Bobby Wade is the most veteran receiver among the Vikings and accustomed to reading defenses, but the play from his own team last week surprised him. The Vikings approached Wade and asked him to take a pay of roughly 50 percent to stay with the team, despite him being the team's leading receiver each of the past two seasons.
"I would say shocked. It was a surprise, considering what happened in the past," said the team's leading receiver each of the last two seasons, "but it's a business and they have their ideas of things they want, and sometimes they don't fit. I don't feel like there would have been a problem for me to hit the market and have the opportunity to get picked up, but it was about a ‘want,' and my ‘want' was to play here and I'm willing to sacrifice that to have the opportunity to win the Super Bowl."
One detail made the move plausible for Wade. In return for slashing his pay, Wade will become an unrestricted free agent after the team. To him, that's what made the deal.
It was all about timing. The 2010 season will be an uncapped year if the NFL and the NFL Players Association don't come to an agreement to extend the collective bargaining agreement before the start of free agency next year. But it's not even the uncapped year that excited Wade the most about the possibilities next offseason. Instead, it was another provision of the current CBA reaching it final year.
If no extension is reached before 2010's free agency, players won't become free agents until after their sixth year in the league. Currently, players with four accredited seasons become unrestricted free agents when their contracts expire.
Wade will be one of the unrestricted ones.
"It's a great thing for an unrestricted free agent because the uncapped year means some of the guys that were going to be unrestricted free agents aren't going to have that opportunity, so it lessens the field. It gives you the opportunity to maybe get some more money, whatever the difference may be," he said. "My big deal is just about playing on a good football team. I just want to play on a winning football team. I've played on teams that are struggling. In my career, I want to play on a winning team."
Wade signed a five-year contract in 2007 and was scheduled to make $2.95 million this year. Combined with his $2 million signing bonus and other bonuses, his cap number was going to be $3.4 million, as it would have been in 2010 and 2011, which were scheduled to be the final seasons of his contract.
Even so, the Vikings didn't approach him with a take-it-or-be-cut attitude, he said.
"Not necessarily. It wasn't presented that way at all from the very beginning. It was just trying to find a happy medium between the wants that they had, the needs that they had and also some wants and needs that I didn't even know I had until I evaluated it, so I'm really excited. I feel really good about it; my family is really happy about it."
It may be hard to imagine that Wade would be happy about cutting his salary in half, but that was his mantra and explained his rationale.
"Just the opportunity. As you get later in your career, you want the opportunity to see how the market grows, especially how I've been performing the last two years. Hopefully it works out the way you anticipate it to work out. You play well this year, go deep into the playoffs and then you have the opportunity to hit the market next year," he said.
"It was an opportunity that presented itself. I'm really happy with it, extremely happy with it. It gives me the chance to play here first and foremost this year. It gives me the opportunity to play with this team, hopefully win the Super Bowl. It also gives me the opportunity to hit the market next year, which is a good deal for me, considering the time frame, opportunity, how things have been performing. And hopefully I'll be able to perform this year and it will give me a good opportunity."
Who knows? That opportunity might even end up being with the Vikings again next year under a new contract. Wade said that is actually a possibility.
"No doubt. That was one of the requirements, something that needed to be discussed," he said. "I wanted that option because I really like it here. It's a great fit, but we'll see how it works next year in the free-agent market."
Wade explains contract strategy
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