The Seattle Seahawks are at or near the top of the NFL odds list for Super Bowl 50. But this happy family is already showing signs of falling apart, and money is the matter.
Life is good in the Emerald City. For three years in a row, the Seattle Seahawks were the top team in the NFL, according to the efficiency stats at Football Outsiders. The Seahawks won at least 11 games every season and reached the Super Bowl twice, winning their first title in 2013 and coming a yard short of doing it again last year. You can't ask for much more than that.
With most of their players coming back for 2016, the Seahawks were put right back on top of the NFL odds list for Super Bowl 50, opening as 11-2 favorites on the futures market at Bovada. But there's already trouble in paradise. At press time, Seattle has fallen to second place at 13-2, behind the Green Bay Packers at 6-1. And the 'Hawks haven't been acting like the happy family we've grown to love lately. The problem? Money, of course.
Pin Me, Pay Me
In a league where the salary cap drives teams toward mediocrity, the Seahawks have been able to maintain their mini-dynasty on the back of some very friendly contracts – none more friendly than QB Russell Wilson's. Seattle took Wilson in the third round (No. 75 overall) of the 2012 Draft and signed him to a four-year, $3-million contract. That turned out pretty well for the 'Hawks.
The clock is about to run out on that deal. The Seahawks would love to extend Wilson's contract and keep him from hitting the free-agent market, but he reportedly wants $110 million over five years – and Wilson says he's willing to play out the final year of his rookie deal if he doesn't get what he wants. Wilson even took out an insurance policy, just in case he gets hurt this year before he gets to cash in.
Mo' Money, Mo' Marshawn
This isn't Seattle's first contract rodeo. RB Marshawn Lynch signed a four-year, $30-million contract ($17 million guaranteed) in 2012, and even before Super Bowl XLIX, it was clear that Lynch was unhappy with his deal. He even floated the idea of retiring. The Seahawks were understandably concerned about paying big bucks to a 29-year-old running back, but they relented, signing Lynch to a new three-year, $31-million deal ($12M guaranteed).
There's more where that came from. LB Bruce Irvin was Seattle's first-round pick in 2012, and his four-year, $9.3-million rookie contract is also about to expire. There was a team option for a fifth year at $7.8 million; the 'Hawks decided not to pick up that option, and Irvin was none too pleased. He even said last month that he would be playing for his hometown Atlanta Falcons in 2016.
It could very well happen. Irvin's negotiations have taken a back seat to Wilson's, and the Seahawks are also trying to placate LB Bobby Wagner, whose four-year, $4.3-million rookie deal expires after this season. Wagner wants $10 million a year, which would make him the highest-paid inside linebacker in the league. Seattle seems willing to pay the price, too. Wagner made the Pro Bowl last year and has been nothing short of dominant in run coverage. Paying him $10 million annually is a lot easier to swallow than paying Wilson $20 million-plus.
Let's not forget about LT Russell Okung, Seattle's first pick (sixth overall) in the 2010 Draft. Okung signed a six-year, $48.5-million rookie deal and was largely worth it, making the Pro Bowl in 2012. But there hasn't been much talk of an extension; Okung has had some injury problems, and there's only so much money to go around. No wonder there's been all this rumbling and grumbling in Seattle. Will lower morale hurt the Seahawks this year? Maybe not, but thanks to the salary cap, the future beyond 2015 doesn't look so bright.