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How Seahawks trading Russ impacts 49ers, rest of NFC West

Bears Insider
Russell Wilson, Trey Lance

Hours after Aaron Rodgers reportedly agreed to a record-breaking contract to stay with the Green Bay Packers, the NFC West changed forever.

According to multiple media reports, the Seattle Seahawks are trading superstar quarterback Russell Wilson to the Denver Broncos for Drew Lock, Shelby Harris, Noah Fant, two first-round picks, two second-round picks and a fifth-round pick. The Broncos also will receive a fourth-round pick in the trade.

After facing Wilson twice a year for the past decade, the 49ers no longer have to worry about the man who had become their own personal boogeyman over the last decade. In 21 career starts against the 49ers, Wilson went 17-4 while throwing for 4,169 yards, 36 touchdowns and just 10 interceptions. Even last season, with the Seahawks sinking en route to a last-place finish, Wilson still beat the 49ers both times he faced them.

Wilson's exit to Denver along with the 49ers' expected plan to transition from Jimmy Garoppolo to Trey Lance signals the dawn of a new era in the NFC West.

For the past 10 years, the Seahawks have been one of the dominant forces in the division, and the 49ers, at least for most of that time, their chief rival. With one seismic move, the Seahawks signaled they intend to embark on a full rebuild. The Seahawks have been trending down for the last few seasons. They have drafted poorly, flopped on the Jamal Adams trade and it was clear they weren't going to win another title with Wilson and Pete Carroll.


So, they hit the reset button, and it will be a long climb for the Seahawks, who lived at the top of the NFC West for 10 years, to get back to the top of the division.

Unless Wilson falls off a cliff, it's hard to see any way the Seahawks walk away from this trade a winner. Wilson is a nine-time Pro Bowler who has won a Super Bowl, went to another and thrown for 292 career touchdowns. He has been one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL for a decade and that's not something that's easy to replace.

Even if the Seahawks magically start drafting well again, it's almost impossible to win a trade that has you surrender a top-10 quarterback still in his prime.

The trade of Wilson also could also set off a mass exodus from the Pacific Northwest. Starting tackles Duane Brown and Brandon Shell are both free agents as is safety Quandre Diggs. Seattle can save more than $16 million if it cuts Bobby Wagner.

Seattle has two quarterbacks on its roster currently in Lock and Jacob Eason. There is no surefire option atop the 2022 NFL Draft. It's more than likely that general manager John Schneider uses the 2022 season as a year to reset the roster and put Seattle in position to draft an elite QB in a much better 2023 class. Bryce Young, anyone?

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As the Seahawks tear things down to the studs, the 49ers are preparing to turn the keys over to Lance who they believe can get them over the hump that Garoppolo didn't have the horsepower to traverse.

Wilson's exodus to the AFC also leaves the NFC starved for playoff-caliber quarterbacks.

Rodgers, Matthew Stafford, Dak Prescott and Kyler Murray still remain, but both Prescott and Murray have their warts and there is a steep dropoff after those four. Tom Brady is gone. The New Orleans Saints and Washington Commanders don't have a starting quarterback. The Carolina Panthers, New York Giants, Detroit Lions and Atlanta Falcons don't have playoff-worthy rosters. Kirk Cousins will do enough to get you to the dance but he's leaving early.

That leaves Jalen Hurts, Justin Fields and Lance, all of whom are extremely talented but young and relatively unproven on the biggest stage.

As Seattle starts what is sure to be a long and painful rebuild, the 49ers are poised to keep rising with Lance, knowing their NFC West path got a little easier with Wilson no longer lurking around the corner twice a season.

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