Russell Wilson Earned His Huge Contract, On and Off the Field

Mike FreemanNFL National Lead WriterJuly 31, 2015

Tony Avelar/AP Images

Russell Wilson's new contract calls for him to be paid $21.9 million per season. Aaron Rodgers gets $22 million per season. This is the part where Wilson haters say he isn't worth it.

Oh, you'll see it. You'll hear it. My Twitter feed is full of Wilson haterade. Always. It is one of the stranger dynamics you will see in today's NFL—the number of people who want to take credit away from Wilson.

The excuses are aplenty. It's not Wilson; it's the defense. It's not Wilson; it's the running back. It's not Wilson; it's the fans. It's not Wilson; it's how the Earth rotates on its axis during Seahawks games that allows them to win. It's sunspots. It's Ciara. It's…it's…it's

No, Wilson isn't Rodgers. No one is. Rodgers, when he's done, will probably be the greatest quarterback of all time. That doesn't mean Wilson isn't special. Or worth the contract. Both can be true, and are.

What I love about the people in the Seattle front office is that they're not solely metrics geeks. There is an element of hardcore football scouting to them. The grinding. The eye test. The value they put on players who burn to win and want to be the best—two things that are not easily measured.

They gave Wilson Rodgers-type money because, while Wilson's talent level is high, his uncanny ability to win is almost unmatched. Yes, he has help. But to deny that he isn't sitting at the head of the Seahawks' winning table is asinine. This is a quarterback league, and Wilson is, you know, a quarterback.

The Elias Sports Bureau says he was the youngest quarterback to start two Super Bowls. In three years in the league, he has six playoff wins and is a stupid play call away from being 2-0 in the Super Bowl.

Running back Marshawn Lynch deserves a great deal of credit for what will be remembered as a dynastic run for the Seahawks, but many get it wrong when they say Lynch makes Wilson. In four seasons before Wilson came into his life, Lynch averaged 63.1 yards rushing a game and was 24-35. Since he began playing with Wilson, Lynch has averaged 86.5 yards a game and is 42-14. Wilson's stellar play at the position allows the offense to open up for Lynch.

Brynn Anderson/Associated Press

The numbers are staggering, actually. Fieldgulls.com put together a full list, but a lot of the stuff you already know. He is the only quarterback in history to throw for at least 300 yards and rush for 100 yards in a game. No quarterback has more fourth-quarter comebacks (10) or game-winning drives (15) in his first three years.

The biggest criticism of Wilson is that he can't throw the football accurately. Yet he's the first thrower in history with a passer rating of at least 95 in each of his first three years.

But I want to give you another metric that demonstrates Wilson's incredible value. It's the police blotter. He'll likely never be on it.

Yes, this counts. Think about the players who won't be on the field this year because they can't stay out of trouble. The list of players suspended for all or part of the season—guys like Josh Gordon, LaRon Landry, LeGarrette Blount, Le'Veon Bell, Greg Hardy, Tom Brady, Antonio Gates, Rolando McClain—reads like a Pro Bowl roster. These are not just scrubs. There are Hall of Famers on that list.

This week, John Mara, the classy co-owner of the Giants, said in a press conference that he doesn't know how many fingers one of his star players has, thanks to a fireworks accident over the Fourth of July. My guess: Wilson will never blow off a finger. Or two. Or however many. The only fireworks he'll make are with Ciara. One day.

No, this isn't about X's and O's. But in this, one of the saddest eras in NFL history, where seemingly every day a player is busted for crimes against man, woman, child or dog, Wilson's ambassadorship is still vital. The Seahawks don't have to give Wilson the Dez Bryant treatment, handing over the cash, crossing their fingers and hoping he doesn't implode.

Ted S. Warren/Associated Press

The Seahawks know they can trust Wilson. That is huge in today's sport. It cannot be overstated.

Because of his new contract, you will see the argument heat up again on if Wilson is worth it. Only the people who don't understand the true value of winning don't get it.

On the field, he is one of the top five most valuable players in the sport.

Off of it, his value as a good citizen, at a time when so many players aren't, is almost priceless.

Yeah, Russell Wilson is worth it. And then some.

 

Mike Freeman covers the NFL for Bleacher Report.