Still plenty of ‘what ifs’ surrounding Russell Wilson contract saga

Russell Wilson intends to get paid and is prepared to play hard ball with the Seattle Seahawks in an effort to get what he feels he deserves.

It is difficult to argue with his stance.

Here is a man, three years into his NFL career, who has already re-written the record books with a franchise that had waited some 37 years for its day in the sun prior to his bursting onto the scene.

Super Bowl success in 2013 placed Wilson on a pedestal few others have occupied so fresh out of college, while a return to that grandest of stages in 2014 – regardless of that now infamous last play call – has only served to cement his standing in the very upper echelons of gridiron royalty.

Why, then, are the Seahawks not rewarding the prince of CenturyLink Field with a king’s ransom?

There are so many ‘what ifs’ surrounding the current contract standoff that it is difficult to tell who holds the strongest hand as poker faces aplenty appear around the negotiating table and in the wider public eye.

If the Seahawks expect Wilson to be their go-to man for the foreseeable future and see him as the face of their franchise post-2016 and beyond, then why aren’t they relenting in salary talks?

Yes, they will need to make the 26-year-old the highest-grossing performer in football, but is that not a gamble worth taking?

A large chunk of their salary cap will be eaten away should Wilson get what he wants – a bigger slice of the respective pie than Aaron Rodgers, Ben Roethlisberger et al – so movement would be required elsewhere in order to free up funds, and players coming off the back of successive Super Bowl appearances are unlikely to accept pay cuts in the knowledge that their worth will be recognised elsewhere.

For the Seahawks, though, the biggest ‘what if’ appears to be, what if they don’t meet Wilson’s demands, allow him to play out the final year of his rookie contract and slap a franchise tag on him at the end of the upcoming campaign?

What if he flounders in 2015? What if he gets injured? What if those customary darts out of the pocket suddenly turn him into trouble? What if the Legion of Boom become the Legion of Bust? What if the future talk becomes an unwelcome distraction? All of a sudden, the ball is back in the Seahawks’ court and compromises will need to be made.

For Wilson, though, what if his star continues to rise? What if he makes it to a third straight Super Bowl? What if he secures a second ring – a feat for which the Seahawks are generally at 9/2 in the NFL betting markets? What if the numbers – passing and rushing – go up again, for a fourth year in a row? What if he makes it abundantly clear that the side would not operate as it does without him at the helm, that he is the most important cog in Pete Carroll’s well-oiled machine? In that case, a few more dollars get added to an ever-growing price tag.

Can the Seahawks afford to take that risk, knowing full well what the repercussions will be on a financial and sporting level?

This is, of course, all conjecture for now, though. The biggest ‘what if’ – as Wilson continues to make it clear that no agreement by the start of training camp will result in a shelving of talks – is what if everyone put their egos to one side and wrapped this issue up once and for all before Friday’s deadline? Now wouldn’t that be the perfect way to end the summer and make a real statement of intent before the business of putting points on the board rather than bucks in bank accounts gets going.

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