This has truly been an offseason to remember for quarterbacks.
Disgruntled Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson is just the latest one to make headlines, though he has not, in fact, demanded a trade from his current team, his agent Mark Rodgers told ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
The agent said that Wilson has expressed his desire to remain and play in Seattle, but that if a deal had to be made, he would only waive his no-trade clause for four teams: the Dallas Cowboys, the Chicago Bears, the New Orleans Saints, and the Las Vegas Raiders.
This is the culmination of what seems to be a very tense situation in Seattle between Wilson and the offensive powers that be. Though many are characterizing this as out of the norm for Wilson because of his public comments, this isn’t the first time he’s been at the center of a team controversy, with a beef between Wilson and the Legion of Boom a few years ago ending with the diaspora of that elite defensive backfield.
The former Wisconsin Badger had not been shy about expressing his frustrations following another early playoff exit for the Seahawks, grumbling about all the hits he was taking and a lack of say in the team’s personnel decisions.
The growing tension between Seattle and their franchise quarterback has led several league executives to believe that Wilson will be made available for a price by next offseason despite both sides now saying that a trade is highly unlikely right now.
The Seahawks made it clear to potential suitors earlier this month that Wilson would not be dealt—at least not this offseason considering the fact that trading him before June 1st would put $39 million in dead cap money on Seattle’s books for the 2021 season.
Wilson signed a four-year extension with the team in 2019 that will net him salaries of $19 million, $19 million, and $21 million over the final three years of the deal.
The ‘Let Russ Cook’ movement was big at the beginning of last season, with Wilson even publicly endorsing it as he burst out to the best start of his career as the MVP frontrunner through five weeks. That didn’t last, however.
The middle of the season saw Wilson go through the worst stretch of his professional career, during which he committed 10 turnovers in four weeks. During this time, ESPN sources say that Wilson’s ideas for fixing the struggling offense were dismissed, leading him to storm out of a meeting.
Once Wilson started turning the ball over at a rate that would make even Josh Rosen look good, head coach Pete Carroll abandoned the ‘Let Russ Cook’ thing (they threw the ball more than any other team through the first 10 weeks) and went back to his preferred run-heavy attack.
As the 32-year-old outlined earlier in this offseason, there are a few main sticking points for him when it comes to the organization. One of them is what he perceives as a lower level of control over personnel decisions than some other star QBs, another is a lack of dedication to running the offense through him, supposedly their best player, and another big one is Russ’ pass protection, or more accurately, lack thereof.
Through his first 144 regular season NFL games, Wilson has been sacked 394 times, including 47 times in 2020, third-most in the league. If ESPN Stats & Information research is to be believed, that is the most sacks any quarterback has had to suffer through in his first nine years in the league since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger.
Sure, some of those can be blamed on Wilson’s propensity to scramble around and try to make something happen, but almost three sacks every single game for nearly a decade is absolutely unacceptable, and from that perspective, it’s not surprising to see the chickens coming home to roost for Seattle.
The hire of new offensive coordinator Shane Waldron to replace Brian Schottenheimer is expected to help in the protection department as he introduces more short and intermediate passing concepts into the offense to help get the ball out of Wilson’s hand faster. Pittsburgh did something similar last year and the result was just 14 sacks, the lowest total in the NFL.
Multiple sources have confirmed that Wilson was involved in the process that landed on Waldron as Schottenheimer’s replacement and that the longtime QB endorsed the hire of the new OC as well.
In 2021 the Seahawks return a team with a ton of talent in the skill positions, but not much else. Without Wilson who knows where they would be, but with him they are currently sitting as the second-favorites to win the NFC West at +225 NFL odds behind the Los Angeles Rams, who added Matt Stafford and are now +180 favorites to win the division, which should be a great long-term NFL pick.
Wilson has already racked up eight Pro Bowls, a Super Bowl ring, a Man of the Year award, and a Second-Team All-Pro nomination, but you can bet that he’ll be coming into this season with a newfound chip on his shoulder after last year’s debacle.