The Seattle Seahawks have enjoyed immense success under quarterback Russell Wilson, who went from an unheralded third-round pick in 2012 to an elite signal-caller and Super Bowl champion.
So why are there hints being dropped that Wilson’s time with the Seahawks could soon be ending?
Seattle’s current era of perpetual championship contention would come crashing to a halt even if Wilson were dealt away for a massive haul.
Russell Wilson trade rumors won’t die down after QB’s latest remarks
In an interview on The Dan Patrick Show, Wilson spoke about wanting more input in the Seahawks organization’s major decisions — and didn’t exactly shut down the recent trade buzz surrounding him, per Andrew Perloff:
This wouldn’t really be newsworthy if anyone but Wilson said it. Always the upbeat, seemingly indefatigably positive face of the Seahawks franchise, Wilson showed signs of a slight disenchantment with how things are playing out in Seattle in recent years.
The good news? Wilson will have a new offensive coordinator next season, which could help refresh what was a disappointing conclusion to the 2020 campaign for Wilson’s unit, as the Seattle defense picked up its play while the offense regressed.
Former Los Angeles Rams passing game coordinator Shane Waldron will take over play-calling duties for Wilson and the Seahawks’ explosive attack. It stands to reason he’ll want to be aggressive and capitalize on all the weapons Wilson has at his disposal such as receivers Tyler Lockett and DK Metcalf.
But with head coach Pete Carroll wanting to focus more on running the ball, and Seattle being criticized over the years for not letting Wilson air it out often enough, is there a divorce coming on the horizon?
Why on earth would the Seahawks execute a Russell Wilson trade?
Great question. Obviously it wouldn’t have anything to do with his on-field performance, barring a catastrophic drop-off in 2021. However, if another season goes by and the Seahawks don’t at least make it to the NFC Championship Game, it might cause enough friction at all levels of the organization to lead Wilson to demand a trade, or for the higher-ups to see the frayed relationships and part ways with him.
It really sounds crazy, yet look at what’s happening at the quarterback position around the league. There’s all kinds of context for why this might ultimately happen. And in case you weren’t aware, a column initially published on Christmas Eve by yours truly called the Jared Goff trade before anyone was talking about it. Some slight updates were made thereafter, but check it out below.
Speaking of said Goff trade, the Seahawks’ NFC West rival Rams recognized that they needed an upgrade under center, costs and Goff’s undeserved exorbitant contract be damned. They ate the dead money, shipped out multiple first-round picks and landed Matthew Stafford from the Detroit Lions.
This signals a shift in the previous paradigm of conserving cap space and prizing future draft picks to build long-term success. That classic acronym adage, “The NFL stands for Not For Long” applies to many coaches and executives as much as it does to players.
Seattle general manager John Schneider has a similar mindset to Rams GM Les Snead. He’s in it to win now, evident in his willingness to part with multiple first-rounders to land All-Pro safety Jamal Adams. The Seahawks have dealt Day 1 draft assets multiple times during Schneider’s tenure in the front office.
Trading Wilson isn’t exactly a “win-now” move, but if the 32-year-old realizes he can’t get over the hump with his current team, things could get uncomfortable really fast in the Emerald City.
The myriad draft picks and likely addition of at least one great veteran player would be reason enough for Seattle to pull off a Russell Wilson trade if tensions are running high.
How other superstar QBs impact a potential Russell Wilson trade
For even broader context, let’s look at Wilson’s peers around the NFL.
Reigning NFL MVP Aaron Rodgers saw the Green Bay Packers trade up in the first round of the 2020 draft to select his eventual replacement, Jordan Love. They didn’t address what was considered a lackluster receiving corps, nor did they make any significant additions to the flawed defense. Rodgers responded with the best year of his career, but the Packers fell short of the Super Bowl because of their unaddressed shortcomings.
You don’t think Rodgers is going to have a little more input going forward? If he doesn’t, he’ll force his way out of Green Bay, and Love will have seriously big shoes to fill. Even after the NFC title game, Rodgers didn’t really commit to his future with the Packers.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, the Deshaun Watson trade demand fiasco that’s engulfing the Houston Texans is a direct result of him not having more input on key decisions.
Given how dysfunctional Houston has been of late, and some of the boneheaded personnel moves the team made, maybe at least listening to what Watson has to say is a good way to go. Well, the Texans didn’t think so, and now Watson is trying to force his way out of town.
Which superstar quarterbacks do seem to have the most influence on their teams?
How about the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who just won Super Bowl LV. They signed Tom Brady as a free agent last offseason, and allowed TB12 to put his imprint on the team, and gave him input on playmakers to acquire such as Rob Gronkowski, Leonard Fournette and Antonio Brown.
Lo and behold: Gronk, Brown and Fournette accounted for all four of the Bucs’ touchdowns in their 31-9 romp over the Kansas City Chiefs. How did the New England Patriots and Bill Belichick do sans Brady in 2020? They went 7-9 and missed the playoffs.
Speaking of the Chiefs, though, they’ve secured Patrick Mahomes to an unprecedentedly long, lucrative contract already. It’s no secret Mahomes is the centerpiece of Kansas City’s future, and even though he can elevate the players around him like few can, what has the personnel department done lately?
The Chiefs drafted Mecole Hardman in 2019 despite the presence of an elite speedster in Tyreek Hill already in the receiving corps. They were proactive in securing stud tight end Travis Kelce to a four-year contract extension in 2020. Then, Kansas City selected tailback Clyde Edwards-Helaire in the first round of the 2020 draft. You can bet Mahomes had at least something to do with these decisions, whether directly or indirectly.
That’s called committing to your quarterback. Look what the Buffalo Bills did for Josh Allen: BOOM. Trade for Stefon Diggs. Big jump in Year 3 for the young quarterback. AFC Championship Game.
A Russell Wilson trade could happen if Seahawks don’t give QB input, protection
The conclusion here is pretty clear. What has Seattle really done to help Wilson out? The offensive line is a mess almost every single year — its No. 16 ranking in pass protection by Pro Football Focus in 2020 is the highest grade during Wilson’s time with the team.
Something else just leaked regarding this issue, courtesy of CBS Sports insider Jason La Canfora:
Courtesy of PFF Fantasy Football, look at some of the company Wilson kept this past season due to the lackluster players in the trenches:
Additionally, because of Carroll’s penchant for the rushing attack, many more resources are dedicated to running back than to providing Wilson with more receiving targets.
Every single Seahawks wideout Wilson has had the most success with during his tenure was a Day 2 or later draft pick. While that was the case with Hardman in Kansas City, as was stated before, the Chiefs already had “enough” receivers at the time Hardman was chosen.
Perhaps the most productive pass-catcher during Wilson’s career was Doug Baldwin, who was undrafted. The tight end position, with the exception of Jimmy Graham, has featured a bunch of unheralded players, or in the case of Graham and recently-retired Greg Olsen, star veterans who are no longer in their prime.
It took Tyler Lockett until his fourth season to really come into his own as a receiver, and it’s a testament to Schneider’s scouting and Wilson’s mentoring that DK Metcalf has popped off so quickly as a second-round pick in 2019.
Wilson has to feel at least a little underappreciated and slighted. He’s a good enough player to have multiple Super Bowls even at this relatively early point in his career. Seattle has squandered several years of his prime, with only one playoff win in the past four seasons — and part of it is due to his lack of input in the offense, or at least that’s what his latest comments suggest.
La Canfora floated some interesting possibilities as to who Wilson could team up with in the future, as far as coaches who’d indubitably cede ego and schematic control to Wilson’s extraordinary talents:
It’s really possible that Carroll and Wilson, despite many years and overall success together, could be in a power struggle that results in the quarterback leaving and the coach overseeing a much worse team. Just look what prepend with Brady and Belichick.
The silver lining here is that it’s a pretty simple fix. If Wilson feels more included in the Seahawks’ game planning, and the defense plays as well is it did down the stretch this past season, chances are, Seattle is due to get as close to a championship as it has in the past half-decade.
All that said, if Wilson is speaking publicly about being uncertain as to whether he’s available in a trade or not, and doesn’t feel more of the love soon with the Seahawks, he could be skipping out of Seattle before long to an organization willing to grant him more autonomy.
Player empowerment is a slippery slope, but by all accounts, Wilson has earned the right to wield the influence Brady and Mahomes have — and the power Watson, Rodgers and himself deserve.