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Cory's Corner: Russell Wilson doesn't deserve top dollar

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Cory's Corner: Russell Wilson doesn't deserve top dollar

Russell Wilson has surpassed all expectations anyone has had for him.

Many thought the 5-foot-11 quarterback wouldn’t be able to see over the line of scrimmage and would be relegated to a career of clipboard holding.

Well, after three years, Wilson owns a 36-12 regular season record and a 6-2 playoff record with one Super Bowl title.

However, Wilson has a problem. He becomes an unrestricted free agent after next season. He has clearly outplayed the thrifty four-year $2.9 million contract, but that doesn’t mean he should be the highest paid player in the league.

You read that right. Wilson wants to be paid higher than Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady and Andrew Luck.

Even if Wilson completes that fateful shotgun pass to Ricardo Lockette, which was ultimately picked off by Malcolm Butler to seal the Super Bowl win, he doesn’t deserve to be the highest paid player in the league.

Joe Flacco didn’t deserve it after he won the Super Bowl and Wilson certainly doesn’t after failing to close it out.

This is going to read like it’s being typed on a green and gold keyboard, but Rodgers isn’t just the best quarterback in the game, he’s also the best player. And the reason is because of what you cannot quantify. He can file the minute things away in his mind only to recall those tiny details when it matters most.

Wilson has been assisted by a superior and bludgeoning defense for his entire career. It also helps that he’s got Marshawn Lynch in his backfield.

Granted, Wilson’s interception percentage has been 2.5 percent or lower but he hasn’t been expected to throw it much either. In 56 career games, he has attempted 30 or more passes just 15 times.

You just cannot give top dollar to someone that hasn’t proven it yet — and frankly he hasn’t had to. When the Seahawks start to lean on Wilson’s arm is when he can start to whisper that he should be the highest paid player in the league.

Right now with Seattle’s vice grips defense, Wilson knows that if he limits his mistakes, he’s more than likely going to win.

The term game manager has been used and abused over the years ever since Trent Dilfer started the “Just Do Enough Club” in 2001. But that’s what Wilson really is. He has enough speed to keep linebackers honest on the edge, but his throwing ability doesn’t really worry many guys in the secondary. The majority of ways he’s going to beat you is pre-snap. He’ll notice how a defensive back is playing or covering and that gives him the blueprint to win.

What he has going for him is that he plays the most important position in all of sports. However, his scrambling ability actually lowers his monetary value. He’s not worth anything to Seattle if he gets injured and the odds of getting hurt vastly increase if you tuck the ball and run as opposed to just stepping up and throwing in the pocket.

Even though Wilson is an off-the-field beacon for Seattle and its surrounding Pacific Northwest communities, the Seahawks cannot justify investing that kind of money in a quarterback that really isn’t the most valuable player on its own team.

That honor resides with Richard Sherman. His ability to take away half the field reminds me of Deion Sanders — with all of the audible fireworks to boot.

I don’t have a problem with Wilson asking to be the highest paid player. He just needs to understand how and why he’s been so good — and it’s not just because of him.

It’s one of the most complete franchises in the last three years.


Cory Jennerjohn is a graduate from UW-Oshkosh and has been in sports media for over 15 years. He was a co-host on "Clubhouse Live" and has also done various radio and TV work as well. He has written for newspapers, magazines and websites. He currently is a columnist for CHTV and also does various podcasts. He recently earned his Masters degree from the University of Iowa. He can be found on Twitter: @Coryjennerjohn

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (27) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

PackerAaron's picture
jeremyjjbrown's picture


Russell Wilson doesn't deserve top dollar, but he's going to get it. Which is a good thing for the Packers.

The TKstinator's picture

Mind reader.

D.D. Driver's picture


Also, keep in mind, Thompson took flack when he gave Rodgers his first big contract extension as well because Rodgers hadn't "proven enough" yet. Wilson has a much stronger resume at this point in his career than Rodgers did back then. Highest player in the league is tough to swallow, but when its all said and done, its also close to meaningless. It's 50% accounting trickery since no contracts are guaranteed and they are so full of various performance bonuses and the like than no one can actually predict what any given contract is actually "worth."

Dan Stodola's picture

Thompson took some flack for Rodgers' first contract, but it was actually a reasonable contract. When Rodgers signed it, the contemporary w/ similar career to date was Romo. Both had started less than a full season, Romo was signed the previous year I believe and Rodgers contract was on par w/ Romo's.

Wilson's resume is at best the same as Flacco's. You could make a case that Flacco's resume was better since he was elevating his level of play in the playoffs and doing more w/ less. Wilson has always been dependent on Lynch's running to help him win and has rarely had to win playoff games w/o that benefit.

Wilson clearly deserves a big contract and in my opinion get something close to Flacco, but in no way has he earned a contract that makes him the highest paid player in he NFL. 18-19 million seems like a fair number, no way should he get 22 mil and highest paid player in the NFL money.

Horse's picture

packeraaron is right
I sincerely hope the Seahawks pay him way more than anyone else. Way, way more. They won't, but a horse can dream.

croatpackfan's picture

Cory, you are right. The best argument for your conclusion is 4 interceptions Packers made in one game - NFC title game, with 44.25 QB rating...
Those games are where you earn your money. Russell, by me, did not earn it.

On the other hand I agree with packeraaron and Horse...

gr7070's picture

For starters, Rodgers is "only" the second best player in the league. Ignoring position value Watt is the best. Not that it actually matters any.

There are some bad arguments in this article, too.

It doesn't matter if Sherman is the best player. Positional value is incredibly important. Why even bring Sherman up? It's just bad writing, and exposes one's inability to make a decent argument.

Also, Wilson becoming a free agent is not a problem. That's a laughable statement.

We laud Rodgers for his pre-snap mental game, appropriately, but somehow that's a criticism in this article.

There's just so much wrong with this article. However, the general sentiment is correct; Wilson isn't worth the biggest contract. Wilson's considerable talent, position, free agency timing, and his defense may all conspire to provide it, though.

PackerAaron's picture

So bringing up Sherman is bad writing but your bringing up Watt is...a decisive insight into the human condition?

Make your points without being an asshole.

AgrippaLII's picture

Your own argument is weak. First AR is only second best player in the league ignoring position value...then you say position value is incredibly important. If you are the best player at the most highly valued position on the football field that makes you the best player in the league. I like JJ Watt but I'd rate any of the top 5 QB's ahead of him.

Since '61's picture

Cory - you are correct Wilson does not deserve top dollar and he is not the best player in the league. Our own Aaron Rodgers is the best player in the league, plus Andrew Luck, Tom Brady and even Seattle's Marshawn Lynch are better players than Wilson and we can all name several others as well. Having said that I agree with others here and I hope that Seattle pays him tons of money and blow up their cap for the next several seasons. That way when Seattle's other free agents leave because Seattle can no longer afford them we'll see what Wilson really is, a running QB who is not as good as RG3 when he RG3 was healthy. And we know what happened to RG3 without a solid defense or good supporting offensive players around him. I hope Seattle throws all kinds of money at him, the sooner the better. Thanks, Since '61

Tundraboy's picture

I just want the season to start already.

BRinMilwaukee's picture


Tundraboy's picture

And the more I read articles like this....

adambrymer's picture

Russell Wilson is certainly not my favorite player-personality nor does he shock me with "Wow" plays but I don't think his new contract will doom Seattle to being a mediocre or bad team (unfortunately).

Reality is that roughly 2/3 of the teams in the league would love to have Wilson as their QB1 -- even at an elite salary. He will probably get overpaid for a year or 2 but the salary cap will be consistently expanding for the foreseeable future.

Jay Hodgson's picture

I actually want the Seahawks to throw huge money at Wilson (but I agree with Cory that he doesn't deserve it). That way, they'll have to field a team like almost every NFL franchise--pay the quarterback a lot and try to fill in the roster with lower priced talent. By paying a quarterback minimum wage the last three years, they didn't have to make as many other roster compromises elsewhere. Now, they'll have to.

This is exactly why the Seahawks are stalling and making Wilson finish his rookie deal. They can have one more year of free lunch before they have to pay the Piper.

Things will get really interesting down the road when Graham, Wagner, and the Legion of Boom all want new deals. Can't keep them all.

marpag's picture

I think virtually everyone knows that Wilson isn't the best player in the league, or even the best QB, and does't deserve to be paid that way.

I think that virtually everyone also knows that it's called "Contract negotiating" ... which is synonymous with "Blowhards posturing and bluffing for effect."

Like others, I would be delighted if the Seahawks decided to mortgage their future on Wilson, but they won't. He'll get a contract that's in line with top shelf, top 5-10 type QBs, and the agents will spin the numbers based and the huge "total package," and people who know better will look at guaranteed money, and blah, blah, blah...

Tarynfor12's picture

Whether Wilson is 'worth' that money as a QB is an argument that has no end.What is at stake and ' worth' discussion is which team other than Seattle is willing to make him the highest paid 'player',which by that thinking is an absurdity that merits use of a once often used to the hand.

As long as the majority of what entails the NFL abides by the rule that the QB gets all or nearly all the credit for wins and the ridicule for the losses,some QB's will always be over paid and made the highest paid whether actually deserved or not because they 'touch' the ball on every snap regardless of who ever else contributes or to what ever level they do so.

As a Packer fan I don't care if Seattle pays him more than Rodgers or every one else.I just want my team to figure out how to stop or limit his type more consistently as in the first half of the NFCC game because the Packers have still to date,played a great part in allowing Wilson to seek such demand.

To aver he is undeserving of his asking by fans of a team who have never defeated him simply ignores another be the best one must beat the best.

Packer fans and writers alike should remember this before their outcry's of Wilson being ridiculous and unworthy of his demand as he has done what the rule has asked of him....Beat the Best. :)

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

Any way you slice it, Seattle will have to give a big raise to Wilson, and that will hurt them when his cap hit rises and Seattle tries to retain their other players. From GB's perspective, the bigger the raise the better for us from a competitive standpoint. Seattle should give a decent amount of it in guaranteed money, but with more incentives and a structure that does not destroy the team if he gets hurt (if Wilson will agree do it). There is little chance though that Seattle will let Wilson leave in FA, and therein lies the rub for their negotiating position.

GB has had some similar situations. TT was able to get good play from Tramon for a time and then Shields at a cheap price at a high value position. TT is getting pretty good play from Bakhtiari at a cheap price at a premium position and is getting great play from Linsley, though not at a premium position. It is called good drafting. When Seattle drafted Wilson in the 3rd round, it struck gold (or at least silver if you think Wilson is just a really good game manager).

AgrippaLII's picture

Of course he wants top money...they all do. For now it's great press...and will be until the story plays itself out. Though that might be a long time coming...because once he signs, the debate on whether he is worth it or not will continue.

NewNikeShoes's picture

Aight, this is my two cents.
I feel that the Seahawk offense is centered around Marshawn Lynch, and that Russel Wilson is the guy makes the defense also respect the pass. Its not unlike Eddie and Aaron, the only difference being that Eddie can function without Aaron(as seen in 2013), and Aaron can function without Eddie(obviously). They are both good players that make each other better. However, the problem with the Seahawks is that Lynch is a lot more respected than Russel Wilson, Wilson plays off of Lynch, and Lynch plays off himself. Think about this: who actually brought the Seahawks back in the game, Wilson or Lynch? Not Russel, as he threw 4 interceptions, but Lynch with his 2 tds and 157 rushing yards. Also remember, that without Russel, the Seahawks still went 7-9 and made the playoffs with Lynch as their sole good offensive player without a decent passer. Russel Wilson only took some of that stress away from Lynch, and made the team go 11-5, 13-3, 12-4.

Also note that if the Defense is not able to hold the opposing team to less than 30 points, Russel has not been able to win.

Well, for those of you who read my post, I congratulate you. I hope you guys can give me some feedback, and I wish you guys a great 4th of July.

NewNikeShoes's picture

When I said game, I meant the 2014 NFC Championship. My b

Chad Lundberg's picture

As much as I agree that Wilson is not worth top dollar, I hope that organization gives him every possible penny. They won't be retaining the kind of talent they've had for the last 2-3 years anymore.

Nick Perry's picture

Excellent Chad, I'd love to see Seattle to give him as much as possible. There's only so much to go around and Seattle keeps giving these defensive players huge contracts. Every Packers site I've been to the last few years have all said "Wait until Seattle has to pay Wilson top dollar". Well the time is now, the man wants to be paid and if they Franchise Tag him that will keep him another year and then what, tag him again? Pay the man and lets see what happens to Seattle's Cap Space then.

gbslapshot's picture

All I can say is the one year in Wisocnsin he was a winner like we may not see again. Since he has been at Seattle he has been nothing but a winner. You can't judge intangibles the way you can Jude's arm strength. The dude is a pure winner. Whether it is the way his teammates react to him (which it was in WI) or something else you just can't argue with a winner

J0hn Denver's Gavel's picture

Paying Wilson is good for the Packers. Losing Wilson is good for the Packers. Beating Wilson would also be good for the Packers. If Wilson takes a beating, this is also good for the Packers.

efox2011's picture

Cory made a number of good points. Agree with all of them. There were a couple of things that I will add, and one that will negate.

Wilson has played behind somewhere between a sub-par to abysmal offensive line since he's been in Seattle. This is a credit to Lynch's performance as well, but don't forget this with Wilson. At most, he's had two decent offensive lineman on the field at the same time (they are better than decent, but only two would qualify even as decent). As often, its only been Max Unger and 4 corpses Pete Carroll tries to pretend are o-linemen. It doesn't excuse Wilson's flaws, but it does tend to lead to him showing off his scrambling ability (the value of which is overrated).

The biggest reason Wilson doesn't deserve to be the highest-paid player in the league, or in that range, is because he is still mediocre as a passer. You still need to be able to make plays throwing from the pocket in the NFL, and he has not shown that he can consistently do this effectively. Guess where the height advantage is the biggest problem? In the pocket. It doesn't preclude him from being a great quarterback, see: Brees, Drew. However, Brees has also shown the passing skills, pocket awareness, and having-Sean-Payton-as-his-coach ability to overcome it. Wilson hasn't. He hasn't shown that you can make him the centerpiece of your offense.

Getting back to Wilson's scrambling. Cory's obviously right about the injury risk. It's also a hell of a lot less valuable than being able to throw strikes downfield. I'll harken back to an ESPN Insider piece by KC Joyner on this very topic. Wilson was #1 in the NFL last year in estimated points added from scrambling, by a lot. Add that with his EPA from passing, and you know what you get? An average quarterback. Even with the increased emphasis on mobility from quarterback prospects today, their value comes from passing. If your QB needs to run a lot to be successful, he probably sucks. Wilson is a notable exception.

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