Having played his leverage against his team perfectly, right up until his imposed deadline Monday night, Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson cashed in with a massive new contract making him the latest highest paid quarterback in the NFL. The question that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have with their own high priced prospect, Jameis Winston, is: how much did Wilson’s deal possibly cost them down the road?
The new-money average for Russell Wilson hits the $35 million per year barrier https://t.co/PG6D2wq0U2
— ProFootballTalk (@ProFootballTalk) April 16, 2019
Yes, the numbers have become so staggering for quarterbacks that you wonder what the ceiling is two years, much less five years, from now?
The fact that Wilson is now going to average $35 million dollars per season over the next 4 years has to have most teams and GMs that have young quarterbacks, like the Bucs, taking a big “Gulp” on a Tuesday morning.
In particular, Wilson getting a signing bonus of $65 million to be spread out over the deal, plus the largest guarantee for a QB ($107 million) has definitely raised the bar for any future lucrative deal.
First, you cannot compare Winston’s level of play or accomplishments to what Russell Wilson has done out West, as he led the Seahawks to the playoffs six of his seven years, and to the Superbowl twice with one victory. Say what you want about their defense, Seattle repeatedly has been in the playoffs because of Wilson playing at a high level and earning this deal.
Meanwhile, Winston has one winning season in four years and no playoff appearances. And there was much debate in 2018 with a coaching change clearly coming again, as to whether Winson would even be back with the Bucs?
And, it’s obvious that he’s going to have to play at a tremendous level to have any hope of getting the big bucks that Wilson got Monday night.
All of that laid out, here’s the situation: Winston is 25 years old and about to enter a critical fifth season as Tampa Bay’s franchise quarterback. GM Jason Licht already gave him a vote of confidence by picking up the 5th year option on his rookie contract that is valued at $21 million for this season.
Obviously, Winston is going to have one final opportunity to demonstrate that he deserves that long-term deal in Tampa Bay, and he has new head coach Bruce Arians, with a big resume of helping quarterback succeed, in his favor.
But, it’s also important to remember that the Glazer family, who own the Buccaneers, has never given a quarterback a second lucrative contract during their entire three decades tenure owning the team.
So you mix all of that together and you wonder now that if Winston begins to succeed this fall, what will it cost Tampa Bay to keep him for the long-term?
Sure, the Buccaneers could put a “franchise tag” on the former #1 overall pick but with the current quarterback average that would escalate from his $21 million one year situation in 2019 to probably something in the neighborhood of $30 million or more on a one-year deal for 2020.
And, that doesn’t take into account how much of the Bucs salary cap it will consume, just on a one-year basis, if it’s a franchise tag for next year.
Tampa Bay is currently still last in the NFL in salary cap cash at the moment with Winston making about $10 million less than that franchise average.
So, the big “if” is Winston actually succeeding on the field this season. And, if he does at a high level, then the debate and private conversations will heat up on him getting a new deal.
A long term new deal that will be at least in the neighborhood of what Wilson got Monday night.
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