I think I’m allowed a hot take every once in a blue moon. It’s not in my contract but pretend it is and that I get to say something provocative for clicks without physically yelling at you on screen like any of ESPN’s talking heads.
The Seattle Seahawks have reached a point I’d never thought we’d get to — or rather I’d never thought we’d reach this point so quickly. Russell Wilson’s not likely to be traded per se, but it’s no longer inconceivable that the team sends him elsewhere as soon as this year.
It is evident to the outside observer that the relationship between Wilson and Pete Carroll is not exactly harmonious. Wilson has been vocal about how often he’s been hit, how he’d like more personnel input, and his agent listed four teams whom Russell would waive his no-trade clause for. On Carroll’s part, he’s said nothing about the recent comments from Wilson and his agent, but The Athletic reported a heated moment where Wilson allegedly stormed out of a midseason meeting when his suggestions for fixing Seattle’s sputtering offense were dismissed. Carroll’s decision to fire Brian Schottenheimer also likely didn’t sit well with Wilson, who wanted input on the offensive coordinator search and seemingly got what he wanted with the hiring of Shane Waldron.
But the OC hire has seemingly not placated anything. Free agency hasn’t even hit and the rumors of Wilson’s imminent departure have intensified. Seattle would have a $39 million cap hit by dealing Wilson so on the surface it doesn’t make sense whatsoever. This shouldn’t be like the Carson Wentz saga in Philadelphia.
There’s a power struggle at play between a head coach whom I believe values building a great team over “building a great team around its quarterback” and a quarterback who believes the front office hasn’t done enough to build a great team and scheme around him. Wilson was well aware of the “Let Russ Cook” slogan and trademarked the damn phrase, and after somewhat living in the shadow of Marshawn Lynch and the Legion of Boom early in his career, he wants to carve out his own path as being the guy.
The Seahawks fanbase is on pins and needles waiting to see if this will smooth itself out or if Carroll and John Schneider do the unthinkable and trade the greatest quarterback and one of the greatest figures in Seattle sports history. Needless to say, public opinion is overwhelmingly going to side with Wilson over Carroll.
Okay I’ve made it six paragraphs without getting to my hot take, so here it goes...
If the Seahawks trade Russell Wilson, then you might as well blow up this roster and start over.
Short of getting Deshaun Watson, whom at this point is really the only quarterback of prominence and quality who might be available, there is no potential replacement starter who is even in Russell Wilson’s league. Derek Carr is the next best quarterback behind Watson in any QB for QB swap and he has engineered one winning season out of a possible seven.
You cannot trade Wilson in his theoretical prime years and (unless you somehow get Watson) claim that you’re still trying to be a competitive team hunting for a Super Bowl. That’s an insult to our intelligence. If you’re so minded to believe the 2013 team would’ve still been a playoff team if they had a league-average quarterback over Wilson, then the 2019 and 2020 squads would’ve been picking in the top-10 under the same scenario.
This roster has promising young talent and simultaneously is nowhere near the golden drafts of 2010-2012 that created the lean years of the Carroll/Wilson era. Those drafts netted several All-Pros, multiple future HOFers, and perennial Pro Bowlers that turned an awful, talent-poor team into a force. Subsequent drafts have not had nearly the productivity and indeed are a significant part of why Seattle hasn’t really come close to an NFC Championship Game since 2014.
Seattle has been a fringe contender with Wilson for quite a few years and have often lived on a knife edge and relying on Russell to perform something heroic. We have witnessed only five Seahawks wins by 9+ points over the past two seasons. For perspective, the 2010 and 2011 Seahawks both had five and they were a combined 14-18. Without him and with even a slightly worse alternative I think you know what happens from there. Catching lightning in a bottle with another cheap rookie contract quarterback or trying to revitalize Marcus Mariota’s career is incredibly unlikely.
Even if Carroll/Schneider trade Wilson and build a team that’s good enough to go into that 7-9 to 9-7 range where they’re either out of the playoffs or bounced in the wild card, that’s the type of mediocrity that is really wasting the best years from your best players. You might as well go full rebuild the moment the franchise quarterback exits. For all we know, with the many free agents the Seahawks have, soon-to-be expiring contracts of key starters (Bobby Wagner, Tyler Lockett, Quandre Diggs), the lack of cap space, and this cloud looming over Lumen Field, who’s to say that it might not happen anyway?
So the obvious concern here is that while I believe a blow-up is needed if Wilson leaves, do you want Carroll and Schneider to lead a second total rebuild? Their first one was pretty damn good but so much front office staff alone has come and gone that trying to repeat past success seems both futile and unreasonable. Perhaps they’re the ones who can hit the reset button and then a new administration can proceed accordingly.
Last year when the Jamal Adams trade happened I said that the move had a sense of “win now, Super Bowl or bust, etc.” and that if it backfired it’d probably put both Carroll and Schneider in line to be fired. The jury is still very much out on that but adding in dumping Wilson and it’d take perhaps their finest magic trick yet to avoid the unemployment line at the end of the 2021 season.
But the way I see it is either Seattle sorts this shit out appropriately and figures out how to maximize their remaining window of contention with Wilson, or they break up now and start the fire sale. I know which one most of you would rather see happen.