Ru$$ell Gets Paid…..

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The Seahawks and Russell Wilson have agreed to a four-year contract extension worth nearly $22 million a year that makes Wilson the second-highest paid player in the NFL behind Aaron Rodgers.

Working on a self-imposed deadline, Wilson and the Seahawks seemed to compromise on a few points that made the deal work for both sides. While not all details are known just yet, we can generalize about some of the benefits for both parties in the contract.

MORE: NFL’s 25 highest-paid players | Ranking the NFL’s top 25 quarterbacks 

Why the Seahawks are happy

Seattle had nothing to gain by waiting this contract out. Prices are only going to rise and another Super Bowl or deep playoff run was only going to inflate the price. They have now locked in their most expensive player for the next four years and can build their roster accordingly around Wilson’s locked-in salary cap charges. This also takes the guesswork out of the equation in terms of available money when Seattle negotiates with their other pending free agents or those disgruntled with the current contracts looking for a raise.

Seattle didn’t set a market with this contract, which is a big win for them. Wilson will mark the first Super Bowl-winning quarterback in over a decade to not set the market on an extension. Ben Roethlisberger and Eli Manning set a market in their younger days. Drew Brees and Rodgers both did it, and so did Joe Flacco. Draft status likely plays a role in all of this, as the others were top-32 picks. Roethlisberger, Manning and Flacco, like Wilson, were not prolific passers when they signed record-setting contracts. Wilson could not duplicate that success at the negotiating table. At the end of the day, Wilson will earn $1.3 million less than Rodgers over the comparable four-year timeframe.

Seattle did not need to stray from their four-year contract philosophy. While having a quarterback signed longer term is always a good thing, Seattle may see benefits from this. Clearly, it sets a precedent for any other players to not seek more than four-year deals. This is consistent with recent extensions for Earl Thomas, Richard Sherman, Kam Chancellor, and others. It sets a clear framework for their next set of players, such as Russell Okung and Bobby Wagner, who are looking for new deals.

The way the NFL works with players often declining in the blink of an eye, you need to be able to churn your roster every few years. Adding more years to this contract likely would have meant more prorated money and difficulty managing the roster. For as much as Wilson is loved in Seattle, there are questions as to how great he can be. By keeping everyone on these four-year deals, the team can effectively turn over its roster every three years before cap troubles can really compromise the road to sustained success.

Why Russell Wilson is happy

According to SI’s Peter King, Wilson will receive a $31 million signing bonus as part of the contract. That is a massive number that was only exceeded by Rodgers ($35M) and Brees ($37M), and matched by Roethlisberger. That is a huge figure that virtually guarantees a large portion of the contract, regardless of any contractual guarantees. A bonus that high means the Seahawks would incur a $12.4 million charge against the salary cap if they release or trade Wilson in 2018, so it really locks him in for a long period of time.

The $31 million signing bonus also means that Wilson will earn at least $31.66 million this year, a massive $30 million raise in salary. That figure is almost unheard of in an extension for a player. The $30 million in new money over the initial term of his old contract will be on par with the $30.15 million Rodgers netted in 2013. It will be at least $10 million more than that earned by Cam Newton and Matt Ryan, two players considered comparable from a contractual perspective.

The contract is four years, meaning Wilson will reach free agency in 2020 — before the expiration of the current CBA. This is important because it prevents Wilson from potentially being impacted by rules that are designed to discourage extensions at the end of the CBA and also locks him in on the current CBA parameters rather than being impacted by possible changes in a new deal. Given how long quarterbacks play, this should give Wilson the chance to earn two more lucrative extensions if he continues to play well.

Brady to be Denied!!?

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The NFL is going to reject Tom Brady’s appeal and uphold the four-game suspension he is facing for his alleged role in Deflategate, according to one report.

Stephen A. Smith said on ESPN’s “First Take” Tuesday morning that a source told him Roger Goodell will not reduce or overturn Brady’s suspension. Perhaps more shocking, Smith cited a separate source who told him Brady actually destroyed his own personal cell phone rather than just refusing to turn it over.

We have known all along that the bigger issue here is Brady’s lack of cooperation during the Ted Wells investigation. The NFL was furious that Brady wouldn’t give up “relevant” text messages and emails that might help clarify his level of involvement — or lack thereof — in Patriots equipment managers allegedly letting air out of game balls.

Smith clarified that he was told by one source that the NFL is going stand by its four-game suspension within the next 24-48 hours, whereas the information about Brady destroying his cell phone was just “something I heard.” It was almost as if he was downplaying the information knowing how much of a bombshell the rumor was.

Reports in recent weeks have been all over the place regarding Brady’s appeal. There has been some indication that the two sides are working toward a settlement, though reports like this one make that seem unlikely.

If the NFL upholds the suspension, no one would be stunned. If someone can prove that Brady destroyed his cell phone, that would be tough for the New England Patriots quarterback to explain.

 

Russell’s Contract Situation

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The Seahawks have offered quarterback Russell Wilson a contract offer worth $21 million per year, according to Pro Football

Wilson is entering the final year of his rookie contract, which would pay him $1.54 million this season. With his new deal, the 2012 third-round pick from Wisconsin would be the NFL’s third-highest paid quarterback behind Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers ($22 million per season) and Pittsburgh’s Ben Roethlisberger ($21.85 million).

MORE: Highest-paid athletes | NFL’s richest players | Ranking the top 25 NFL quarterbacks

The Seahawks want to get a new deal in place before the team opens training camp on Thursday. Wilson has said he would play out the final year of his contract and has yet to agree to Seattle’s latest offer.

If the two sides cannot come to an agreement, Seattle does have the option of placing a franchise tag on Wilson next year, which would pay the quarterback who helped Seattle reach the last two Super Bowls more than $20 million for one season.

Over his three-year career, Wilson has thrown for 9,950 yards with 72 touchdowns and 26 interceptions while rushing for 14 touchdowns. If the report is true and Seattle is offering a pay raise of more than 2,000 percent more than his current salary, Wilson — and his agent Mark Rodgers — would be insane to not accept it.

 

Royals Add an Ace

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Days of speculation and anticipation and fretting about solving the Royals’ most glaring vulnerability ended Sunday afternoon with the acquisition of Cincinnati ace pitcher Johnny Cueto.

In one monumental burst arrived a harmonic convergence coinciding with a resurgence by Yordano Ventura that has ample potential to become the flashpoint we’ll look back at as when one of the best teams in baseball morphed into, in fact, the best.

It wasn’t just that the scoreboard in Kauffman Stadium’s center field trumpeted the trade for Cueto (in exchange for left-handed pitching prospects Brandon Finnegan, John Lamb and Cody Reed).

The power of the moment also was in the mystery leading up to the timing.

Premature reports about the Cueto trade remained publicly unvalidated by the principals involved – and thus subject to change – into early Sunday afternoon.

Which in turn led to another cycle of anxiety, in the filter-free world of social media … and beyond.

“He was coming – then he wasn’t,” said manager Ned Yost, who repeated the point for emphasis.

As late as just before the 1:10 game against Houston at Kauffman Stadium, Yost was told by general manager Dayton Moore that he wasn’t sure the deal would happen. In turn, he tried to tamp down excitement in the clubhouse about the apparent inevitability.

From Moore’s perspective, even when it was being reported as official, “the deal was far from done” until about 1:50 p.m. Central time.

That’s when Cincinnati general manager Walt Jocketty finally called and said, “We’re prepared to move forward at this point in time if you are.”

It was worth the wait.

 

Seahawks -Dolphins in Superbowl??

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And to think … for years, we were taught that Harvard was a school for smart kids.

A student at the school has developed a model for predicting the odds for each NFL team to make the 2015 playoffs, and his picks for the top teams in each league are both expected and shocking.

Kurt Ballard had his findings published on the Harvard College Sports Analysis Collective webpage. Here is how he got to the numbers for each team:

The method that I came up with uses Pro Football Reference’s Approximate Value statistic, the site’s best measure of trying to tease out individual talent. Then, using ESPN’s NFL depth charts, I aggregated each team’s per game approximate value of what I considered to be the ‘core’ makeup of an NFL team: QB, RB, 2 WR, TE, Top 2 OL, the Top-4 ‘Front Seven’ defensive players, and the Top-2 players from the secondary.

And what do his numbers show?

In the NFC, the two time conference champion Seattle Seahawks are again predicted to head to the Super Bowl, with a 95% chance of making the playoffs. That’s followed by the Green Bay Packers at 93%.

And the AFC? You might want to sit down for this one.

The Miami Dolphins … yes, those Miami Dolphins … are the predicted best team in the conference this season, with a 77% chance of making the playoffs. That’s followed by the Kansas City Chiefs at 66% and the defending Super Bowl champion New England Patriots at 62%.

The complete numbers can be found here.

 

Mike Holmgren Speaks on Wilson

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Former Seattle Seahawks head coach Mike Holmgren thinks Russell Wilson would be making a huge mistake to play out the 2015 NFL season under his current contract.

Wilson is set to earn just $1.5 million if he and the Seahawks don’t get a deal done before the start of training camp — a self-imposed deadline. Many have wondered if Seattle has been low-balling the young star quarterback — a notion Holmgren summarily dismissed in a recent appearance on The Erik Kuselias Show on NBC Sports Radio.

“I know this, without going into the numbers,” Holmgren said (h/t Pro Football Talk). “I know the Seahawks have not lowballed Russell Wilson … So I think it’s a fair deal, looking at it from an outsider looking in. I have no skin in the game but I just think — I think he should do this.”

Holmgren also hinted that the offer is likely in the five-year, $100 million range, and said Wilson turning down such an offer “doesn’t make any sense to me.”

Holmgren isn’t off his rocker.

If Wilson does play out the year under his current contract, and if he does suffer an unfortunate injury along the way, then he’ll undoubtedly lose out big time when it’s time to sit back down at the negotiating table next year.

No matter which team he’s speaking with.

Wilson is trying desperately to set a new precedent in the world of NFL contracts. He’s been reportedly trying to get paid like a free agent now, even though he is still under contract for another year. Unfortunately for him, he doesn’t have that kind of leverage.

The Seahawks technically can keep him under wraps for the next three years without giving him a long-term deal. Though it would be quite expensive by year three, Seattle can use the franchise tag to keep Wilson from signing with any other teams until the year 2018.

Wilson should listen to Holmgren.

He isn’t going to win this fight—not under the current CBA. Players don’t have the kind of power he’s trying to wield, and the Seahawks aren’t going to bat an eye calling him on his bluff.

Earl Thomas

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Earl Thomas won’t be ready for training camp and could miss Seattle’s Sept. 13 opener in St. Louis, according to ESPN.

Thomas underwent surgery in February to repair a torn labrum. The 26-year-old safety suffered the injury in the NFC Championship Game but still managed to play in the Super Bowl XLIX loss to the Patriots. 

Thomas has been selected to four Pro Bowls and named All-Pro three times through five NFL seasons.