AFRO Sports Desk Faceoff
By Stephen D. Riley and Perry Green
Special to the NNPA from the Afro-American Newspaper
After three consecutive postseason appearances and back-to-back Super Bowl visits, Seattle Seahawks’ signal caller Russell Wilson was in line for a big payday. The fourth-year quarterback has exceeded expectations from his third round draft position in 2012 to become one of the top playmakers in the NFL and he’ll now be paid like it. Wilson agreed to a four-year, $87 million contract extension from the Seahawks late last week, just as he was set to enter the final year of his rookie contract with a $3 million salary for the season. The deal represents the escalating contracts of the newer crop of young, franchise quarterbacks, such as Cam Newton, who signed a whopping five-year, $103 million contract in June. That group also includes the likes of Miami’s Ryan Tannehill, who re-signed for $96 million back in May. And while Indianapolis’ Andrew Luck waits in the wings for his newest deal, Wilson will vault immediately between Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers and Pittsburgh’s Ben Roethlisberger in contracts based on the yearly average. Despite a championship in 2014, Wilson doesn’t have the gaudy statistics and passing accolades which typically justify such high salaries. And since the Seahawks haven’t overly relied on Wilson’s arm to win games in years past, the question must be asked: Did Seattle overpay for their young signal caller? Stephen D. Riley and Perry Green of the AFRO Sports Desk debates the question.
Green: I remember critics blasting the Baltimore Ravens for giving signal caller Joe Flacco a six-year, $120 million deal because he didn’t have the blistering stats to partner with his Super Bowl trophy. My stance then was the same as it is now: If you’re an upcoming quarterback piloting a title team then you need to be paid like it. Stats can cloud production, and when it comes to Wilson, he just wins games. The Seahawks are banking on Wilson’s evolution to make their decision look like a wise one. But, even if Wilson never takes his game to the next level, at least we know where he’s at in his career now. I don’t care if my quarterback throws only 10 touchdowns a year and passes for 100 yards per game. If your signal caller comes up big in January then he needs to be paid like it.
Riley: Seattle’s dominance over the past several seasons has been fueled by their depth, their defense and their run game. Wilson has made some big plays over the course of his Seahawk career, but it’s been a team effort that has gotten Seattle to the next level. Paying Wilson such a lofty contract will severely limit the resources available for Seattle’s other talented players which will definitely have an impact on their roster. Seattle was in a tough position considering they obviously had to re-sign Wilson, but his success has been aided heavily by other important factors on that team.
Green: Teams evolve and Seattle will be forced to rely more on Wilson as the team grows older. Paying him now was just another investment into the ball club’s future. The salary cap won’t allow NFL teams to remain together for long. So, while a fast defense, a bruising offensive line and a star running back have all played major roles, they’re not roles that are designed to last as long as the part the quarterback plays in a franchise. Tom Brady and Peyton Manning are close to 40 years old and still going strong. Wilson, 26, has his whole career ahead of him, so locking him up now while the team tries to ration salaries throughout the roster only made sense.
Riley: Considering the role that Wilson played in both of Seattle’s Super Bowl seasons, I’m not so sure that his contract was justified. Just because he’s young doesn’t mean that gobs of money should be sunk into his future. Seattle can take a page from Baltimore, who graced Flacco with a huge contract back in 2013 and have finished third on their own division in consecutive seasons with an 18-14 record over that span. The Ravens had to reshuffle money to afford Flacco’s contract and that maneuver has cost them the team depth that helped them compile a three-year record of 34-14 between 2010 and 2012 to go along with their title trophy. Wilson was intent on coming out of the summer as one of the top paid quarterbacks in the league. He got his wish, and now it’s up to the Seahawks to try to work in his massive deal into everyday operations as the team attempts to return to the Super Bowl next season.