Remember that time former Bears offensive coordinator Mike Tice wanted to draft Russell Wilson?
Occasionally, that old draft story comes up. And it’s true.
“My dad loved him,” Nate Tice, Mike Tice’s son, said on The Hoge & Jahns Podcast last year. “He wanted to draft him in the fourth-round, and that is a bonafide fact. Fourth round, Bears were taking Russell Wilson.”
Well, Wilson didn’t make it to the fourth round and, nine years later, the Bears are still searching for a quarterback.
Fortunately for them, Russell Wilson might be available.
In a rare – and significant -- move, Wilson’s agent, Mark Rodgers, supplied ESPN’s Adam Schefter with a list of only four teams the quarterback would go to via trade: the Cowboys, the Saints, the Raiders and… the Bears.
It’s important to note that this isn’t a list supplied by an anonymous source. Rodgers put his name on it. And Wilson has a no-trade clause. He has the control.
Now, Rodgers also pointed out that Wilson has not demanded a trade, but this comes on the heels of a very detailed story by The Athletic that explained the brewing tension between Wilson and the Seattle Seahawks. It’s not pretty.
Among the details: Wilson stormed out of a pregame meeting with coaches before a Thursday night game against the Cardinals after his offensive game plan ideas were dismissed. And remember that CBS shot of an unhappy Wilson sitting with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell at the Super Bowl? That wasn’t just an untimely moment of boredom caught on camera. According to The Athletic, Wilson “seethed” as he watched Tom Brady playing in another Super Bowl instead of him.
Consider me skeptical about a trade actually happening. While it’s significant Rodgers provided a public list of acceptable landing spots, this could also be a power play to get what Wilson wants in Seattle – more influence over the offense and personnel.
Schefter emphasized that “Wilson has told the Seahawks he wants to play in Seattle,” but again listed the four teams he would accept a trade to if circumstances change.
So, like the Deshaun Watson situation in Houston, this appears to be a waiting game for the Bears. But unlike the Watson situation, we know the Bears are on Wilson’s short list.
That’s why Bears general manager Ryan Pace should be calling Seahawks GM John Schneider every hour with a new offer until he says yes,
But even if the Bears don’t acquire Wilson, that list could still be beneficial if the quarterback is traded elsewhere. A trade to either Dallas or Las Vegas would mean either Dak Prescott or Derek Carr would become available. Both quarterbacks would also represent a significant upgrade for the Bears.
As for the compensation? Well, it would be massive. Especially because a trade before June 1 would result in the Seahawks taking a $39 million dead cap charge in 2021, which is more than the Eagles just took for trading Carson Wentz. That alone should temper any expectation that Wilson would actually be moved.
And yet, this is a fire that hasn’t been put out since Wilson stoked the flames on The Dan Patrick Show after the Super Bowl when he admitted he is tired of being hit as much as he is in Seattle. No one seems to be putting water on the fire either. In fact, an agent providing a public list of trade destinations is nothing but gasoline.
At 32, Wilson might not offer the same longevity that Watson has at 25, but the Seahawks quarterback is the definition of durability, having never missed a game in his nine-year NFL career. And he would be a relative bargain, owed $19 million in 2021, $24 million in 2022 and $27 million in 2023.
The level of regret for passing up on Wilson in 2012 might not compare to passing up on Watson in 2017, but the last decade would look a lot different had former GM Phil Emery selected Wilson in the second round or traded up in the third round to grab him. The Seahawks ended up selecting Wilson at No. 75 overall, four picks before Emery drafted safety Brandon Hardin, who never played in a regular season game.
The story of Tice pushing for Wilson to the Bears isn’t exactly new. Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez told Sports Illustrated in 2014 that “Mike believed in him and said he was trying to build a case for him in Chicago. He was saying he was trying to give him more value on our draft board, saying he could play Wildcat quarterback for you, or be a wing back.”
Tice’s son, Nate, played with Wilson at Wisconsin, which is why the former offensive coordinator felt so strongly about him.
“He loved him, because he saw what we saw,” Nate Tice, now a football analyst for The Athletic, said. “He watched every game. He was like ‘Oh, we can wait until the fourth round to get him.’”
The Bears couldn’t wait until the fourth round. And they shouldn’t wait now.