Tom Brady with the Tampa Bay Bucaneers in 2020. Matthew Stafford with the Los Angeles Rams in 2021. Peyton Manning with the Denver Broncos in 2015, and Drew Brees with the New Orleans Saints in 2009. These are the quarterbacks who have won Super Bowls since 2010 with a team other the one who drafted them. Notice how they all have something in common: each of them was part of a blockbuster deal that saw them change cities and lead a new team to the coveted big game; conversely, the team from which they departed struggled mightily to replace them and not a single one of them has advanced beyond the Championship round of the playoffs since.
Sure, Mac Jones looked good as a rookie. He might be a perfect match for New England as the successor to the GOAT eventually, but he has a long way to go before he hoists the trophy. The Detroit Lions got much, much worse when they swapped Stafford for Jared Goff. Philip Rivers torched secondaries for a good handful of seasons, even making it to the AFC Championship once in 2008, but he ultimately departed the West Coast to be a stopgap for the final team on this list — the Indianapolis Colts — who repeatedly floundered to replace their one-time heir-apparent to the Manning-throne, Andrew Luck. This is not a what successfully building a winning culture looks like.
And now we have the Seattle Seahawks and Russell Wilson. Or, more accurately, we had the Seattle Seahawks and Russell Wilson. Now we get Drew Lock and a handful of picks. For whatever that is worth. And maybe the team will shock the entire world and draft a winner. There are some exciting QBs in the draft this year — Dane Brugler of the Athletic has three of them going in the first round, but none higher than Pittsburgh’s Kenny Pickett to the Washington Commanders at 11. But I find it surprising to think that the team is looking at Pickett, Malik Willis, or Desmond Ridder and thinking that this is the year to go all in on a rookie signal caller. These guys are largely developmental prospects with upside, and with the age and recent team history, I would venture to guess that Pete Carroll is feeling his seat get hotter by the minute. That seat isn’t going to get cooler by trading reps between Drew Lock and one of the above guys come training camp.
The short version of this long and heart-wrenching story is this: teams rarely get better by when they show their Franchise Passer the door. Yes, winning with an outsize portion of cap space dedicated to one position is improbable, but not nearly as improbable as doing what Seattle did when they elected to draft Russell Wilson: the team found a leader, a winner, and an all-around solid person to play the singular most important and difficult to replace position on any NFL team. And he did so and damn near didn’t miss a game for a decade. And he touched the lives of many, many people, as a football player and to an even greater extent as a member of the community. So here is to you Russell Wilson: I wish you all the best in Denver. You have provided more great football memories than I can count, and I will always, always, always love the energy and passion you brought to every single game. And, of course, for the Super Bowls. Yes, both of them.