The deadline arrives in three days. If, as of April 15, the Seahawks and quarterback Russell Wilson haven’t worked out a new contract, what happens next?
One possibility, as casually tossed into the fray by Jack Del Rio on Monday, is that the Seahawks will decide against doing the year-to-year franchise-tag and trade Wilson, before the start of the 2019 regular season. Whether it would happen this year or next year (when holding his rights would entail a $30.34 million franchise tag), the philosophical question becomes whether the Seahawks would choose to give up a franchise quarterback in order to avoid devoting so much cap and cash space to a franchise quarterback.
Ever since the 2011 labor deal made it dramatically cheaper to pay high-end rookies quarterbacks than top-tier veterans, the possibility has been percolating of a team consciously saying “no thanks” when faced with the prospect of paying a healthy franchise quarterback. The Ravens became the first team to blink after the 2012 season, opting to making Joe Flacco the highest-paid quarterback in league history in lieu of applying the franchise tag and risking that someone would sign him in exchange for a pair of first-round draft picks. (Someone would have.)
That process continued, with teams finding ways to keep a quarterback they had drafted and developed in lieu of drafting and developing another one. It ended (sort of) when Washington paid franchise-tag money twice to Kirk Cousins and couldn’t/wouldn’t do it a third time, when his $24 million payday from 2017 would have spiked to more than $34 million for 2018. But Cousins isn’t really a franchise quarterback, which is why Washington wasn’t really interested in paying him big money on a long-term deal.