Russell Wilson: Legal Sports Bets Will Boost NFL Salary Cap
Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson, who was entering the final season of his current contract, seems to have landed the long-term deal he sought. But his thoughts on gambling’s impact on the NFL salary cap might reverberate long after the negotiations.
The five-time Pro Bowl selection reached an agreement on a deal with the Seahawks Tuesday morning worth $140 million over four years, according to ESPN. The agreement, through 2023, includes a record $65 million signing bonus.
Wilson sent out a tweet which indicated that he and his wife, singer Ciara, are pleased with the deal:
Wilson is due to make $17 million in 2019; he was looking to become one of the highest-paid quarterbacks in the league and for good reason. Wilson is one of the top passers in the NFL and is 75-36-1 as a starter.
However, Wilson went about his contract negotiations in a different way than most. The entire story is sure to be of interest to NFL betting enthusiasts.
Wilson Wanted a Contract Tied to Salary Cap
Instead of just looking for the most money or guaranteed money possible, Wilson was seeking a different type of deal. According to Peter King of NBC Sports, Wilson was searching for a deal that would increase his salary depending on the cap.
Wilson expects the cap to rise significantly in future years as legal sports betting becomes more popular.
Russell Wilson says the legalization of sports betting will increase the salary cap. Makes sense why he wants tie his new contract to the increasing salary cap. He sees 🤑 from sports betting. pic.twitter.com/Lt4IvqR5Nm— Warren Sharp (@SharpFootball) April 15, 2019
Wilson sought a deal which would have been the first NFL contract ever tied to the percentage of salary cap space. That ultimately didn’t happen.
However, entering negations, Wilson had the right idea. If and when sports betting become legalized across the United States, it will likely increase the cap.
How much could the salary cap raise once sports betting becomes more widely legalized? It's impossible to know for sure. The American Gambling Association believes that the NFL could stand to gain $4.2 billion dollars in revenue in a single year. Spread that over 32 teams and you are looking at roughly an extra $130 million per team.
That is quite the upgrade in revenue and possible cap space in the NFL.
NFL Salary Cap Already Rising Steadily
We also know that the cap has risen by at least $10 million in six straight seasons. Gambling revenue should only help increase that total and allow the cap to continue to raise each year. Would it be a complete shock if the salary cap jumped by $20 or $30 million in a single offseason? Not at all.
If that were to happen, you would see a massive change in contracts and a large number of the top-tier talent in the NFL requesting new deals. Within a year or two, the quarterback market would be turned upside down as new deals would surge beyond $40 million and perhaps $50 million per season.
QB Salaries Escalating Especially Quickly
Wilson understands how this process works. The new contract makes him the NFL’s highest-paid player by annual salary ($35 million) but that number will likely be topped multiple times, perhaps even by the end of 2019. Working a deal tied to the percentage of the cap would have let him continue to be one of the highest-paid quarterbacks in the NFL – a smart move on his part.
While Wilson ultimately did not get this type of deal, it will be fascinating to see if other quarterbacks around the league have a similar thought process. Could a Dak Prescott or Carson Wentz be the next to demand a contract based off the percentage of the cap?
Legalizing sports betting will likely have a major impact in the NFL and the way front offices deal with contracts. Look for many to follow Wilson's contract demands as the salary cap could rise significantly in the next few years.
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