There is no secret that Russell Wilson had one of the best rookie seasons in NFL history. He didn’t shatter records, but he lead the Seahawks to the NFC Divisional Playoffs and almost singlehandedly revived Pete Carroll’s career in Seattle. But while his rookie season is over, Wilson is still fighting for something he wants — a new contract.
However, there’s a few things wrong with that, the main thing being Wilson legally can’t ask for a new contract under the new CBA, which is something he’s reportedly already done.
Right now, Wilson is locked into a three year rookie contract, which was structured under the new CBA. After the NFL lockout, one of the major changes made was how much rookies are paid. Salaries had become so massively inflated in the last 10 years, that teams had to seriously discuss whether or not they should hold onto their top pick because they weren’t sure they could afford to sign whoever they drafted.
What the CBA did was lower that rookie wage tremendously, and followed a system the NBA follows when it comes to rookie pay. In the NBA, a rookie is signed to a minimal deal, which locks them in for a period of three years. If, when the contract has expired, the player outplayed that rookie deal he can restructure it and make up the money he lost when he was still on the rookie pay scale.
The NFL makes rookies sign deeply discounted contracts that can’t be altered until the final year of the rookie contract has expired. Wilson has two years left on his deal, which means even though he could argue for a raise, he’s not getting one. Even if the Seahawks wanted to pay him and lock him up for longer than three years, they can’t — at least not now.
It’s a rule meant to curb the insane spending teams do on rookies, but we’re starting to see it’s downside. Michael Vick, a guy who barely played up to a tenth of what Wilson did this season, is likely going to get a deal north of the $10 million mark and others will get much more. To put it in perspective, Matt Flynn, a guy who made zero starts for the Seahawks in 2012 is set to make $7.2 million next season while Wilson payday for the entire year is $634,850.
Even if you earn more than your worth as an NFL rookie, you have to keep it up to get paid, as the NFL has seemingly eliminated the chance for rookie one-hit wonders to score big paydays. In this new era of the NFL, not only do you have to earn your money and literally pay your dues, but you have to do it consistently to be finically recognized.