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Should Russell Wilson Become the Highest-Paid Quarterback in the NFL?

Russell Wilson

Russell Wilson

The Seattle Seahawks are set to open training camp on July 31 and Russell Wilson is still not signed to a contract extension. So the question is – will this be the beginning of the end for Wilson in a Seattle uniform and is it time to panic if you are a Seahawks fan?

Related: Seattle Seahawks 2015 Team Preview and Prediction

This will not be the beginning of the end of Wilson in a Seahawks uniform if head coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider don’t want it to be. With the ability to use a franchise tag on Wilson for the ‘16 and ‘17 seasons, respectively, time is still on the Seahawks side. However, the elephant in the room in this saga is Mark Rodgers, Wilson’s agent.

Rodgers, who has an extensive background in baseball, appears to have to look of a person who has one single goal — to make a name for himself as a football agent and do everything in his power to get Wilson to free agency in 2018. The benefit for Rodgers of getting Wilson to free agency is that the salary cap should be high enough to be able to get Wilson well over $30 million per season.

The risk is that if Rodgers doesn’t get his client signed to a long-term deal sooner, any sort of injury could have even larger ramifications. Along these lines, the argument could be made that the potential of Wilson getting hurt is higher risk heading into the 2015 season because the Seahawks will have a bit of a reloaded offensive line.

There’s little debate that Wilson has done more than enough to earn a long-term contract extension, but does he deserve to be paid more than guys like two-time NFL MVP Aaron Rodgers? Absolutely not. Despite finding a way to win last season’s NFC Championship Game against the Packers, Wilson’s statistics were not pretty, as he completed less than 50 percent of his passes and threw four interceptions. If it wasn’t for the defense and a timely onside kick recovery by Chris Matthews,  a return trip to the Super Bowl would never have happened.

And there’s also the infamous play in the Super Bowl, where Marshawn Lynch did not get the ball as Wilson threw the game-clinching interception that cost Seattle a second consecutive Super Bowl. The question has to be asked does an elite quarterback like Rodgers or Tom Brady find a way to avoid the interception with either an incomplete pass or a touchdown? Yes. Even though the play call itself at the one-yard-line was inexplicable to begin with, Wilson still has to find a way to avoid the interception if he is truly worthy of being paid as the top quarterback in football.

Having said that if you give Wilson a contract in the range of approximately $105-110 million over five years with about $54-60 million guaranteed you should be able to protect yourself if you are the Seahawks while also being able to keep most of the core together. Anything more than that, even with the projected future increases in the salary cap, will be pushing it too far. When you have your guy at quarterback in the NFL the goal should always be to pay him well, but don’t be reckless.

Thus, for the Seahawks that means doing everything possible to put together a deal that pays Wilson at a high level but is not a team-crippling contract three or four years from now. If Seattle can stay disciplined in these negotiations with Wilson and get a deal done, it will set the franchise up very nicely for years to come to be a regular playoff and Super Bowl contender, as long as the Seahawks continue to draft well.

— Written by Scott Whittum, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and also writes for College Sports Madness, covering college football, basketball, softball and baseball.