brown showed that he will not be forced to stay in an uncomfortable situation. Wilson's situation was not as contentious as Brown 's and Bell's. However, Wilson still showed that he knows his worth and that he is not afraid to play hardball to get it.
This is the Dawn of a New Contract Era in the NFL
As can be seen from Wilson, Bell, and Brown there is a growing shift amongst NFL players to realize and fight for their worth. NFL Players are slowly but surely starting to make the NFL realize it needs to be more player-centric. NFL players are finally starting to realize that they are the ones putting their bodies on the line every Sunday. As a result of that, they should have more say and more opportunities for guaranteed money in their contracts. The NFL better be ready to adjust. The number of players making demands similar to Wilson, Bell, and Brown is only going to increase.