Russell Wilson is off to the Denver Broncos and the entire NFL elite class is seemingly following him.
After playing several years in arguably the most difficult division in the league, Wilson now plays in unarguably the most talented division in the NFL and it’s not close.
Russell Wilson left the toughest division in football and joined the toughest division in the *history* of football.— Dugar, Michael-Shawn (@MikeDugar) March 17, 2022
Immediately following the Wilson trade, The Los Angeles Chargers added J.C. Jackson, Khalil Mack, and familiar face Sebastian Joseph-Day.
The Las Vegas Raiders added Chandler Jones and Davante Adams.
Raiders jump to No. 2 in the @PFF offseason Improvement Index with their trade for Davante Adams. Packers fall into the bottom-5.— Kevin Cole (@KevinColePFF) March 18, 2022
Adams' effect on the Raiders 2022 win projection is the highest of any non-quarterback move this offseasonhttps://t.co/bKefi6Q84y pic.twitter.com/2BlczHaj1e
The above chart was posted before the Kansas City Chiefs effectively traded in Juju Smith-Schuster for the departing Tyreek Hill. That won’t necessarily move the needle very much, and certainly not in a positive direction for Kansas City. But the Chiefs were in the AFC Championship Game and remain a perennial threat.
It’s a situation of interest to the Seahawks because they own the first two picks from the Broncos next season. This year, that resulted in picks #9 and #41, after Denver’s 7-10 finish. in 2021 they split the series against the Chargers, but lost both games against the Chiefs and Raiders. Presumably with Russell Wilson the team is more competent against the likes of the Philadelphia Eagles and Pittsburgh Steelers, but they’ve got six games against brutal opponents yet again.
I chose to look at the Pro Football Reference Approximate Value for a quick reference of the talent moving in and out of the AFC West. The numbers will be the AV from the 2021 season unless indicated.
Los Angeles Chargers:
J.C. Jackson - 12
Khalil Mack - last year was a 3, but he has an average AV of 14 over a 6-year span.
Joseph-Day - last season his AV was 3, but he posted a 10 in 2020 when his only sack was against Russell Wilson.
Gerald Everett - 5
Las Vegas Raiders
Adams - 15!
Jones - 9
Anthony Averett - 6. Averett was an underrated cornerback for the Baltimore Ravens last season with three interceptions and 11 passes defensed.
Kansas City Chiefs
Smith-Schuster - 1, and is a few years removed from his 2018 Pro Bowl season, but has also played with declining Ben Roethlisberger the entire time.
Justin Reid - 4
Marquez Valdez-Scantling - 4
Back to the Broncos
Note that Wilson himself posted a 12, the lowest of his career. That includes his rookie season, 2016, all of it. While obviously the Denver brass believed they were a quarterback and a Randy Gregory away from greatness, that’s a tricky thing to bank on, for several reasons. One, I’m not convinced they were an elite roster to begin with. Additionally, Wilson is not without question marks of his own, covered in detail by Seattle sports media. Add that to the insane influence of talent last month, and it’s more of a longshot that the Broncos suddenly go 15-2 than to finish closer to this past season.
With the team’s top two picks on the line, it’s an enjoyable situation to watch next year.