Pete Carroll did his best to protect Russell Wilson on Wednesday afternoon. That was to be expected in the head coach’s first public comments since the dramatic saga surrounding his star QB began in early February.
Shortly after the Buccaneers won the Super Bowl, Wilson embarked on a media tour that consisted of him publicly airing frustrations, most notably his desires for better pass protection and a greater say in the team’s personnel decisions.
“He wasn’t any more frustrated than I was,” Carroll said during a pre-draft Zoom presser. “After the Super Bowl he was asked the questions and he responded that he was frustrated. Well, we all were. Thinking about the last game of the year, particularly when we were at home in the playoffs and had a chance-- we felt like we had a really good opportunity with health in our favor as well. It was hard. I think that’s a pretty normal reaction to be frustrated."
Carroll downplayed Wilson’s comments to the point of insinuating that they came out by accident, opposed to a calculated media tour designed to put the team on notice. Seattle’s coach went on a diatribe about how sometimes players don’t always know the weight their words carry, especially for someone with Wilson’s star power.
It was as if Wilson was new to being a franchise quarterback, completely oblivious to the magnitude of his stardom. Such a suggestion is ridiculous, of course.
“It takes discipline to do that, and it’s a real learning process. Hopefully Russ will be better for it because he’s been through a lot of that, and hopefully other guys can learn from that as well,” Carroll said.
That rationale is laughable given Wilson once signed the NFL’s richest contract in history in 2019, is married to an international music icon and regularly talks about wanting to be the best QB to ever play. Wilson’s comments in February were far more likely to be a deliberate flex of the power he knows he has than the “whoopsies” Carroll insinuated.
Nothing Wilson says is coincidental, especially when you consider he's one of the most image-conscience athletes you'll ever come across.
As for Wilson wanting added involvement in personnel decisions, Carroll said the QB never even brought it up to him.
“(Wilson) doesn’t have all the answers,” the coach said. “He just has his opinions, and I’m fine dealing with all that, just like it was with other players who have been here in the past. It isn’t any different. He never made any statement that he had to have more say so. That never happened. None of that happened.”
Carroll did acknowledge that some tough conversations were had in the building, potentially from player-to-player or player-to-coach. That, of course, was mostly the media’s fault.
“It’s a media problem. It wasn’t a problem for us because we knew the truth, and we were in conversation to talk about stuff,” Carroll said. “Because it’s in the media, there are things we need to address with other players and talk through stuff. That’s just a normal course. That’s nothing to be blamed on the media. You guys speculated the way you could with it. I have no grudges with it at all. There are conversations to clarify where you’re coming from so everybody is on the same page. If that hasn’t taken place in any particular instance, it will.”
Feel free to read between the lines however you wish, but I interpret that quote like this: Wilson ruffled some feathers in the locker room and through a number of conversations, fractures have been mended and everyone is back on the same page (or at least things are heading in the right direction).
Carroll essentially confirmed as much when it was brought up that the saga snowballed when Wilson’s agent Mark Rodgers gave Adam Schefter a list of four teams that the QB would accept a trade to.
“I had made a clear statement to Russ, ‘Let’s shut this down and be quiet on this stuff. We don’t need to say anything,'” Carroll said. “'We know the truth of what’s going on.’ When that came out, that kind of got it over the top, and it opened up some other conversations that didn’t need to happen. That was an example of why we’re quiet and why we don’t say anything. It was so meaningless because it had nothing to do with what was going on. It kind of gave another little bite at it that people could talk about, and I wish we would have avoided that, is what I’m saying.”
John Schneider added that he has regularly been in contact with Rodgers but didn’t go any further.
“Those are conversations that stay in house,” Schneider said. “We protect those conversations, and I hope that you can respect that.”
Seattle’s GM confirmed that several teams called to inquire about trading for Wilson, but he reiterated that he never “actively negotiated with any team.”
This story isn’t meant to insinuate that there’s still major tension in Seattle’s locker room or that the Seahawks are doomed in 2021. These are grown men capable of squashing beef and moving forward toward a common goal. We also know that Wilson played an important role in the recruitment of Gerald Everett, Chris Carson, Carlos Dunlap and others.
It also isn’t meant to suggest Carroll did any wrong by protecting Wilson and his team on Wednesday. I’m not sure how Carroll could have handled the barrage of questions any better.
The intention of breaking down Carroll’s quotes is to create curiosity and come to an understanding that we are not obligated to take his word as gospel. It’s OK to say to yourself, “that doesn’t make sense,” when Carroll tries to tell you that 2 + 2 doesn’t equal 4.
Ultimately, I think we learned as much as possible from the hour-long presser. With some nudging, Carroll gave us as candid a response as we could have hoped for.
“There was some stuff that was said that had to be dealt with, and it has been,” Carroll said. “He’s in a great place right now. … Right now he’s as jacked up as he’s ever been.”