A massive story from The Athletic dropped on Thursday. Mike Dugar, Jayson Jenks and Mike Sando teamed up to provide details into the fracture that exists between Russell Wilson and the Seahawks organization.
The rift has been mounting for years now, but Wilson publicly putting the team on notice after the Super Bowl brought this storyline back to the forefront of NFL headlines. The most salacious anecdotes from the Athletic’s story included Wilson storming out of a meeting, Pete Carroll’s unchecked power and exploring potential trade possibilities.
Let’s focus on that last part. The story didn’t go as far as to say that Wilson has outright asked to be traded, but it’s fair to say at this point that the star QB, at least to a certain degree, wonders if a fresh start would be best for his career.
Wilson regularly mentions his legacy, his intentions to play until he’s 45 and his desires to go down as one of the best to ever do it. He is on track to be in the Hall of Fame, but his dreams of achieving GOAT status are dwindling rapidly. That assuredly crossed Wilson’s mind when he watched Tom Brady hoist his seventh Lombardi Trophy earlier this month.
The Seahawks have regressed year-over-year after failing to escape the Wild Card Round in 2020 a season after being ousted by the Packers in the 2019 Divisional Round. There’s an easy case to be made that Seattle is no closer to returning to the Super Bowl than it was two or three years ago. The team’s championship window is nowhere near its peak and it’s threatening to be slammed shut if the Seahawks regress again in 2021.
Minimal cap space and just four draft picks in the 2021 NFL Draft are additional roadblocks facing Carroll and John Schneider’s attempt to reload the roster for next season. Wilson knows this, too, of course.
But being traded isn’t necessarily a grass is greener situation for Wilson. Even though the quarterback has a no-trade clause in his contract, that only ensures he’ll have the power to approve his next destination. Adam Schefter tweeted on Thursday that Wilson would only approve a trade to the Cowboys, Saints, Raiders and Bears. But that doesn’t mean the Seahawks would give those teams any sort of discount in order to acquire Wilson.
The price tag for Seattle’s franchise quarterback would include a handful of first-round picks and likely a young star or two. That team would also assume Wilson’s hefty $35 million contract. That means he’d be moving from one cap-strained team with limited draft capital to another, putting pressure on him to deliver a Super Bowl immediately.
So much of this comes down to philosophy, power and respect. As the Athletic detailed, Wilson clearly doesn’t believe his word carries enough weight within the Seahawks organization. It has also been obvious for a while now that Wilson and Carroll have a different perception of the problems and subsequent solutions necessary for getting the offense back on track in 2021. Conversely, a new team would ideally give him Patrick Mahomes-level freedom within the offense.
It’s those factors that make the current situation untenable. Wilson getting his desired seat at the table with a new organization might be the tipping point for him wanting out of Seattle.
These next few weeks and months will be telling. At some point, John Schneider and Pete Carroll will make their first public comments on the matter. That might come prior to the start of the new league year in mid-March.
If this relationship is to be salvaged, it will require accountability and concession from both sides. There’s no avoiding the fact that Wilson didn’t play his best ball down the stretch of last season. He must be better in 2021 for the Seahawks to have a legit chance to return to the Super Bowl. Carroll, one of the most powerful men in the NFL, must cede more control of the offense to Wilson and new OC Shane Waldron. Schneider will be required to be both creative and accurate in free agency and in this year’s draft.
Finally, and this is something I’ve written already this offseason, winning next season is mandatory. The notion of remedying the fissure between Wilson and the Seahawks is moot if wins don’t follow in 2021. Of course, that’s assuming the two sides are able to make it through the offseason, something that isn’t a guarantee at this juncture.