Much has changed since the last time I wrote on the Russell Wilson trade situation:
Of those four teams, only Las Vegas has a starting-caliber QB under contract they can offer in return. The Dallas Cowboys could theoretically sign and trade Dak Prescott, but Seattle would have a tough time fitting his contract under its salary cap even if they cleared more space with extensions. Given that, any Russell Wilson trade package would presumably center around draft picks.
In accepting any trade offer of that kind, the Seahawks lose before Wilson even suits up for his new team. Despite Seattle’s shortage of selections in the next two drafts, those first-rounders aren’t nearly as inviting as they seem.
Why the Seahawks Should Hold Onto Russell Wilson
Wilson’s presence would devalue the other team’s picks
Any of the four teams on Wilson’s list becomes an immediate title contender if they trade for him. The Cowboys are the only team on the list with a losing record last year, but they could’ve easily won the NFC East with a healthy Dak Prescott. The Saints and Bears are both strong defensive teams that made the playoffs despite unstable quarterback situations. The Raiders’ defense held them back last season, but they have a young and improving core. With their weapons on offense and excellent offensive line, Wilson could have them competing with the Chiefs for the division crown.
As a result, any future picks the Seahawks receive will almost certainly land in the bottom half of the round. The Cowboys are the only team on the list that can offer a top-ten pick in 2021. While that lack of quality can be balanced out with quantity, Seattle would still have to spend one or a package of picks on a new quarterback. It’s hard enough to find a franchise quarterback in the top half of the first round, much less the bottom.
No sure things in the draft, especially at quarterback
Russell Wilson has famously never received an MVP vote, but he did receive All-Pro honors in 2019. He’s also made the Pro Bowl in eight of his nine seasons. More importantly, Seattle has finished with a winning record in all nine years, the longest active streak in the NFL. That streak has a good chance to continue in 2021 as long as Wilson is still with the team.
Many have recently reported on the fact that no first-round quarterback drafted from 2009-16 remains with their original team. Let’s expand that sample a little further. Forty-five quarterbacks were taken in the first round from 2000 to 2016. Only nineteen of them have made a single Pro Bowl. That list includes players like Vince Young and Jay Cutler, so it’s not exactly a high bar to clear.
Limiting the sample to the fifteen quarterbacks taken with picks 17-32, thirteen have never made a Pro Bowl. Teddy Bridgewater just has the one appearance, but Aaron Rodgers has nine Pro Bowls to go with his three MVPs and four All-Pro seasons. It’s a small sample size, but given the choice between keeping Russell Wilson and one-in-fifteen odds of drafting the next Rodgers, the decision should be obvious.
Trading up is an option, but they’d have to give up multiple assets for one player. Even if Seattle somehow acquired the first overall pick, that player could just as easily become the next Jamarcus Russell as they could the next Cam Newton. When you consider the front office’s recent history with its top selections, the odds lean toward the former.
Recent selections have been hit or miss, mostly miss
Seahawks fans are painfully aware of this fact, but Pete Carroll and John Schneider don’t have the greatest track record with first round picks. They did admittedly knock it out of the park with their first draft in 2010, when they landed a Pro Bowler in Russell Okung and a future Hall of Famer in Earl Thomas. It’s been all downhill from there.
James Carpenter and Bruce Irvin contributed to the team’s Super Bowl runs, but both left town after their rookie contracts. To make matters worse, Seattle took Carpenter ahead of 3-time Pro Bowler Rodney Hudson and Irvin just a few picks before Melvin Ingram and Chandler Jones.
More recently, Germain Ifedi can’t be described as anything other than a bust. Rashaad Penny and L.J. Collier still have time to turn things around, but both have disappointed so far. Jordyn Brooks struggled after being pressed into action sooner than expected, although he did improve down the stretch.
In years where Seattle didn’t have a first round pick, they’ve had even less success with their first selections. They did find a gem in Frank Clark, who had 35.0 sacks in four years before netting a first and second round pick in a trade. On the flip side, Paul Richardson parlayed his only good year in Seattle into a $40 million contract with Washington before the injury bug caught him. Christine Michael was dealt for a seventh round pick before his third season, and Malik McDowell never played a single snap for the team.
Schneider and Carroll have built their reputations on identifying gems later in the draft. Wilson himself was just a third-round pick, but the vast majority of third-round quarterbacks never earn more than a backup job. The organization can’t stake its future on lightning striking twice.
It’s a matter of confidence
Even with the highest of draft picks, there’s no guarantee of success. Does anyone think Trevor Lawrence will lead the Jaguars to a division title next year? Did anyone believe Joe Burrow would instantly transform the Bengals into a contender? The Browns aren’t even sure they want to keep Baker Mayfield after their first playoff appearance in nearly two decades.
Russell Wilson gives the Seahawks one thing no amount of first-round picks ever could: confidence. Trading away Wilson means giving up the absolute confidence that your team can compete. That’s the same confidence that keeps fans engaged, keeps revenue coming in and keeps free agents interested in signing. The Seahawks should do everything their power to keep that confidence as long as possible.
That starts by shaping up the team around Russell Wilson, not shipping him out. The Seahawks need to go all-in on making a Super Bowl run in 2021. If it goes disastrously wrong and the relationship between Wilson and the front office deteriorates to the point where the team implodes and misses the playoffs, they can consider moving on.
I’m confident that won’t happen.