This is the one piece written by me that will explore a Russell Wilson trade scenario. Until an actual trade happens, anything else I write about this team will be with the mindset that Russell Wilson is a Seattle Seahawk until he is not one.
Let me start by saying that I don’t want the Seattle Seahawks to trade Russell Wilson. I believe that Seattle should try to figure out a way to make it work out between Russ and Pete Carroll.
That said, I think it is important to note that we don’t always get what what want in life, or sports. Every time that I think they won’t trade Russell Wilson, things float out through the press that make me think that perhaps they will, and they might do it this off-season if the right deal is presented.
I think that could happen easier than many think, and the idea that this $39 million cap hit in 2021 has already been dispelled a bit by those who understand NFL salary cap much better than myself. Seattle could trade Russ now, and restructure a few salaries, and they could absorb the financial hit fairly seamlessly without cutting a bunch of players, and in 2022, they would have a ton of cap space available.
A few weeks ago, I didn’t think there was much chance for any trade this off-season happening, but with news coming out that acquiring Russell Wilson is priority number one for the Chicago Bears, that raised my eyebrows. If they really want him, eventually they could come in with an offer that Seattle would have a hard time refusing, especially if there is another team pursuing a trade for him (which now there sounds like there is). I think it is perhaps now time to start acknowledging that a perfect storm for this could be brewing.
The Chicago Bears are reportedly “all in” on acquiring Russ this off-season, and that’s a big deal
Of the four teams that Russell has listed as his preferred destinations, the Chicago Bears have emerged as the team that appears to want to be aggressive in acquiring him. The New Orleans Saints are also supposedly interested, and it is unclear if the Raiders are, but new reports are suggesting that Seattle is now talking to multiple teams about a potential Russell Wilson trade.
If there is a bidding war happening, it could create a scenario very easily for Seattle to absolutely fleece one of those two teams in terms of players and picks in exchange for their superstar passer. That is why this new report of the Bears being “all in” on getting Russell this off-season is significant.
It makes sense for them to be this desperate for him, too. Both the head coach and the GM could be on the hot seat heading into the 2021 season. Being the head coach and GM that brings Russell Wilson to Chicago, a city with a storied NFL franchise that has never produced a superstar quarterback, would make them automatic heroes. Winning with Wilson is also practically automatic, and that those to things together paints an easy picture of both men having job security in Chicago for years to come.. if they can just get Russell Wilson.
If they really want him, and are ready to out compete the Saints (and possibly the Raiders), if I am Seattle, I am asking for the farm. I think there’s a chance they could get it, too
Here’s what I would ask for if I am the Seattle Seahawks
It is reported that for the Seahawks to even enter into a discussion about any Russell Wilson trade scenario, three first round picks must be on the table. That’s just the starting point for entering into trade discussions with the Seahawks, allegedly.
If I am Pete Carroll and John Schneider, I am demanding premier edge rusher Khalil Mack from the Bears, and on top of those first round picks, I am insisting on a hand full of day two picks and probably a few young starters on rookie contracts. If they refuse on Mack, I’m hanging up the phone.
Additionally, since Chicago cannot offer me a quarterback off of their roster that I like in exchange for Russ, I am insisting that they acquire a young experienced passer on another roster that I like that they can, in turn, flip my way. Personally, I think Gardner Minshew from Jacksonville makes some sense since the Jaguars are prepared to draft Trevor Lawrence first overall, and given how efficient he has been in the league as a two year starter on top of his obvious PNW roots playing for Washington State.
Whoever the player is, though, I am putting the onus on the Bears to acquire the young quarterback that I want, and to package him to Seattle as part of the blockbuster move for Russ. I want a player who can read an NFL defense, understands the NFL passing game, is ready to step into the starter role, and who is preferably on a cheap rookie deal, and I am making Chicago do that work for me.
If they really want my prize quarterback while he is still well in his prime, I will insist on the farm. I want a player who is arguably the best edge rusher in the league, I want three first round picks, a want a young experienced passer with some upside, and I want some combination of second and third round picks and young talented players on rookie deals to fill out my roster.
If I am going into the 2021 season significantly less talented at the most important position on football, I am getting significantly better at most other key positions and areas. I want a pass rush that doesn’t have to rely on blitzing and can easily get home with four. I am giving myself significantly better offensive line that will be built for years. I am getting better coverage corners, and I am giving myself another offensive weapon, and I want a capable quarterback ready to start.
My strategy for moving on from Russ is simple. I am going to build a roster that any competent quarterback could step onto and find success. That is how I move on from a disgruntled legacy driven Russell Wilson.
He can have his legacy style points and be the Savior of Chicago Football. I want a championship level team built up in Seattle. If Chicago can give me enough players and picks to make this happen, and my team can be built this way for the longer haul, I say that we have a deal, and I will be perfectly happy to never have to deal with Russell Wilson’s pain in the butt agent again.
Would Seattle’s 2021 season be doomed if they moved on from Russell Wilson?
I’ve seen the following suggested often. When people assert that the idea of trading Russell Wilson is crazy talk, it almost always is attached with this belief that the Seattle Seahawks would have to enter into a massive rebuild and wouldn’t be competitive inside the hyper competitive NFC West division in 2021.
Personally, I think that’s kinda lazy thinking. Yes, Russell Wilson has largely carried this team over the past few years. It would be foolish to argue otherwise, but let’s examine that a bit.
If we are to be honest about this whole Russell Wilson in Seattle situation, we have to acknowledge how difficult it is for the a team to be strapped with his sort of salary to fill out it’s roster like it was during the height of the Legion of Boom days. It’s harder to find blue chip talent through the draft when you make the playoffs annually, and you’re always drafting in the back end. You aren’t likely to find any legitimate left tackles like Duane Brown, you have to trade significant draft capital for them, and you have to fit their expensive salary into your cap space. Essentially, you are in a constant juggling act of having to give to get.
It’s fair to criticize Seattle for late first round draft misses, but if we are to be honest, when you are picking late in the first, you aren’t likely drafting true first round talent, you’re picking a player that likely has a second round grade. Drafting in the later portion of each round also becomes more of a crap shoot. For even hit on a late day two pick like Tyler Lockett, DK Metcalf and Frank Clark, there are underwhelming picks like Ethan Pocic, and Lano Hill.
If Seattle were to move off of Russell’s expensive contract, and if they got a enough immediate impactful talent and picks in exchange, that would free Seattle up in terms of salary cap to be more active in free agency once again, and they would have extra ammo for the draft. Let’s think back to those Super Bowl years and the seasons before them.
Back in the early portions of the Pete Carroll era, Seattle had cap space to pursue key free agent veterans such as Sidney Rice, Zach Miller, Cliff Avril, and Michael Bennett. They didn’t acquire an expensive veteran quarterback, they took bargain flyers on Tarvaris Jackson, Charlie Whitehurst, and Matt Flynn, and they waited until round three to draft Russell Wilson. They went thrifty at QB and opened up the competition. They spent their money in other ways, and much of that money went into their offensive and defensive lines.
In 2011, which was their worst season, they went 7-9, but they were still a competitive team. They beat good teams. You could feel genuine momentum moving in 2012, the year that they took a third round flyer on Russell Wilson.
For all those who pull their hairs out over how frugal Seattle has been in recent years with their offensive line, the year they won the Super Bowl, they had the most expensive offensive line in that 2013 season. Having a quarterback on a cheap deal allowed them to pay Max Unger handsomely at the time, and bring in Breno Giacomini.
They also paid players throughout the defense line, as well. Chris Clemons, Red Bryant, and Brandon Mebane were all on big contracts at the time, and they went big in free agency on short term prove it contracts for Avril and Bennett. Seattle was able to create an obscenely deep defensive line rotation that was every bit the reason that they won the Super Bowl as it was the Legion Of Boom defenders playing behind that line.
They created a team that won ball games in the trenches with powerful running, play action, and a deep rotational pass rush. That was their Super Bowl winning team, and let’s be honest about Russ’s role on that team. Yes, he did numerous flashy things with his arm and legs, but he was a game managing quarterback, and at that time, he seemed happy to be one.
This is not to be meant as a slight on Russ as a player back then, but many football minds felt that the 2013 Seattle Seahawk roster was so built up that practically any capable quarterback in the league could have guided them to that Super Bowl. San Francisco castoff Alex Smith could have guided that roster to the Super Bowl.
Teams with marginal talent at quarterback can win in this league
Let’s explore this notion of well built teams with marginal talents at quarterback, and look at the league over the last handful of years. You might find the numbers surprising.
Of the teams that played in the Super Bowl the last few years, the 49ers, Rams, and Eagles got there without a star quarterback, and the Eagles won it with journeyman Nick Foles. A few years ago, the Bears went 12-4 with Mitch Trubisky at quarterback, and it was just a short time ago that the Jacksonville Jaguars got to the AFC championship game with Blake Bortles at quarterback (who is not good). In that same year, the Vikings got the NFC championship game with journeyman Case Keenum as their starter. Over the last couple years, the Tennessee Titans have been a playoff team with Miami castoff Ryan Tannehill as their quarterback.
Castoffs, journeymen, and middling talents guided their teams to decent playoff runs repeatedly in recent history, and honestly, throughout time. Rich Gannon led the Raiders to their last Super Bowl twenty years ago, and he was out of the league a few years before.
If the team is built up enough, it makes the quarterbacks job a lot easier. That’s why I’d be leery about drafting an Alabama quarterback high. It way too easy to over inflate the quality of a quarterback on a winning team.
Therefore, this idea that the Seattle Seahawks would automatically be tanking their 2021 season if they traded Russell Wilson is lazy thought processing, in my opinion. If they acquire Khalil Mack and others from the Bears, and have dipped into free agency and the draft to fill out their offensive line better, this team could be built up more to compete than some might think. Really, it could just boil down to them finding a competent and accurate enough passer to get the pass off into DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett’s hands.
Folks can laugh all they want to about a player like Gardner Minshew coming into Seattle and replacing a legend like Russell Wilson, but let’s peel back the layers a bit with Minshew. He’s an athletic and experienced starter on a cheap rookie contract for two more seasons. His passing numbers over the last two years have shown an efficiency that Pete Carroll likes out of the quarterback position. He generally takes care of the ball, and while he doesn’t have a canon of an arm, he can make all the throws required from an NFL quarterback. On top of that, he’s scrappy and likeable. Plus, he’s a bit of legend himself in the PNW having played for the Washington State Cougars in college, and led them to a bit of a magical year in 2018.
It’s very possible that Gardner could step in with new offensive coordinator Shane Waldon’s offense, and beat out another experienced starter (like Alex Smith or Andy Dalton) for the job, and win over his teammates, if not the fans right away. If Seattle goes 10-6 (or greater), makes it back into the playoffs and wins a game or two with a fierce pass rush, and efficient quarterback play from Minshew, there could easily be Minshew Mania felt once again in the Pacific Northwest. Winning always cures a lot of woes.
This is why I am nowhere near ready to say that Seattle would tank into a total rebuild if they moved on from Russell Wilson in 2021. I would actually say that Seattle is not likely to trade Russell Wilson to rebuild at all. They are not going to take a deal just to take one.
If they are going to move away from Russ, it’s because they will have believed that they got enough in exchange to compete for the NFC West crown in 2021. Whether that happens or not would remain to be seen, but I am certain that the idea of rebuilding would not be in their thought process. They would have gotten enough back for him to have felt like they could move forward in a win now mode.
What do I really want Seattle to do?
I want them to figure out what to do with Russell Wilson and commit to that. Ideally, I want them to work it out between him and Pete Carroll. But if they can’t do that, I actually would be okay with them moving on from Russ if the right deal is presented. But it has to be the right one.
It’s also not realistic to expect that the team in going to move on from Pete Carroll in favor of Russ. I get the logic that suggests that if you had to chose between a near 70 year old head coach, and a 32 year old quarterback who is probably top five in the league, you chose the quarterback. I am not going to argue against that.
I am just more willing to accept the fact that it appears that team ownership is all-in on Pete Carroll having just extended his deal through 2025, and if I am to be honest in my acceptance of that, I would say that if any near 70 year old head coach can carry forth without his star passer and still win in this league, I would say Pete Carroll is probably that guy. He has a formula for winning that has stayed true for decades, and until it is proven otherwise, nobody really knows if he can’t be successful in Seattle without Number 3 as his passer. Personally, I think he has earned the right to try, if need be.
Hopefully, it doesn’t need to happen. Hopefully Russ and his agent figure out a way for them to be happy in Seattle with Pete Carroll running the show. Something tells me, though, that ultimately, they are looking for greener pastures, and even if Pete Carroll concedes to many of their needs and wants, it likely won’t be enough. That’s just my hunch.
If my hunch is true, then I want Seattle to absolutely fleece the Bears. In fact, I am demanding it.