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Sports >  Seattle Seahawks

Contract talks between Jamal Adams, Seahawks at a standstill; Russell Wilson willing to restructure his deal, per sources

Aug. 11, 2021 Updated Wed., Aug. 11, 2021 at 3:14 p.m.

Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson runs with the ball past pads during an NFL football practice in Renton, Wash., Wednesday, Aug. 11, 2021.  (Associated Press)
Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson runs with the ball past pads during an NFL football practice in Renton, Wash., Wednesday, Aug. 11, 2021. (Associated Press)
By Adam Jude and Bob Condotta Seattle Times

RENTON — Contract negotiations between Seahawks general manager John Schneider and representatives for Jamal Adams are at a standstill, sources with knowledge of the situation told The Seattle Times on Tuesday.

The two sides last week had come close to an agreement that would make Adams the highest-paid safety in the NFL. Talks then stalled over contract structure and guaranteed money.

The two sides have not reengaged in discussions this week, sources said, and both sides appear dug in.

Both Adams and veteran left tackle Duane Brown, who also wants a new contract, continued their hold-ins Tuesday on what was the 10th practice of Seahawks training camp and marked two weeks since the team reported.

Each player was present on the sidelines for practice but did not participate, as has been the case throughout camp.

More than a month remains before the first regular-season game Sept. 12 at Indianapolis, but the situation is getting urgent enough that sources said star quarterback Russell Wilson has let the team know he would be willing to restructure his contract to create cap space for Adams and Brown.

Seattle entered the day listed as having $8.3 million in cap space for the 2021 season. And while contracts with Adams and Brown could be structured in ways to create cap space for the 2021 season, restructuring Wilson’s contract — meaning, turn most of his $19 million salary for 2021 into a signing bonus — could give the team added flexibility.

In what were as candid as any comments Wilson has made about a teammate’s contract, Wilson said Sunday that “we’ve got to figure that out’’ and get Brown back on the field.

The team doesn’t technically need Wilson’s permission to restructure his contract — it’s written in the deal that the team can do so at any time. But it’s generally an accepted practice in the NFL for teams and players to agree on a restructure before one occurs.

Carroll said in the spring that the team has discussed with Wilson restructuring his deal if needed.

“We have talked about all of that, as we do every year,’’ Carroll said, adding, “It just hasn’t been necessary at this point.’’

If the team did restructure Wilson’s contract, it would turn $17.9 million of his $19 million salary for this season into a bonus. Players are generally amenable to restructures since Wilson would get that money immediately, instead of having it paid out over the course of the season (in fact, players now might have more motivation for such restructures since NFL players now receive their base salaries paid out over 36 weeks instead of over the 17 weeks of the season).

Converting salary into bonus allows a team to spread out the cap hit of the salary over the life of the contract. That means saving roughly $11.8 million in cap space for this year but adding that amount to Wilson’s cap hits for the 2022 and 2023 seasons.

While that would drop Wilson’s cap hit to just $20 million for 2021, it would increase his 2022 and 2023 cap hits by $5.9 million each year.

And that’s where things would get problematic for the Seahawks.

That would then increase Wilson’s cap hits to $42.9 million and $45.9 million in 2022 and 2023 from their current $37 million and $40 million, respectively.

And that would do two things — increase the potential franchise tag number for Wilson in 2024, an option the Seahawks might still like to have even if they’ve rarely used it, and increase what the starting point of any negotiations for Wilson would be for that season.

Essentially, adding cap hits to Wilson in those years would mean any negotiations for a new deal for Wilson — which would likely start following the 2022 season — would begin at more than $50 million a year for the 2024 season and beyond.

Maybe, given the way the QB market is going, that’s where they’d be anyway — Patrick Mahomes is currently the highest-paid player in the NFL at $45 million per year.

But the Seahawks have every reason to try to keep Wilson’s cap numbers as low as possible for now, especially with continued uncertainty about what the salary cap will be in future years.

While the cap historically has been pretty predictable in its increases each year, the lost revenue in 2020 because of the pandemic meant the cap went down this year from an expected $210 million to $182.5 million.

The league and the NFLPA have already agreed to a ceiling of $208.5 million in 2022, which as noted is less than what teams thought it would be in 2021, and which was the number that many teams negotiated contracts before the pandemic.

But it could be less, which is one reason why the Seahawks could be warier than ever about adding to future cap numbers.

And that, conversely, could be one reason the team might also be holding a hard line on potential bonus numbers for the 25-year-old Adams, whom the Seahawks acquired in a blockbuster deal with the New York Jets last summer.

Teams like the flexibility of salary over bonus because it can be renegotiated later for cap purposes. But bonuses, once agreed to, stay on the cap at that number and cannot be changed.

Seattle, of course, could approach Wilson about ripping up his current deal and giving him a new one.

But Wilson, who averages $35 million on his current deal, would likely want at least the $43 million that Buffalo recently gave Josh Allen, even if on a shorter term contract.

The Seahawks have acknowledged negotiating with Adams, who is seeking a contract worth $17-18 million per year, and likely over four years, the which has been Seattle’s standard length for second contracts.

The team, per sources, is not in active negotiations on a new deal for Brown, a four-time Pro Bowl selection.

Brown turns 36 at the end of the month and has battled a troublesome knee the past few years, limiting his practice time.

Even if the Seahawks could structure a contract for Brown that would decrease the $11.2 million of his cap hit that remains for this season, they might simply not want to add any cap hit for Brown in future years, seasons they might not be sure Brown would play.

Carroll’s answer Tuesday when asked about those contract negotiations certainly didn’t dispel the idea that the team might not have any plans to give him an extension.

“Nothing new is happening with that at this point,’’ Carroll said.

Things on the Brown front, though, figure to become clearer if and/or when Seattle completes a contract with Adams.

And while a deal could be struck with Adams at any time, as of Tuesday, it remains unclear when that time will come.

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