clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

If I were John and Pete (Part Three)

What would a trade for RW3 look like - and how would it affect Seattle’s cap?

Pete Carroll and John Schneider (2019) Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

From Part Two of this series:

Russell Wilson and DK Metcalf are arguably one of the best QB-WR combos in the league. As a fan, I love them both and want them to retire as Seahawks.

But if I were John and Pete, neither would be on my roster in 2021. Russ is too expensive and DK is far too valuable to keep.

The only question is if I am shipping them somewhere together or splitting them up to maximize my return.

Question: How many NFL teams would call Seattle if it were clear that Russell Wilson was available?

Answer: 29 - every team except the two that just met in the Super Bowl. And the answer might have been 30 if Tampa Bay had lost.

That said, if I were John and Pete, there are only three destinations that make sense if I’m making the move to trade Wilson THIS offseason and absorbing the cap hit that comes with that decision.

All three are in the AFC which means that Seattle only has to face him every 4 years (unless there is a reunion in the Super Bowl). And all three of the teams have two first round picks this year.

Yes, I would be targeting the Dolphins, the Jets, and the Jaguars . . .. in that order.

Before scoffing at the idea of Jacksonville giving up the #1 pick, remember that their new GM (Scott Fitterer), their new OC (Darrell Bevell) and their new Passing Game Coordinator (Brian Schottenheimer) are all intimately aware of what RW3 would bring to their team - and Wilson has intimate knowledge of the offense the Jaguars are going to run. It’s a trade that would make sense.

AN IMPORTANT ACKNOWLEDGEMENT: Russell Wilson has a no-trade clause in his current contract.

In theory, the no-trade clause means that Mr. Wilson could block ANY trade. In reality, it only gives him the leverage to choose which trade he will accept. Thus, for each of the proposed trades, I will touch on why Russ might be willing to waive the no-trade clause.

A note about trade methodology: The “value” of each proposed trade is calculated using the commonly accepted Trade Value Chart (link is for drafttek.com).

To keep it simple, no “discounts” are applied to past or future picks.

TRADE PROPOSAL #1: RW3 to Miami

Seattle gets:

  • Both of Miami’s 1st-round picks, #3 and #18 overall
  • Miami’s 3rd round pick, #81 overall
  • QB Tua Tagovailoa

Estimated value of the package from Miami: 4,985 points

Why this trade makes sense for both teams:

Miami’s brass is saying all the right things about Tua - that they believe in him, that they’re committed to him, etc. Inside Dolphins HQ, I think they know that he isn’t the answer, that he won’t lead them to division titles or to the Super Bowl - at least not soon.

Giving up #3 and #18 is hard, but Miami would still have two picks in the top 50 (both in the 2nd round) and, after 20+ years of searching, they would FINALLY have a franchise quarterback that could challenge Dan Marino for the title of “Best QB in Team History.”

From Seattle’s perspective, you’re giving up a quarterback who owns almost every franchise record and who is one of only 3 QBs in league history to throw 250+ touchdown passes in their first nine seasons. Obviously that is not an easy decision. However, in return, you’re getting nearly 5,000 points in trade value.

More importantly though, Seattle is getting two first round picks AND a replacement for Wilson. A replacement who, it should be noted, would only cost Seattle about $10M over the next three seasons and also has a 5th-year option that Seattle could choose to exercise.

From a cap standpoint, even after absorbing the dead money on Wilson’s contract, Seattle would save $59M over the next three seasons by swapping Wilson for Tua.

With the #3 pick, the Seahawks could take the best offensive tackle in the draft - or the best EDGE / D-lineman. At #18, the team could target a cornerback.

Of course, that is NOT what Seattle would do.

No, Seattle would take those two first-round picks, sprinkle some fairy dust on them, and walk away with at least half a dozen picks through a series of trades, thus maximizing the value received for Mr. Wilson.

HOWEVER . . .

If I were John and Pete, I would only trade down so far because in addition to grabbing Tua from the Dolphins, I want to leave Day One of the draft with a franchise-caliber offensive lineman. I would also like to grab a promising corner - although I would be okay with taking one “early” on Day Two.

Why Russell Wilson would agree to this trade:

South Beach is hoppin’: Miami has a dynamic team and an innovative coach. Their rebuild is light years ahead of schedule. The Dolphins were in a position to compete for the AFC East title this year and had a chance to make the playoffs with a Week 17 win. Wilson puts them over the top.

TRADE PROPOSAL #2: RW3 to NYJ

Seattle gets:

  • Both of the Jets’ 1st-round picks, #2 and #23 overall
  • New York’s first 3rd-round pick, #66 overall
  • NYJ’s 4th round pick, #97 overall
  • OT Mehki Becton

Estimated Value of the package from New York: 4,982 points

Why this trade makes sense for both teams:

The Jets get the franchise quarterback they desperately need. ‘Nuf said.

No? Okay, how about this: New York isn’t turning around their franchise with the second best quarterback in this year’s draft. Yes, giving up the #2 pick, the #23 pick, and a player that looks like a franchise-caliber Left Tackle is a lot, but . . . Russell Wilson makes the Jets relevant. Plus, their new head coach doesn’t want to see RW3 land in Miami.

From Seattle’s perspective, the dynamic Justin Fields is a suitable replacement for RW3 at a fraction of the cost. Whatever offense Shane Waldron ends up implementing as Seattle’s new OC, Mr. Fields can certainly run it.

The downside is that using the #2 pick on Fields means you can’t trade #2 for a bunch more picks. But getting Mehki Becton helps with that. And #23 is almost certainly going to be used as the catalyst for multiple draft day trades.

In the end, Seattle saves some fairy dust but still ends up turning Mr. Wilson into 4-5 picks + a Left Tackle.

REALITY-CHECK: The Jets are unlikely to want to give up Becton but, as with the Miami trade (above), the GOAL is to leave Day One of the draft with Russell’s replacement (in this case Fields) and a franchise-caliber offensive lineman. The Jets don’t have enough to interest me if Becton isn’t part of the deal.

Unless they offer DL Quinnen Williams instead of Becton . . . then MAYBE.

Addressing the “obvious”:

It would be impossible for Seattle to pull off a trade with the Jets - one that brings back their own 1st-round pick as part of the deal - without talking about Jamal Adams.

Pairing the two trades together (and ignoring the “value” that Seattle received from having both Wilson and Adams in Seattle for the 2020 season), the net result would look like this:

Combined Trade (Adams + RW3)

As a 12, I think I’m okay with that. And I think the Gang Green Nation would be as well. It’s a win-win for all involved.

Why Russell Wilson would agree to this trade:

Even if we ignore the rumors / reports about his wife wanting him to move to the Big Apple, there is another reason for Wilson to sign off on this trade: ENDORSEMENTS. If one of the most likable players in the league (and this year’s Walter Payton Man of the Year) moved to the media capital of the world, his income would skyrocket.

TRADE PROPOSAL #3: RW3 to Jacksonville

Seattle gets:

  • Jacksonville’s first pick in each of the first 4 rounds of the 2021 draft; #1 overall, #33 overall, #65 overall, and #96 overall
  • The Jaguars’ 1st round pick in 2022

Estimated Value of the package from Jacksonville: 3,961 points PLUS the value of next year’s 1st round pick (TBD)

Why this trade makes sense for both teams:

If you’re Jacksonville and you’re “all in” on creating the east coast version of Seattle, would you rather have a rookie quarterback or one who already has Hall of Fame credentials and makes you a contender for the AFC South title immediately?

Plus, Seattle didn’t ask for both of your first round picks this year and, even after yielding four picks in 2021, you still have seven picks left, including two in the top 45, which leaves plenty of draft capital for adding some necessary pieces to your roster.

The 1st-round pick in 2022 makes this a harder decision than it should be, but if Wilson leads you to the playoffs then it’s a low 1st round pick and you’ll gladly send it to the Pacific Northwest.

For Seattle, this trade is H-A-R-D.

The common thread through these 3 proposals is threefold:

  1. RW3 = roughly 5,000 points of value
  2. Seattle ends up with a replacement for Wilson
  3. The Seahawks add a franchise-caliber offensive lineman . . . and picks

To point one, Jacksonville would be giving up “only” 3,961 points in 2021. Per the trade value chart, pick #16 is worth 1,000 points so anything above the 16th pick in 2022 puts Seattle over 5,000 points and anything under that leaves them short.

The inherent risk associated with taking a future pick is why this trade would be Option 3 if I were John and Pete.

That said, getting the #1 pick is WHY Seattle does this deal.

Not because I want Trevor Lawrence though. I get it - people like him and think he’s a “generational” talent. But he could just as easily be Baker Mayfield and that prospect scares me. Despite saying that I would take Justin Fields at #2, I wouldn’t take him at #1. But I might try to coax the Jets to move up to #1 . . .

In reality though, the #1 pick means using the John Schneider magic to “make it rain” with draft picks. Trade back from #1 to #8 maybe + pick up some picks. Trade #8 to move back into the low teens and add some more picks. Move back a third time and add yet more picks. Then take a franchise-caliber offensive lineman.

YES, there is a chance that the Seahawks might still need a QB in this scenario, depending on how the draft plays out and what other moves are made. But when all was said and done, Seattle could very well end up with a dozen picks in exchange for Mr. Wilson and that could end up being a franchise-changing development.

Why Russell Wilson would agree to this trade:

At first blush, he wouldn’t. Record-wise, Jacksonville has been the worst team in the league since Wilson was drafted.

To put that in context:

  • Cleveland went a combined 1-31 in 2016 and 2017 and still managed to win 5 more games than Jacksonville over the last nine seasons.
  • Seattle has won 59 more games than Jacksonville since 2012 (98 to 39).

Why would Wilson ever consider waiving his no-trade clause to go to Jacksonville?

I see three reasons:

  1. There is no question that the Jaguars could - and would - build a team around Russell Wilson.
  2. They will have more cap space in 2021 than any other team which means they have the resources needed to build a contender.
  3. The only two Offensive Coordinators that RW3 has played for in the NFL are both in Jacksonville now.

Honestly, if I’m Russell Wilson, this situation intrigues me - especially after watching TB12 guide the Bucs to a Super Bowl title with a team that has been, historically, even worse than Jacksonville.

The salary cap implications of trading Russell Wilson:

Russell Wilson’s cap hit for 2021 is $32M. Whether the salary cap comes in at $175M or $180M, Wilson will account for roughly 18% of it.

As of today, there is $39M in “dead money” on Wilson’s contract.

If Seattle trades Wilson before June 1st, all $39M “accelerates” onto Seattle’s cap.

Obviously it doesn’t make sense from Seattle’s perspective to have a higher 2021 cap hit for Wilson to NOT play here ($39M) than they would have if he DID play here ($32M).

Fortunately, the league allows teams to designate two moves per season as “post-June 1st” transactions. This allows the team to spread the dead money over two seasons instead of one with only the “current” season’s dead money affecting the current season and the rest getting pushed to the following year.

There is a wrinkle though . . .

If Seattle trades Wilson in March (on the first day of the new league year, for instance) and designates the trade as a post-June 1st transaction, the NFL views it as if the transaction hasn’t actually happened yet - from a cap-perspective. Thus, Wilson would remain on Seattle’s cap at $32M until June 1st.

AFTER June 1st, the $32M charge for 2021 would drop to $13M - as that is the prorated portion of his signing bonus that currently counts toward the 2021 salary cap - and the remaining $26M in dead money would get pushed to 2022.

This would ultimately end up “saving” Seattle $19M against the 2021 cap (minus the cost associated with replacing Wilson) and $11M against the 2022 cap (again, minus the cost of Wilson’s replacement).

Got all that?

Great!