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What Russell Wilson’s 4 ‘approved’ trade destinations say about what he’d want from a new team

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Los Angeles Rams v Seattle Seahawks Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

Last week, Adam Schefter reported the names of four teams Russell Wilson would be willing to be traded to: the Dallas Cowboys, New Orleans Saints, Las Vegas Raiders and Chicago Bears. In the days since that tweet, fans have pointed out issues with each one of those destinations. But is there a common thread among them?

Perhaps the Cowboys make sense from the standpoint that it’s a big time franchise, and any team in the NFC East would be the favorite with Wilson behind center. Yet, the Giants, Eagles or even Washington (a team just up the road from where Wilson went to high school) were absent from the list. If Wilson wants to be the focal point on offense, he’d be sharing the backfield with Ezekiel Elliott in Dallas.

With the anticipated retirement of Drew Brees, the Saints seem like an obvious choice. New Orleans has a coach who has built a roster that has been consistently in the playoffs and seems the most likely candidate of the four teams to compete for a Super Bowl. However, they’re nearly $70 million over the cap, the worst position of any NFL franchise.

Offensive line issues was Wilson’s stated concern. He made it clear in his own words that he wants to be hit less and both the Raiders and Bears finished below the Seattle Seahawks in the 2020 offensive line rankings by Pro Football Focus. With Tom Cable in Las Vegas and Germain Ifedi in Chicago, one would think that would be enough of a deterrent to leave both those teams off his list.

If Chicago and Las Vegas are worthy, why aren’t either the New York teams? Especially considering that Wilson has been rumored to want to go there dating back to his latest contract negotiations. Both New York teams have coaches with Super Bowl experience as coordinators with their former teams. And why not list teams like the Dolphins or the Football Team who seem to make sense in terms of being a quarterback away from competing for a championship?

A common thread among those four (Jets, Giants, Dolphins, and Football Team) is that none of them have a former offensive coordinator as head coach. If that’s a clue, then how about we throw out all teams coached by former defensive or special teams coordinators?

While we’re narrowing the list, one could expect that Wilson wants to go to a coach who is a proven winner in the NFL. Toss out the former offensive coordinators who haven’t yet led an NFL team to the playoffs.

Once we do that, it narrows the list down to 9 coaches with career playoff wins in parentheses: Andy Reid (17), Mike McCarthy (10), Sean Payton (9), Jon Gruden (5), Bruce Arians (5), Sean McVay (3), Matt LaFleur (2), Kyle Shanahan (2), and Frank Reich (1). Matt Nagy has won a division title, but lost in the Wild Card round twice.

The Green Bay Packers, Kansas City Chiefs and Tampa Bay Buccaneers have quarterbacks who just made it to either the Super Bowl or NFC Championship game. Throw out those as possibilities. The Los Angeles Rams and Indianapolis Colts recently announced trades for their quarterbacks in 2021, and surely John Schneider wouldn’t trade Wilson to a division rival so take off the San Francisco 49ers. That’s three more down.

Finally, the list of the four remaining teams: the Saints, Cowboys, Bears, and Raiders.

So is it just a coincidence or is this the message Wilson and his agent are trying to send? That if he is ever willing to waive his no-trade clause, it has to be to a team with an offensive-minded head coach with experience leading a team to the playoffs?

If it’s to the point where Wilson won’t even consider going to another defensive-minded head coach in the NFL, one has think that it’s either a shot directed toward Pete Carroll. At the very least, it seems to be yet another way to send the strongest possible message that he wants help on the offensive line.

I’m still counting on Russell Wilson remaining with the Seahawks, but at least I have some resolve as to why those four names ended up being the four teams Mark Rodgers listed via Adam Schefter.