Remember 2013? Remember how long ago that currently feels? I’m not sure that question makes any sense, but go with me on this one.
In 2013, everything was absolutely perfect. The Seahawks were winning games hand over fist, our favorite players were healthy (for the most part) and playing for peanuts (again, for the most part). We were the youngest team and the best team, which meant we’d have the opportunity – if we played our cards right – to be the best team for many years to come.
Not only all of that, but remember how much you loved each and every player and coach on the Seahawks? The rest of the league probably thought we were brash, or offensive, or just plain dicks, but we loved our Seahawks, and no one embodied the Us Against The World mentality more than the Seattle Seahawks and our legion of 12’s. The world was sick of us, but we couldn’t get enough (it didn’t hurt that Percy Harvin was injured for almost all of 2013).
Then, guys started getting paid. And for good reason! Because, good for them! They were unheralded, they played their asses off, and they got the reward that was waiting for them. Sure, we’d have to rework the books a bit, let some players go we’d otherwise rather keep around, but as long as we could keep the core in place, everything would be all right.
It’s hard to tell where most fans side when it comes to contract disputes. Most in the media tend to side with the players – get what you can while the getting’s good and all that, because nothing’s guaranteed in the NFL – but they have to be as objective as they can (while at the same time knowing that any contract dispute could mean weeks and weeks of articles writing themselves). The fans, in theory, should be siding with ownership, because any extra money going to a malcontent under contract who’s threatening to sit out actively hurts the organization by not having that money to use elsewhere to better the team. But, I suppose you have to take that on a case by case basis.
I’m pretty much always going to side with the team when it comes to contract disputes. I love that there aren’t fully-guaranteed contracts in the NFL, because I think you should be able to cut someone without much of a penalty if they start to slip in their production. Being forced to watch players dog it out there, well past their primes, because a team was foolish enough to over-pay for what a player did prior to his contract signing is a fucking travesty in sports. The NFL has a happy medium where, if you’re worth it, you’ll earn your full contract (or at least most of it). If you’re over-paid, you’re gone (as it should be). And, if you’re under-paid, then you have the option to ride that rollercoaster of holding out for more money. It happens. It’s not smart, because that player tends to get his legs cut off pretty quickly once Training Camp starts; daily fines and all that. But, it’s something that looms, a dark cloud that hangs over the team.
It’s only natural to want a totally harmonious locker room. But, that’s impossible when some guys are getting paid a ton, and other guys are getting nothing. You like to think those players making nothing will put their heads down and work even harder to EARN the money they think they deserve, but that’s not always the case.
I don’t remember many holdouts for the Seahawks – under the Pete Carroll/John Schneider regime – until Marshawn Lynch decided he wasn’t being paid enough commensurate to his production in our offense (and his role in our overall success). While I understand why players hold out, I’m still almost always going to be against it. But, when it comes to someone like Lynch, would I rather he get an extra million or two, or would I rather he retire and our team takes a bigger hit than we would have had we just paid him his money? Ultimately, I have no problem with how the whole Lynch ordeal turned out. He got a little bump in pay going into last season, then he re-worked his contract to get an even bigger bump this offseason. He still might not be long for this team, but for now things are stable. I’m willing to take it a year at a time and hold my breath about him staying or leaving. He’s Beastmode, for crying out loud! If I’m going to put up with shenanigans, it’s going to be Beastmode shenanigans.
Of late, there have been rumblings of Michael Bennett being dissatisfied with his most recent contract. He came here via free agency in 2013 under a VERY team-friendly 1-year deal. He turned out to be our very best defensive lineman that year as we won the Super Bowl, thus earning a hefty extension. That turned out to be a 4-year, $28.5 million deal, with $16 million of it guaranteed. He received an $8 million signing bonus, along with $2 million guaranteed last year. He also has a $6 million base salary in 2015 that’s fully guaranteed (hence, the $16 million). Essentially, after 2015, the team could cut him and save money.
Bennett goes into 2016 with a non-guaranteed $4 million base salary, along with a roster bonus of $1 million based on game participation. The team is looking at full cap hits of $7 million in 2016, and $9.5 million in 2017 (as his 2017 base salary jumps back up to $6 million, with a $1.5 million roster bonus).
When you look at his deal from a team standpoint, as things sit right now, Michael Bennett counts $8 million against our cap in 2015. That figure is tied for third-most on the team, behind only Richard Sherman (whose cap hit runs up to $12.2 million) and Marshawn Lynch (whose new cap hit lands at $8.5 million). Of course, since Bennett already got his signing bonus, he only looks to earn that $6 million in base salary. Compared to what some of the other 4-3 defensive ends are earning, I can see why Bennett feels he deserves more. Michael Bennett might not be leading the league in sacks anytime soon, but he’s certainly in the top 5 of most disruptive defensive linemen in the league. But, in 2015, he’s really not earning anywhere near what he’s worth.
Again, don’t get me wrong, I UNDERSTAND why these guys think this way. But, that doesn’t mean I have to agree with it. We’re all of ONE YEAR into his 4-year deal! He’s still going to earn a nice chunk of change, and if all goes well, I could even respect a guy trying to re-up his deal AFTER 2015. But right now? Really? With all this other shit going on, I’ve got to be worried about Michael Bennett?
Other shit like Bruce Irvin, for instance. He’s headed into the last year of his rookie deal. Recently, we all learned that the Seahawks would not be picking up his 2016 option at over $7 million. Sounds like a reasonable way to go. I’m not so sure his position or what he brings to his position is worth a 1-year, $7.8 million deal. After the 2015 season, I might look back at that statement and slap myself for being an idiot, but that’s the great thing about contract years: guys tend to ramp up their effort to lock themselves into the biggest deal possible.
It was all there. Either Bruce Irvin goes H.A.M. in 2015 and earns a knockout extension with the Seahawks, or he fails and either leaves or comes back on a much more team-friendly deal. Then, he had to go run his mouth recently while watching an Atlanta Hawks playoff game about how much he wants to be in Atlanta after his contract here ends. Truthfully, Bruce Irvin has done and said a lot of dumb shit over the years (on Twitter and whatnot), but I’ve always dismissed it because – for the most part – what he’s said or done hasn’t really hurt the team (adderall aside). Fans tend to blow these things out of proportion because they’re stuffy and white and long for the days of old where everything was stuffy and white.
That having been said, if Bruce Irvin doesn’t want to be here, more power to him. He’s not irreplaceable. In fact, we’ve got guys on this team RIGHT NOW who could step up and take over for him. He may one day turn out to be a dominant pass rushing force (and I tend to think that’s going to happen, as pure pass rushers tend to age pretty well), but if he wants to be a crybaby because his option year wasn’t picked up, then I don’t know what to tell him. I guess he should’ve done more to deserve it being picked up. I guess he should’ve been someone we could rely on (and not someone who’s one more adderall test gone wrong away from an even longer suspension).
You want that big money that makes you worth upwards of $8 million per year? Go out and earn it! Do what it takes to make a team WANT to pay you $8 million per year. This is your contact year, with a high-profile franchise; you’ll never have a better opportunity to show the world what you can do.
Because, at this point, with the way you constantly run your mouth, all you’re doing is actively hurting your chances. Do you think teams will be looking forward to dealing with the headaches that will come their way whenever you decide to run your mouth on Twitter? Do you think other GMs like to see the way you badmouth the team that brought you into this league – as a player most pundits felt was a huge reach to be taken in the middle of the first round? If you sign elsewhere, how long will it be before you’re badmouthing THAT team in a public forum?
You never had it as good as you’ve had it here in Seattle, with the coaching staff and the players around you. Don’t take it for granted, Irvin.
I’m going to close things on a bit of a controversial subject, but bear with me. The latest dispute has been just as public and looks just as ugly, depending on which reports are accurate: Russell Wilson’s contract extension.
It’s not that this process – Russell Wilson trying to maximize his earning potential – is making him unlikable, per se. But, for me anyway, it’s starting to chip away at the “I’m So Perfect” mystique. Obviously, I still want Russell Wilson here, and I want him to be a Seahawk until he decides to retire. But, do I think he deserves to make the most money of all the quarterbacks in the league? Not particularly. Going to the Super Bowl in two out of three years is pretty impressive, and winning one is something I’ll never forget, but why does he need to get all the money right now? He’s bound to have at least two or three more opportunities to re-work his deal and eventually get paid among the game’s best. But, can we not set the floor so high right now that it makes it impossible for this team to compete when he eventually reaches his ceiling?
I guess the bottom line is, I’d rather Russell Wilson didn’t play out his rookie deal. I’d rather get him locked into an extension now that provides him some semblance of financial security while at the same time allowing the team to take advantage of the cheapness of this final year to buy us a bit of a discount on the total cost of the contract. Let his NEXT contract extension be the one they write about in the history books. Let’s have this one just be a nice, happy pay-out for a guy who has been far and away the league’s best bargain – maybe in the history of the NFL (at least since the merger).
This post has primarily been about contract extensions, so I’ll cut it off here. But, I’ve got more I want to say about Russell Wilson a little later. It’s what I like to call Big Head Syndrome, and I fear our franchise quarterback may have finally caught it.