What’s A Tolerable Return For Russell Wilson?

While the blowout win against the Jaguars was nice, it can not overshadow what happened in week 16. It was another crushing and disappointing failure against the Chicago Bears in the snow (a last-second kick in the teeth to all the fans that showed up who braved the blizzard) that put the Seahawks into crisis mode about how their star quarterback has been performing in big moments. In the 25-24 loss, Wilson time and time again looked disinterested, missed easy throws that could have extended drives, and took multiple sacks that put the team in disadvantageous situations. While he made enough throws that put Seattle in a position to win, he sure didn’t look to be giving it all for the team.

If this portends Russell’s current mindset about his situation, then Seattle’s worst fear has come true. They let the franchise fall apart to the point that their best player feels the need to force his way out. With two years left on his contract, Wilson and the Seahawks will have to navigate waters that few teams have had to in NFL history. Trading a franchise QB. Most recently, Aaron Rodgers tried to force his way out of Green Bay last summer. To all observers, it appeared not to work as Rodgers did not get moved, GM Brian Gutekunst was not relieved of duties, and he now has the Green Bay Packers in position for a top seed in the NFC.

Seattle could take that tact and call Wilson’s bluff, but the amount of tension from such a move could seriously scuttle any locker room chemistry a head coach tries to build. From on-field evidence, it seems like Russ has lost full belief in head coach Pete Carroll – meaning a maintaining of the status quo would only push Wilson closer to the door. At the same time, a new coach and possible GM could signal a rebuild – which could also motivate Wilson to seek other pastures as well as hinder that new coach’s ability to control the locker room.

The only reason why it worked for the Packers is that they were still on the upswing. The Seahawks are not. It may prove more fruitful to see what’s out there for the veteran quarterback, especially after the new crop of quarterbacks from the 2021 draft has proven inconsistent at best. Options for a younger and cheaper signal-caller could be out there, with the addition of additional assets.

Shaping a trade is tough; there have not been many hall of fame caliber quarterbacks traded in their prime. While Russell Wilson’s season-long stats have looked on par with his past seasons on paper (18 touchdowns, 5 interceptions, 65% completion percentage), his lack of success in clutch situations – mainly game-winning drives and third-down success rate – have been noticeably lacking in 2021. Still, at 33, he should have at least 5 more years of upper-tier football left in his career. Teams ready to try and compete will pay a premium for that. The most recent price reported for a similar tier QB is the Miami Dolphins near trade for Deshaun Watson of three first round picks. Our look around the league will base scenarios off of that price point.

First off is the team we just mentioned … the Miami Dolphins. It’s the league’s worst kept secret that they offered a significant draft haul, as well as their starting QB Tua Tagovailoa in return for the much-maligned Watson. While a great player, Watson has many sexual harassment/assault cases that are currently pending – but they were willing to leverage their future for him. That same package – at least – should be on the table for Russell Wilson as they look to be real contenders in the AFC. Tagovailoa has yet to show real superstar upside but has been a capable starter at times in the league. He is still recovering from a severe injury suffered at the University of Alabama. Seattle would be cutting their cap spent on a QB by two-thirds if such a deal is made while restocking their war chest of draft assets. Tua still has enough potential that the Seahawks could fashion themselves as playoff contenders while adding good, young talent through the draft. 

The next team would be the New York Jets, who hold two picks in the top ten of the upcoming 2022 draft, and Zach Wilson, the #2 overall pick in the 2021 draft. Coincidentally, one of those picks is the Seahawks’ first-round pick sent in the Jamal Adams trade. The dream scenario would be Seattle getting all three. While Wilson hasn’t shown much overall, he has shown enough potential arm strength to be an intriguing flier still. Both picks are in positions that could potentially snag the best signal-callers in the draft, as well as potentially nab a premium pass rusher. The Jets may not be willing to part with all three, but Seattle getting the Jets’ first-rounder and Wilson could set the Seahawks up well going into 2022.

Another stark possibility is a team that Russell Wilson has shown a desire to go to, and that team reciprocates interest. The Chicago Bears are out a lot of draft assets but have a rookie QB in Justin Fields that may have the most potential of his class outside of Trevor Lawrence. The Bears also have a desperate GM trying to save his job and a lame-duck head coach. The combo will most likely try to swing a hail mary to keep their job, and a future hall of famer may be enough to let ownership to allow it. While the Bears would be missing the premium pick that other teams could offer, they do have a surplus of defensive talent that Seattle would most likely be interested in. Defense End/Outside Linebacker Khalil Mack could be that piece, as the former DPOY winner would be a defensive superstar to build the defense around. He’s older (30) and would be coming off injured reserve. But he’s still good, really good. If he is still a transformational piece, and Fields thrives with better talent around him, I could see this as the one Seattle goes for if Carroll and Schneider are left in place.

Other teams will be in the mix, too, most notably the Philadelphia Eagles, New York Giants, and the Pittsburgh Steelers. All have their flaws in what packages they could offer, but if the other three are reluctant to give a big enough asset haul, then they could easily come into play. The Eagles have two top-10 picks but don’t have a notable young quarterback to throw in with both/either. The Giants are projected to have a top-five pick but have a similar issue in their quarterback room. The Steelers have neither a top pick nor a young quarterback but have a ton of rostered talent. The lack of Seattle having their own pick would make what they’re offering much less intriguing because, as it stands, the Seahawks don’t have any other route to a premier signal-caller.

This conversation may be null, and some deals may get nixed because Russell Wilson has a no-trade clause in his contract. Also, Pete Carroll stated he has owner Jody Allen’s backing for now, and Russ has shot down reports asking for a trade. But there is a lot of noise behind their words, explicitly indicating that Russell wouldn’t sign a new contract in Seattle. If that’s true, then the organization may feel obligated to trade him even if he is willing to play through the end of his deal. It has all the makings of a mess, especially if Seattle doubles down and keeps the status quo into the next offseason.

The fans are ready for something big to happen, and with his recent play, Russ is in everyone’s crosshairs. It’s fair to wonder if his days in blue and green are numbered.

About Evan Peper 53 Articles
Seattle born and raised. I wear my fandom on my sleeve, as I bleed Seahawks blue and green and am Sounders’ Til I Die. To fill the basketball-shaped hole in my heart from when the Sonics were taken away from the city of Seattle, I have adopted the Portland Trail Blazers and rep Rip City. I aim to bring an analytical view on the sports world and hope to impart a deeper understanding of the game to my readers.

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