The average football fan has been duped. Duped by social media, commercial America and the NFL itself that the position of quarterback, is the do all and end all of everything important in the game of football. Is the position important? Of course it is. It’s just as important as an left tackle, defensive end, wide receiver, cornerback etc . . . It’s been well documented how the NFL has modified it’s rules to help protect the quarterback while elevating the potential of a quarterback’s ability.
The Seahawks drafted quarterback Russell Wilson in the third round of the 2012 draft and have made a successful starting quarterback out of him. The Seahawks have constructed a roster the way many NFL teams only wish they could – by landing “gems” in the later rounds of the NFL draft. The only problem when doing that is, eventually – all those gems that were drafted come to the end of their rookie contracts and look to a big pay day when the time comes.
The quarterback market in the NFL is almost as lucrative as the Gold Rush of 1849. The narrative of “you need a quarterback to win in this league” is an overstated and overused one, which has some truth to it, but folks have gotten out of control with it. Look at the quarterbacks who have gotten huge contracts after winning a Super Bowl – Joe Flacco, Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, Eli Manning, Tom Brady and Russell Willson. Tom Brady – is on another level and not part of this discussion and Eli, for all the praise he gets, happened to be an average quarterback on a talented roster, so he was fortunate to get back to and win a second Super Bowl. . .
Joe Flacco, Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers have all had their own versions of “success” but they all have not returned to the big game although they are paid as if they get there every year. It’s common sense but it must be said – if you decide to pay a quarterback $20-$25 million a year – then as a general manager you have to find ways to cut corners with your roster.
This is why the Seahawks and Russell Wilson conundrum is an interesting one.
The Seahawks tote around one of the most talented rosters in the NFL, albeit mostly on the defensive side, but still – finding a hole in this roster is nearly impossible. Russell Wilson has been a direct beneficiary of this roster. Being the game manager he is, having a running back like Marshawn Lynch in his back pocket is one of the greatest resources any offense could ask for. Sure, the receivers on the Seahawks aren’t of Pro Bowl caliber, but what they are are blue-collared wideouts, who run routes well, block for the running game and aren’t afraid to put their bodies on the line for the sake of something like a three yard slant route. This defense is solid all around and they make up for three and outs, and bad field position like clockwork.
Is Russell Wilson terrible? No. He’s average. His stats go hand in hand with Alex Smith’s but the perception of the two is vastly different. Alex Smith was able to coax the Chiefs into a four year and nearly $70 million contract. That’s with minimal success over his career and no commercial appeal what-so-ever. Russell Wilson is on tv all the time and has been on a winning team since his entry to the league. At the end of it all, Russell Wilson wants $20 million a year (he enters this season in the final year of his rookie contract, with an expected salary of $1.5 million). Russell Wilson plays just as well as a guy who many were calling a “bust” a few years ago – and he wants $20 million a year.
Of course if you’re Russell Wilson, you should try to get paid as much as you can, while you can. Especially considering how mediocrity at the quarterback position is consistently overpaid : Alex Smith, Jay Cutler and now, Ryan Tannehill of the Miami Dolphins. The Tannehill contract showed the lunacy which ensues during quarterback contract talks. Miami Dolphins fans were actually happy with the fact that they overpaid for a player who’s ceiling of potential won’t get them into the playoffs.
Giving Russell Wilson the contract which is expected, will without a doubt start the decline of the Seattle Seahawks organization.
When will there ever be a general manager and coach combination that stands up for how good they are and tell a quarterback : “You know what, we’re good. We appreciate your time in this organization, but we know how to put a team together.”
You see, it’s not just Russell Wilson – it’s every quarterback. There are probably three quarterbacks in the NFL who are maybe worth $20 million a year because they have the ability to make everyone around them better. Those kind of quarterbacks are rare. Quarterbacks who throw for 20 touchdowns, 7 interceptions and 3400 yards in a season are quite abundant and need a team around them to have success.