Broncos will have to pay Russell Wilson huge money, eventually

Russell Wilson

Getty Images

The Seahawks wanted to trade Russell Wilson in part because they knew that, come 2023, they wouldn’t want to pay him again. Wilson knew it, too, from the moment his agent, Mark Rodgers, negotiated Wilson’s most recent deal, a $35 million per year contract that, at the time, set the bar for all NFL players.

The Seahawks never really played Wilson like a franchise quarterback, yet they paid him like one. At some point, they wouldn’t.

That point was now, one year before Wilson and Rodgers would have begun asking for a new deal. The acknowledgment by Seahawks GM John Schneider that they didn’t believe Wilson would sign another contract with the team represented an admission from Schneider that they wouldn’t be willing to once again make him the highest-paid player in league history.

That honor/privilege/burden will now fall to the Broncos. They’ll get to give Wilson a new market-setting deal, and then they’ll have to fit the contract under the cap. They’ll learn the realities of negotiating with a one-client agent who has no broader concerns potentially diminishing his zeal, such as whether a pissed-off GM will take it out on the agent’s other clients.

“We’re open,” Broncos GM George Paton told reporters on Friday regarding the possibility of a new deal for Wilson. “We obviously want him here for a long time, but nothing is imminent. I’m sure we will talk soon. We didn’t make this trade not to have him here for a very long time.”

Some would say that Paton shouldn’t be so candid, that doing so will only make it harder to get a contract done. But it’s already going to be hard.

Or maybe it’s going to be easy, because the Broncos have no basis for getting into a protracted back and forth. They targeted Wilson, they have relentlessly praised him, they gave up two first-round picks, two-second round picks, and three players to get him. When it comes to whether they’ll give him a contract a little bit (or a lot) better than the best contract on the books, why wouldn’t they?

The new Aaron Rodgers contract complicates matters, however. With a new-money average of $61.9 million, forget about the $46 million per year deal Deshaun Watson has signed in Cleveland. Mark Rodgers could eventually be looking for Aaron Rodgers money.

The sooner the Broncos do it, the cheaper it will be. With the cap rising and the market potentially exploding, it’s only going to cost more to make Wilson the highest-paid player as more deals are done. Of course, the sooner Wilson gets a new four-year extension (that’s what he has signed twice before), the sooner the Broncos will be on the clock for the next one.

There’s another reason to make it happen now. Eventually, the team will have a new owner. In the event the new owner may not want to make a huge financial commitment to Wilson, it’s better to make the huge financial commitment before an owner is in place to veto it.

Leave a Comment