Asked about his future the day after the Seahawks' 2018 season came to an end, quarterback Russell Wilson said, "I love Seattle, it's a special place for me," and added that he hoped his long-term future would be with the team that selected him in the third round of the 2012 draft.
Early Tuesday morning, just a bit after midnight, Wilson announced to Seahawks fans that he was indeed sticking around well beyond 2019, which had been the final year on the deal he signed prior to the 2015 season.
"Hey Seattle, we got a deal," Wilson said on a video posted to Twitter. Wilson and his wife, Ciara, each added a "Go Hawks," and with that, Seahawks fans who had stayed up late hoping for good news could rest easily knowing the winningest quarterback in franchise history is now on his way to becoming the longest-tenured quarterback in franchise history as well.
"For me, for my family and for (agent) Mark (Rodgers), we love Seattle, and it's the place I want to be," Wilson said moments after signing the contract. "I've always wanted to be here. When I first got drafted in 2012, I wanted to be here forever. This helps solidify that. I've got many more years to go and a lot more winning to do—we've got more Super Bowls to win. I'm excited about that."
The contract, a four-year extension which was signed on Tuesday, runs through the 2023 season, which will be Wilson's 12th in an NFL career that has already seen him help take the Seahawks to previously unreached heights, including the team's first Super Bowl title and seven straight winning seasons, six of which saw the Seahawks win 10 or more games while reaching the postseason.
"I'm very excited for Russell and his family, as well as the entire Seahawks family," Seahawks general manager John Schneider said. "But most importantly, I'm excited for the 12s to have a quarterback of Russell's caliber for the next five years."
"We're all really pleased that we were able to take the next step to stay together and keep this moving," Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. "Russ has been a huge factor in everything that has happened, and this allows us to stay on track with continuing to push to find that consistency. Russell is a unique player, a unique competitor. It's rare the way he's just so consistently connected to competing and battling. To keep that factor as part of the program is just a real positive for our fans and for everyone. We're all fortunate to see this happen."
Wilson arrived in Seattle as a third-round pick in 2012 who few expected to compete for playing time as a rookie, but an impressive showing in rookie minicamp caused Carroll to declare that a three-man competition was on for the starting job. Wilson beat out veterans Matt Flynn and Tarvaris Jackson, and has been a huge part of the most successful run in franchise history ever since.
"I’ve got many more years to go and a lot more winning to do—we’ve got more Super Bowls to win." Russell Wilson
Wilson, 30, has been remarkably durable, starting every game of his NFL career, a seven-season stretch in which the Seahawks have made the playoffs six times, won three division titles, two NFC championships and one Super Bowl. Seattle's 75 regular-season victories since 2012 are the most for a starting quarterback in his first seven seasons in league history, and while wins are very much a team stat, quarterback play has a huge impact on games, which is why general manager John Schneider has been known to say that the two most important people in an NFL organization are the head coach and the quarterback.
"What has stood the test of time is his consistency," Carroll said. "The consistency of his extraordinary commitment to being as good as he can possibly be. He's trying to figure out at every turn how he can be a great player, and he has never wavered, he has never taken a step back from that at any time, never missed an opportunity to step up to the challenges in front of him, because he's always on ready. It has been remarkable to see it. It has been a thrill."
Wilson, whose 100.3 career passer rating trails only Aaron Rodgers in league history, already holds the team record for career touchdown passes (196), and he owns the single-season records for passing yards (4,219), touchdowns (35) and completions (353). Only Dan Marino (220) and Peyton Manning (216) threw more touchdown passes in their first seven seasons than Wilson.
And Wilson has been even better when it matters most, leading 27 fourth-quarter or overtime comeback victories in his career, tied for the most in the NFL since 2012. In 2017, Wilson set an NFL record with 19 fourth-quarter touchdown passes.
"The support from Jody Allen was huge. She was involved, and her support really allowed the guys to function at the level where they were able to get this done. That shouldn’t be missed, because she was really instrumental. She’s awesome, she really is." Pete Carroll
As is always the case with new contracts, especially for elite quarterbacks, this deal wasn't easy to get done, but Carroll credited the work of Schneider and vice president of football administration Matt Thomas for figuring out a way to keep Wilson in Seattle for years to come.
"Obviously this is a grand negotiation, and they had to figure it out," Carroll said. "They had to figure it out, it has all been a part of the plan—they've known it was coming for years. The fact that they were able to make it happen and connect with Russ on his plan to really commit his future to the organization and to the fans and all—he has done that—that all had to be orchestrated, and John and Matt did an extraordinary job."
Carroll also made a point to praise the role of Jody Allen, Trustee of the Paul G. Allen Trust and Chair of the Seahawks and Vulcan Inc., in the process of making a deal of this magnitude possible.
"The support from Jody Allen was huge," Carroll said. "She was involved, and her support really allowed the guys to function at the level where they were able to get this done. That shouldn't be missed, because she was really instrumental. She's awesome, she really is."
Wilson is coming off one of the best seasons of his career, throwing a franchise-record 35 touchdowns with just seven interceptions while posting a career-best 110.9 passer rating. And seeing as that came in his first season under new offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer, Carroll only expects to see Wilson improve going forward.
"I've always told you guys that he continues to grow and get better," Carroll said last month at the NFL annual meetings in Phoenix. "Russ made a big jump last year in terms of his awareness—it was due to Schotty and the way he was coached and expected to handle the front, what was going on in the running game and all the different change-ups that we like doing. Russ was really in command of all of that. He'll just continue to get better. I think the biggest jump will be between he and Schotty and their growth together. I think that will show up. He had a terrific season. He did a great job with us, he was healthy throughout, and we'll bring that back again with the guys we have up front coming back and the ability we have to run the football like we'll be committed to again. It just all adds to I think he's going to have a very dynamic year. We're really excited about coming back out."
Carroll noted that more was asked of Wilson than ever in 2018, and that the quarterback handled it very well.
"We called on him to control the running game more so," Carroll said. "Even more than ever, he's just so adept at pass protection stuff that that combination—we never asked him to do as much before, and he just totally embraced it and did really well. So that just expands his understanding and his sense for the game. He knows where everybody is. That's what happens, eventually these guys, the quarterbacks get so good that they can see everybody, they know what everybody is doing. He can tell you everybody's alignment and everything just by walking to the line of scrimmage."
And at a position where players have been thriving into their late 30s and early 40s, Wilson should only continue to improve with age and experience.
"It's an incredible amount that they can take in after years of being around it," Carroll said. "That's why it takes so long. You guys always would compare Russell to Peyton (Manning) and Aaron (Rodgers) back when he'd played four or five years and they'd been at 10 and 11 and 12. Those years, they are a benefit to those guys and so now he's getting into the realm where he's going to be able to take full advantage of every aspect of the game better than ever. He's already done it well, but better than ever."
In addition to being a Pro-Bowl quarterback on the field, Wilson has also become a big part of the community in the Pacific Northwest, making regular Tuesday visits to Seattle Children's Hospital ever since his rookie season. Wilson's Why Not You Foundation, which was founded in 2014 to "empower change in the world, one individual and one child at a time," has partnered with organizations like Strong Against Cancer, Treehouse, YouthCare, IslandWood, Friends of the Children and others to make a difference locally and beyond.