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Russell Wilson’s cap number maxes out at $39 million

Mike Florio

The week began with the Seahawks and quarterback Russell Wilson engaged in a stare down. The week is ending with the dust fully settled on a new five-year, $157 million deal.

The contract has an average payout of $31.4 million over five years, but like many contracts the deal is structured to keep the cap numbers lower at first, higher later.

Spotrac.com has the full breakdown of the contract. Even with a payout of $70 million this year (up from $17 million under the prior deal), Wilson’s cap number increases by only $1 million, from $25.286 to $26.286 million.

Of course, the extra $43.714 million will hit the cap later. In 2020, the cap number moves to $31 million. In 2021, the cap number climbs to $32 million. In 2022, the cap number increases by another $5 million, to $37 million. In 2023, the last year of the deal, the cap number maxes out at $39 million.

The high cap number in the final year of the contract becomes important because it provides the starting point for the franchise tag in 2024. By rule (unless the new labor deal changes it), Wilson’s franchise tender would be $46.8 million. In 2025, the franchise tender would spike to $56.16 million.

Those numbers become important because, regardless of whether the market resides in four years, Wilson’s leverage his fourth contract will come from a two-year payout of nearly $103 million under the franchise tag, which equates to an average of nearly $51.5 million per year.