The Seattle Seahawks are not likely trading Russell Wilson this year. In fact, I am fairly certain that they won’t, even in the face of increasing levels of drama being played out in the media between the player and the team seemingly every other day now.
That said, it doesn’t mean that the Seahawks and Russell Wilson still don’t have a major problem staring them in the face. As certain as I am that he’s not going to be traded in 2021, I am equally certain that this relationship between the team and the player could escalate to the point of going nuclear if they don’t have some sort of honest sit down moment sometime soon.
This is a hugely critical point in time between the player and the team. Something needs to happen now, and here is why.
The drama being played out in the media is cancerous if not treated properly
Last week, I wrote a long winded piece in an attempt to articulate what I believed was really going on with Russell Wilson and the Seattle Seahawks. Essentially, I believe that Russ and his camp are unhappy with the Seahawks to the point of wanting out of town.
I don’t believe that it is hyperbole to talk about it that directly, either. If you study the tea leaves, it becomes pretty obvious.
The most recent recent drama involves one nationally syndicated Russell Wilson advocate, Colin Cowherd. On his FOX Sports sports talk show, Cowherd voiced his take of the Russell Wilson situation in Seattle. As I’ve mentioned before, Cowherd and Russell are tight, and Russell’s camp uses Cowherd to get their point across always. Whenever Russell isn’t happy, we hear it about from Cowherd.
Cowherd’s latest take on Russell is that his beef really just boils down to Pete Carroll. Cowherd started this segment out by saying that the star quarterback feels like he is stuck in a 1980’s style offense, but then he took it much further. He carried on saying that since former owner Paul Allen passed away, Pete Carroll has gained more control over the franchise than ever, has too much freedom to meddle player decisions, play calling, and that the situation has become too much of an imbalance of power.
To further hammer his point, Cowherd said that he heard from at least a couple other Seahawks that have shared a similar frustration with Carroll and his antiquated offensive. So there we have it. It’s not just Russ that feels this way, possibly DK Metcalf does, as well.
This is a bad situation brewing. The gravity of what Russ has now communicated through Cowherd is intense, and it is escalating into a dangerous territory quickly. Russell has been purposefully breaking Pete Carroll’s number one rule within the organization which is to “protect the team.” In two weeks time, he has done this twice.
As much as I don’t like to be hyperbolic with any takeaways, I find it difficult to downplay any of this. Therefore, I’m not going to do it. I’m just going to spell it out.
Breaking Rule Number One leads to a breakup between the player and team and here is why.
Rule Number One is the cornerstone rule of Pete Carroll. It is his foundational piece to which he builds and maintains an organization. Under this rule, it simply means that no player, or coach, or front office person is to go out and air any team grievances to the public. All grievances are always to be kept in-house.
If you follow Carroll in all of his press conferences, you can see just how careful he is about not throwing any players or coaches under the bus, even if it is obvious that maybe the quarterback throwing multiple interceptions cost them the game, or a defensive back who could not cover cost them it. Carroll is always protective, and is often willing to take on blame himself to protect players and play callers. He would rather awkwardly bumble his way through a response to a pointed question than lay blame on any individual, and has done this countless times in the past.
This number one rule is how Carroll builds his team culture, and it is how he protects it. Be your own person, but always protect the team. It’s his biggest demand for every individual.
Pete Carroll will give you a lot of leeway to be your own person, probably more so than any other Super Bowl winning coach, but once you start breaking Rule Number One, that probably means you’re punching your own ticket out. We’ve seen numerous examples of this, and a few of them from some of the team’s biggest stars.
A perfect example of this is Richard Sherman. Back in 2016, Sherman decided to start yelling at the offensive coach during a game when a pass play was called at the goal line. He went out of his mind, and had to be restrained by his own teammates. When questioned in the press, Sherm brought up the goal line play in Super Bowl XLIX and essentially said “we don’t ever need to see that type of play called again.”
When pressed about it further in another press conference a few days later, he took it much further and got combative with a reporter. The following off-season, he was on the trade block, and when the team couldn’t find a deal worth taking, they cut him the season after that.
They cut the biggest star of their legendary Legion Of Boom defense while still in his prime, and the guy who is known in Seattle for creating perhaps the biggest play in team history (“The Tip” in the 2014 NFC Championship game between the Seahawks and 49ers). Think about the weight of that. It was a stunning move for many fans.
But Richard Sherman broke Carroll’s first rule when he created a semi-brawl on the sidelines of that game, and he knew he was breaking it. Sherman also knew he was breaking Rule Number One in those back to back press conferences that followed. He was fed up, and ironically the reason why he was fed up was because he felt Russell Wilson was being catered to too much by the coaches, and Seattle was shifting away from its identity as a team.
Russell Wilson broke this rule last week when he started calling out his offensive line, and he broke it this week again when he called out Pete Carroll through Colin Cowherd. He knew he was breaking it both times. He is fed up and the reason why is that he feels like he is not being catered to enough by the head coach and organization (Hollywood couldn’t write this irony any better).
Russell Wilson is drawing a line in the sand with the same conviction that Richard Sherman once did even if he is going about it very differently. What he is essentially communicating to team owner Jody Allen is this; if things don’t change, it is either him, or it is Pete Carroll who needs to go. He does not want to continue playing ball under Pete Carroll under the present conditions.
News flash: Pete Carroll isn’t going anywhere anytime soon
For those who feel like it is Carroll who needs to leave, I would not hold my breath over that. Very recently, Allen has chosen to extend his contract through 2025, and then she chose to extend his partner, general manager John Schneider, through 2027. Russell Wilson’s contract runs through 2023. The tea leaves read pretty clearly.
If Allen was more on the side of Russell, she would not have offered those two individuals extensions that long in length. It is obvious that Jody has placed her faith in Carroll and Schneider, and I seriously doubt that she is going to fire Carroll simply because Russell isn’t happy about not cooking enough.
I’m also sure she’s more than aware of all the mini dramas that Russell and his agent have been cooking up over the years whenever they have been unhappy, and what their possible reactions would be towards these two extensions. If she is upset about anything, I’m going to guess she’s upset that they have chosen to be this outwardly public about it all, and are now breaking Rule Number One.
But this situation is what it now is. Russell Wilson is tossing the ball in their court.
How the team handles this now is vital to the present and future of this team. If I am Pete Carroll, and John Schneider, and Jody Allen, this is how I would handle the whole mess right now.
Be willing to meet more of Russell’s surface demands
Russ has stated very publicly what he wants in Seattle. He wants a better offensive line, he wants more up tempo to the offense, and he wants to have input on player acquisition. On top of that, he wants Pete Carroll to meddle less. Essentially, he wants to be Tom Brady in Tampa.
Cool. If I am Pete Carroll and John Schneider, I am going to take the position that if he wants to be more like Brady, he should give back some of his contract dollars to the team like Brady did in New England over the years so that they can afford to pay for better pieces around him. If that is a no-go between Russell and his agent, I would then say “well, we can only do so much, but we will try to do as best as we can to improve your offensive line this year.”
If they become insistent that they spend big dollars in free agency, I would point to the contracts on defensive side. I would say “okay, Russ. If you want Corey Linsley and Brandon Scherff in Seattle, it is going to be incredibly expensive, especially since you have let it be known how much you want your offensive line to be upgraded and their agents are now going to use that as leverage against us.. but if you want us to go there, that probably means moving on from Bobby Wagner, Carlos Dunlap, and Jarran Reed.. and understand that it is going to make it more difficult for us to keep improving our defense without those guys.”
If Russ and his agent say “tough,” I would take that on the chin and be prepared to trade my all-pro linebacker to get out of his contract, and I would be prepared to move on from some other expensive players on defense, as well, if they don’t agree to salary restructures.
In all honesty, it’s probably not a terrible idea to do this, anyways. Seattle has invested a lot in draft capital over the last few years in their defense with Jordyn Brooks, LJ Collier, Darrell Taylor, Marquise Blair, Alton Robinson, Cody Barton, Ugo Amadi and others. Perhaps it is time to turn the defense over to them more. Get cheaper, younger, and hungrier on defense, and get more experienced and talented on offense.
More importantly, if I am Pete Carroll, I would tell Russ that I am willing to concede more control of the offense to new coordinator Shane Waldron because I believe that this offense best fits Russ. I would follow that up by also saying that, while I am willing to be more patient, if we go through a losing stretch where I see that things clearly aren’t working, and our season is in danger, I hold the right to require adjustments as I see necessary.
That is a fair thing for Pete to say, and I think that is a fair middle ground for these two to get towards. Pete Carroll should not be forced to tank a season just so that Russ has more freedom to pass, but at the same time, Russ should have the luxury of knowing that when mistakes happen, the keys to the offense won’t be immediately taken away from him, either. This might be the most important middle ground that needs to be reached between these two.
If, for some reason, all of this is not enough for Russ, and his camp starts demanding a trade, I would hold the position that a trade in 2021 is incredibly cost prohibitive for our team, and therefore, it is a no-go. If that isn’t enough to satisfy Russ, and he is prepared to outwardly demand a trade, I would take this following measure to move the needle for him and his agent.
Here is the deal with Russell I would make if he is trying to force a trade now
I would offer to Russell that if all doesn’t go the way he wants it to during the 2021 season, we will look to deal him in 2022 when there will be an appropriate cost savings for the team to do so. I would simply ask that in exchange of this offer, no more public battles on the Colin Cowherd show and in any other media outlets. I would ask that if they have an grievances, they keep them all in-house for 2021. No more breaking Rule Number One.
I would stress that we will make our best effort to aggressively strengthen his offensive line, even if that takes away from the defense that we are trying to build back up, and we will be willing to allow him to have more input into that process within reason. I would also assure him that Carroll will work harder than ever to not step on the toes of his new offensive play-caller.
As I sit back and look at the bigger picture, I feel like this makes a lot practical sense. Let’s give 2021 with Shane Waldron coming in a chance. Let’s give the fan base a break from the drama. Let’s see where this all goes for a season.
Why I think this deal makes sense for Russell Wilson
From Russell’s perspective, I think this might be the type of agreement that he and his camp are actually angling for, anyways. I do believe it when Colin Cowherd says that Russ is tired of being coached by Pete Carroll.
Whether he is right or wrong, it doesn’t matter. He’s been in Seattle for nine seasons and he has seen how Carroll sticks his nose into the offense at times, and he knows how risk adverse he is. As much as Russ might like the potential of a Shane Waldron offense in Seattle, he has little reason to believe Carroll won’t ultimately meddle with it, and won’t demand that the training wheels be placed back on it when Russell throws a handful of interceptions and the team loses a game or two because of that.
As it stands right now in February in 2021, Russ might just want out right now, especially when he sees a fluid quarterback trade market and an opening for the starting job in New Orleans. He might view this as a rare opportunity to leave to a highly desirable spot now and not waste another season in Seattle falling short of his post season goals. It’s understandable for him to think that, especially as legacy driven as he is.
At the same time, it is implied pretty strongly through the media by former teammate Brandon Marshall that Russ doesn’t want to leave Seattle being viewed as a villain, and his legacy in Seattle is important to him. This is perhaps Seattle’s best leverage to buy a bit more time with him.
Having this deal in place allows for the remote possibility that things can still work for Russ in Seattle under Pete, if the Shane Waldron offense really takes off in 2021. If he has a great statistical year in 2021, and they actually do manage a deep playoff run, and he sees that Pete has given him and his play-caller more autonomy than in prior years, maybe that moves Russell to have a change of heart.
Maybe, deep down inside, this is just what Russell Wilson really wants; a way to make it work in Seattle. It’s just that he doesn’t see it with Carroll, and how the coach operates with his offense. Maybe he just needs one season to actually see it for himself.
I believe Russell when he says that, ideally, he would love to play all of his seasons in Seattle. I don’t fully buy into the notion that Ciara just wants out of Seattle. I think it’s more like, if Russ isn’t going to win another championship in Seattle, why would she want to be up here, if she can be in her home town of Dallas, or be in an entertainment hotbed like Vegas? Winning cures a lot of ills, and for Russell Wilson, it is clear that just getting to the post season yearly isn’t winning enough.
Probably more importantly to him is the simple fact that, with this deal in place, he can move on from this team and area without being vilified like Alex Rodriguez was decades ago, if he still wants out for whatever reason. Russell is hyper concerned about his imagine, and he likely doesn’t want to feel like all the work he has done in the Seattle community will become tarnished, if he leaves.
If he doesn’t have to outwardly demand a trade to eventually be dealt, he can have that imagine protected to a much better degree, and he can leave Seattle with a better standing. Essentially, he can leave like Griffey did instead of A-Rod.
That is likely a huge deal for him. I think that moves the needle.
Why I believe this deal would appeal to the team
First and foremost, this agreement will buys Seattle time to make things right with their star player. It gives them a drama free season to see how things go between Russell and Shane Waldron, and it give Pete Carroll a chance to resist sticking his nose into the play calls after Wilson gets picked off against the Rams.
Equally as important, though, it gives John Schneider proper time to set his team up for a different quarterback situation down road should Seattle chose to move on from Russ and his agent. This is a huge benefit for the club.
They could make moves through free agency and the draft to fortify their offensive line for years down the road. If Russ doesn’t want to be here in 2022, the next quarterback will inherit that better line (ironic, I know. I love irony).
This also buys John Schneider time to be able to hand pick his next starting quarterback, should they have to move on from Russell. If I am Jody Allen and Pete Carroll, I fully trust John’s ability to do just that. I think he is aces at it.
When he was in Green Bay, he was the one who had Aaron Rodgers as the top rated player coming out of the 2005 draft when Green Bay took him at pick 24 even though they had Brett Farve in his prime. Reportedly, it was John who banged the table loudest for him.
In 2012, it was John that had Russell Wilson graded as a first round talent even though the rest of the saw him as a mid rounder at best. It was also John who had to convince Pete Carroll for them to draft him in the third round, even though they had just signed Matt Flynn in free agency, and allegedly Carroll kind of preferred Kirk Cousins over Russell that year.
A few years ago, it was said that had Patrick Mahomes fell to Seattle’s pick in the first round, they would have taken him even with Russell on the roster, and it was rumored that in 2018, the team was considering trading Russell to Cleveland to take Josh Allen (what likely prompted Camp Russell to demand that no trade clause when their renewed in 2019). As much as we love Russ, I think we can all agree either Mahomes or Allen would look great in a Seattle Seahawk uniform today.
I think it can easily be said that if John Schneider has a year to prepare for life after Russ, that probably bodes well for Seattle down the road. Maybe there is a quarterback that he really likes already on an NFL roster that could be traded for. Maybe there in a player in the 2022 draft that they would feel good about once their team is a bit more fortified at other positions.
I’m no football expert, and I don’t pretend to be one, but I know enough to comfortably say that if John Schneider takes a quarterback early enough in the draft, or makes a significant trade for one, there’s probably a good reason for that, and we should give him the benefit of the doubt. Furthermore, I think it is likely that the team would willing to take that chance, if they needed to do that.
But to circle back to what they have with Russ, this agreement really just buys them time to see if it can still work out, and that might still be their number one goal in all of this. Ideally, they probably want to hang onto him for a few more years, and win another championship (or three) with him as their passer. Why wouldn’t you?
This is how I feel about this proposition
I love Russell Wilson as much as the next fan, and I love my Seattle Seahawks. I think this deal makes sense for both sides.
I am willing to bet that if Seattle actually commits significantly more resources into its offensive line at left guard and center, Russell Wilson might likely enjoy the best offensive line in his tenure in Seattle this season. This deal would place a big time urgency on the club to do just that, and if that proves to be the case, I think there would be very little holding Russell back from enjoying another winning season with some nice passing stats to back it up with, and maybe going further through the playoffs.
Even if they don’t make the Super Bowl, Russ could see a realistic path towards it again in Seattle, and that could persuade him to stick around longer. Maybe all he really needs to want to stay in Seattle is to actually see that path, and not feel like he is a part of a franchise that is just spinning its wheels in the mud every season.
I also think that this deal would incentivize Pete Carroll to actually give more autonomy to his new offensive coordinator and see what that brings. Maybe it opens his eyes to the notion that he can just be a CEO head coach in his remaining years in the league instead of feeling like he always has to be so hands on all the time. This is could be what Russell wants most, but it might be what Carroll really needs most as a coach.
From my own fan perspective, as I sit with this, I think it’s all fair, and whatever happens happens. Let the chips fall where they may.
If Seattle does go in a deep playoff run and Russell still wants out, I am also sort of at the stage where I would be fine with them moving on, to be honest. At the very least, I would be relieved that they would be removed of the drama that his agent loves to create whenever Russ feels unhappy. I would be perfectly happy to be removed from that as a fan.
I would also be more than a bit curious to see how John Schneider and Pete Carroll put the team together without that hyper expensive quarterback contract prohibiting them from spending more at other areas of the team. Maybe they get back to what is really Pete Carroll football. A defense that is talented enough to just rush with four dudes and plays great coverage, and a balanced offense that is talented enough throughout that the quarterback just has to be the distributor of the ball like a point guard in basketball.
That was the 2013 World Championship Seattle Seahawks. It wasn’t one player. It wasn’t Marshawn, or Richard, or Earl, or Russell. It was all of them with Kam, Golden, Doug, Max Unger, Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril, Brandon Mebane, Bobby, KJ, Okung, Bruce, and many, many others. The MVP of that Super Bowl was a backup linebacker. I would be fascinated to see if this team could get back to that.
The one thing that I know for certain is that place that Russell has gotten to with the team feels miserable, and it could only get worse. They have to do something. This, at the very least, feels like something that is very reasonable to do.
At the very least, this proposal buys them all time, and maybe just a bit more time is really all they need. It’s a wager that I am comfortable making.
This is what I would do, anyways.