Once trade speculation such as Russell Wilson leaving the Seahawks gains momentum, it’s hard to quiet.
There is a way the Seattle could slam the door shut, however.
As laid out by the Tacoma News Tribune, if the Seahawks restructure Wilson’s contract to gain more salary-cap flexibility in 2021 and push money into future budgets, that accounting trick would further signal that he is not going anywhere.
The Seahawks already would incur an NFL-record $39 million dead cap charge by dealing Wilson under his current deal, which has three years and $69 million remaining. If his $19 million base salary is reduced and converted into bonus money, his 2022 and 2023 cap charges would increase by the amount restructured. This would result in the increase of his dead-cap charge, per the report.
When a player is traded, all prorated bonus money spread over the life of a contract immediately accelerates into the current year’s cap. So, a restructure and trade would end up costing the Seahawks more than $40 million against the $182.5 million cap just to not have their MVP-caliber quarterback on the roster. That’s before identifying his replacement.
The Seahawks do not need Wilson’s approval to restructure his contract because of a provision in the deal he signed in 2019 that allows the Seahawks to restructure base salary into bonus money for the purpose of salary-cap savings without his right to refuse. But, given the reportedly tenuous nature of the relationship right now, it is unlikely the Seahawks would do anything to cause further damage, so including Wilson on the team-building thought process could be seen as an olive branch.
Tom Brady and Patrick Mahomes just reworked their contracts in different ways with the same end-goal: to free up cap space for the team to field a better roster. Brady signed an extension with the Buccaneers that included “voidable years,” and the Chiefs converted Mahomes’ roster bonus into a signing bonus with the intent of spreading the $21 million cap charge over five years.
Neither of those quarterbacks is unhappy with their organization’s direction, however. Wilson reportedly feels limited by Seahawks coach Pete Carroll’s offensive philosophies, and he has openly vented about needing better blocking.
The Seahawks have about $17.1 million in cap space available, according to overthecap.com. If they create more, presumably that would make Wilson happier because it could be earmarked for improving the offensive line. He is on track to surpass Brett Favre as the most-sacked quarterback in NFL history.
Wilson wants to stay in Seattle and has a no-trade clause but would consider a deal to the Bears, Saints and Raiders, according to ESPN. The Cowboys were on the original list but have recommitted to Dak Prescott.