Monday, March 16, 2009

Peterson Didn't Refuse Pay Cut

by: William P. Tomisser

Clare Farnsworth of the Seattle P-I has brought an assertion into the saga of the Julian Peterson trade that Peterson never refused to take a pay cut, as had been widely circulated as the reason Seattle made the trade. A team spokesperson has stated that the situation never got to the point where Peterson was asked to take a pay cut and the trade was initiated for other reasons. You can read Farnsworth's full article here.

Farnsworth stated that the deal wasn't initiated because of Peterson's refusal to take a pay cut, but because Seattle feared his skills were declining and they had been searching for a trade partner. The deal heated up when they found not only the trading partner and a player they felt could come in and help but also because Redding agreed to re-work his deal and the Seahawks could come out with a significant cap savings.

The deal was ignited not because Peterson, 30, declined to restructure the seven-year, $54 million contract he signed in 2006 -- as had been widely reported. But the deal was completed because Redding agreed to rework the seven-year, $49 million deal he got in July, one scheduled to pay him $25.6 million in base salaries, $14.5 million in workout bonuses and $3.675 million in roster bonuses.

To Continue . . .

This puts a different spin on the whole deal. It appears as if Ruskell might have decided that it was time to part ways with Peterson before his cost/benefit ratio got out of hand, and in fact it has been said in more than one place that Ruskell got rid of Peterson before his usefulness expired, not after. Right after the trade there was much speculation that Peterson had refused to take a pay cut, as many analysts including myself had thought he had been asked to do by the Seahawks. As Farnsworth reports,

First, word got out Friday that Peterson had declined the request to lower his base salary, but a team spokesman said Sunday the situation never got to that point. Then, in a Saturday morning report on by Alex Marvez, the connection was made between the Seahawks looking for a trade partner and the Lions' need for a linebacker with Peterson's skills.

It appears that Seattle had been looking for a trade partner due to their not wanting to have so much money invested in their linebackers and the fact that Peterson had a down year, which could have been attributed to the poor showing Seattle's defense made last season but also could have been an indication that his skills were eroding. If Farnsworth's correct in his assertions, then Peterson was going to be gone anyway.

When Peterson signed his contract, it was a 7 year deal but appeared to be loaded so that it would be a three year deal with a $23.5 million dollar payout over the first three years. The last four years were backloaded and it was apparent that the contract wasn't intended to be honored after the third year as written. In this, the fourth year, Peterson would have been the second highest paid Seahawk on the team had the contract terms been left in effect.

The anticipation was that Ruskell would ask Peterson to take a pay cut. Now, it seems possible that Ruskell intended to make this a three year deal and move on, particularly with his well-known penchant for finding linebackers in the lower rounds of the draft. This year there are some good draft candidates, plus we immediately re-signed D.D. Lewis and Lance Laury who, along with David Hawthorne and Will Herring, should provide a suitable replacement since Hill will be reassigned to be the pass rushing linebacker.

This looks to be another of Ruskell's plans that has been in the works for some time like the acquisition of Cole, going after Houshmandzadeh, and now finding a suitable trade for Peterson. Ruskell seems full of plans that he is methodically pulling the trigger on as the opportunities open up. What at first glance seems to be a spur of the moment decision turns out to be a well thought out action that has been in the works for some time.

Even if you've criticized Ruskell in the past, you've got to be impressed with how he is handling the team this offseason. He saved the team roughly $4.5 million on the Peterson trade, minus what Redding gets in his first year. The real question now becomes, is Ruskell done yet or are we still in for more goodies before the draft takes place at the end of April?


Bill T