Russell Wilson‘s long-term status with the Seahawks has gotten extremely shaky. His short-term status has thus become murky. There’s one thing that can happen that would slam the door on talk of a Wilson trade in 2021.
As noted by Gregg Bell of the Tacoma News Tribune, the Seahawks have the contractual right to restructure Wilson’s contract in order to create cap space. The not-uncommon term (the Cowboys, for example, secured that right in Dak Prescott‘s new deal) allows the team to convert salary and other compensation into a signing bonus that would be spread over multiple years, reducing the current-year cap charge.
Wilson has a 2021 cap charge of $32 million. He has a $19 million salary this year, with another $13 million flowing from his 2019 signing bonus of $65 million. The Seahawks could drop Wilson’s cap number by reducing his salary to $1.075 million (the minimum for players with seven or more years of experience) and shifting the remaining $17.925 million into a signing bonus.
By spreading the bonus over the three years left on his contract, Wilson’s 2021 cap number would drop from $32 million to $20.05 million. (Adding a voidable year or two would drop it even farther than that; it’s unclear whether the right to restructure includes a right to add voidable years.)
Regardless of whether the Seahawks choose to kick the salary-cap can by restructuring Wilson’s deal (they’re currently more than $21 million under the 2021 cap), doing so would mean that he’s not being traded. Why would the Seahawks pay as much as $17.925 million in salary before sending him to a new team?
Unless the new team would be adding even more trade compensation in order to inherit Wilson at a minimum salary and cap number of $1.075 million, the Seahawks have no reason to pay Wilson another penny until it’s certain he won’t be traded. Thus, if/when a restructuring happens, the potential Wilson trade window moves to 2022, at the earliest.