The arms race in the NFC West has heated up.
Last offseason, Seattle sent two first-round picks for Jamal Adams to maximize the franchise's title window during Russell Wilson's prime.
The Rams saw that move and sent two firsts of their own to drastically upgrade at the most important position on the field, quarterback.
The Los Angeles Rams traded Jared Goff, two first-round picks (2022 and 2023), and a 2021 third-round pick to the Detroit Lions for Matthew Stafford per NFL Network's Tom Pelissero.
The transaction heavily increases the Rams' chance to hoist the Lombardi Trophy a year from now and therefore further shrinks Seattle's odds.
That's not to say Seattle has no chance to win it all next season.
Russell Wilson has been one of the NFL's best players for years now and he has two elite receiving options in D.K. Metcalf and Tyler Lockett. Additionally, Seattle hiring former Rams passing coordinator Shane Waldron as offensive coordinator should improve the team's intermediate passing game to avoid long stretches of scoreless possessions, like the Seahawks experienced to end last year.
But, that offseason move does not make Seattle the preseason favorite in the NFC West, let alone the conference itself. Instead, the Seahawks will likely enter the 2021 season projected to finish third in the division behind a newly loaded Los Angeles and a healthy San Francisco 49ers team.
However, on the bright side, Matthew Stafford going to the Rams was not the doomsday scenario for Seattle.
That was if the heavily rumored 49ers had traded for him. San Francisco regressed from a Super Bowl appearance in 2020 largely due to many season-ending injuries to key players like Nick Bosa. That franchise expects to have a healthy roster in 2021 and fully expects to contend for another NFC Championship. The 49ers will not stop here trying to upgrade from Jimmy Garoppolo.
Meanwhile, Seattle will have to sign Jamal Adams, a box safety, to a record-setting contract and might watch Bobby Wagner, who was excellent in 2020 and instrumental in turning around its defense, walk in free agency due to other cap space obligations.
With Russell Wilson under center, the Seahawks can beat anyone in the NFL and that will not change next season, but the added competition in the NFC West greatly reduces Seattle's chances of returning to the Super Bowl for the first time since 2015.
Only three Wild Card teams have ever won the NFC Championship. With fans expected to be in full attendance next season, the difference between hosting a playoff game at Lumen Field and traveling to an opposing stadium swings the Seahawks' win probability a lot.
To get a home playoff game, where Seattle hasn't lost in front of fans in the postseason since 2004, the Seahawks will need to win the NFC West but that task gets a lot tougher with two games against the 49ers and Rams. Those series will make up a quarter of Seattle's schedule.
Also worth noting, as defending NFC West champions, the Seahawks should have a harder schedule than the Rams and Niners who will be playing second and fourth-place schedules in 2021 respectively.
Now, with the NFL expanding the postseason to seven teams per conference, the Seahawks do have a favorable shot of qualifying for the postseason. With this roster, missing the NFL playoffs would be a disaster and Russell Wilson has only missed the postseason once in his nine-year career.
Seattle will be playing after Week 17 of the regular season, but to have a good shot at winning the championship Seattle cannot play three road games before Super Bowl LVI.
Russell Wilson will give his team a chance to win every Sunday, but to truly maximize the 2021 title window an NFC West championship appears necessary. With Stafford headed to Los Angeles, that looks more unlikely.