RENTON, Wash. -- As negotiations between Russell Wilson's agent and the Seattle Seahawks went down to the 11th hour Monday night, what helped pushed the deal through was the team agreeing to a no-trade clause that the quarterback's side had insisted upon.
"We talked about the idea of a no-trade clause just because we really wanted to be here," Wilson said Wednesday, echoing a point he made no fewer than 10 times during a news conference to formally announce his record contract extension. "That was the thing we were really excited about and that's kind of what sealed the deal for us."
Wilson spoke to reporters for the first time since the two sides narrowly made their midnight deadline by agreeing to a four-year, $140 million deal that makes him the highest-paid player in NFL history. It includes $107 million in guarantees and has an additional $6 million available in incentives, a source told ESPN. The $65 million signing bonus also is a record.
Wilson called Seattle "a special place" and "home for us" as he shot down the rumors that had surfaced while his future was in apparent limbo that he wanted to play elsewhere.
"The guys I've always admired in sports, the guys that played at [their] locations for 15 to 20 years, guys like Derek Jeter, I want to be like that," Wilson said. "I want to be remembered in that sense of what we want to do here in Seattle. So, we're just getting started."
Several dozen members of the organization packed the auditorium at the Virginia Mason Athletic Center for Wilson's news conference, including front-office types and teammates such as Bobby Wagner and Duane Brown. They cheered as Wilson and his family walked toward the podium, where the quarterback was flanked by general manager John Schneider and coach Pete Carroll. Afterward, Wilson swapped his navy blue suit top for a throwback Seattle SuperSonics jacket as he posed for pictures with his wife, Ciara, daughter and stepson.
"It's such a big day for us to look ahead, based on the great history we've had playing, coaching and working together, knowing we get another whole episode for our fans, for the organization and for Russell and his family too," Carroll said. "It's a really exciting day for us. We're really proud of it. He's happy to be here."
Wilson never got this type of celebration after either of his first two Seahawks contracts. The logistics of training camp got in the way when he signed his prior deal in 2015, and there wasn't the occasion when he arrived in Seattle as a third-round draft pick in 2012.
There was no guarantee there would even be a deal to celebrate this time around.
Wilson gave the Seahawks an unconventional deadline of April 15, wanting the situation resolved by the start of the offseason workout program after their 2015 negotiations had dragged on well into the summer.
"For me, and for everyone involved really -- the whole organization -- it was really more so of a, 'Hey, let's make sure we don't have to drag out this whole process,'" Wilson said. "Everybody writing, everybody talking, everybody speculating. These thoughts and this thought. Let's remain focused on what I really want: winning. Let's do everything we can to prepare in that way."
Schneider said the deadline made sense for both sides -- even though it meant he had to bounce back and forth between draft meetings and the negotiating table for four straight days once Wilson's agent Mark Rodgers arrived on Friday.
"Long weekend, yeah," Schneider said. "I mean, like Russ said, the April 15 deal for us was a good idea. The last one, quite frankly, took too long and took a lot of energy away from what we're supposed to be doing. We thought it was a good idea on their part and worked out for both sides, because we had to know what was going on, be able to clear our minds and be right.
"Our [scouts] are all upstairs right now. We're in the middle of draft meetings, draft preparations. We were doing that all weekend. Mark was here. He came Friday. We spent time with him there Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday, and we're just jumping in and out of meetings. But yeah, I think the clarity part was the biggest deal for everybody."
According to Rodgers, the deadline was real.
"A lot of people called it artificial," he told ESPN in a phone interview on Wednesday. "For us, it was real because it was real to Russell. It was important to Russell. And the Seahawks were really very cooperative."
But just like in 2015, there was still no deal as of 11 p.m. on the night of the deadline.
"The funny thing is, I called Mark at like 11:15," Wilson said. "I'm like, 'Hey, I think I'm going to go to sleep. I got practice in the morning. But if you call me, hopefully my phone is on loud enough to wake me.' Anyways, I get a call around 11:50 and it's Mark. He's like, 'Hey, we got a deal done.'"
Wilson then announced that to the world in a video he posted while lying next to Ciara in bed, which was spoofed the next day by teammates Tyler Lockett and D.J. Fluker. Lockett played the part of a shirtless and groggy-sounding Wilson as he repeated the now-famous line, "Hey Seattle, we got a deal." Fluker, the team's 350-pound right guard, then revealed his face from under the sheets and said, "Go Hawks!"
"Oh, I thought it was hilarious," Wilson said. "We came in here to work the next morning and we're in the offensive meeting and [coordinator Brian] Schottenheimer is going through all the plays and everything we're installing and he's says, 'Hey, I've got one thing I want to show you guys real fast.'"
Before all the joking and celebrating, there was a deal to finalize, which according to Rodgers required both sides making concessions. To name two of them: The Seahawks gave Wilson the massive signing bonus as a way to maintain club precedent of not fully guaranteeing money beyond the first year of a contract; and Wilson got the no-trade clause.
"It's been widely reported, but the no-trade provision was something that John's never done before," Rodgers said. "I knew that, but it was important for my client, because if you're going to commit the prime years of your life to a franchise and to a city, you want to make certain that the club is also committed to that. And you could tell they committed a lot of dollars to it, so they're committed. But that doesn't stop somebody who's maybe a team in the process of, maybe at some point down the road is rebuilding or decides to go a different direction, to trade you and all of the sudden what you signed up for, you're no longer getting the opportunity to do."
"I felt that it was significant for Russell to have it," Rodgers continued. "Understand too, he's got businesses, he's got interests, he's for friends, he's got associates, he's got people who work for him. They all live [in], work [in] and love Seattle. To all of the sudden maybe have that pulled out from under you would be difficult. John was open-minded about it, but it took some time, and he had to speak to some people about it. But at the end of the day, there were concessions on both sides, and that was a concession they were making to really cement the deal."
The extension ties Wilson to Seattle through his age-35 season, which would be his 12th in the NFL. He said his goal is to play 20 seasons, to which Carroll replied, "Me too."
"I know there was a lot of rumors about what we were asking for and what we wanted to do," Rodgers said. "At the end of the day -- and sometimes we lose track of this, I think, just in general in sports -- but sometimes you look the player in the eye and [ask], 'What do you really want?' And it was pretty evident pretty early on that his first choice and his strong, strong preference was to stay a Seahawk.
"He spoke about Derek Jeter today. I know what Derek Jeter means to him. I was there when he met Derek Jeter for the first time. Derek's somebody he looks up to because Derek was a Yankee for life. The idea of being a Seahawk for life would be an honor for him, and I think he treated it that way."