The Seattle Seahawks and Denver Broncos were fierce divisional rivals in the AFC West for over two decades, and even after the Seahawks returned to the NFC West we got to experience the joys of a Super Bowl victory over the Broncos.
Now we’ve got the major move of the offseason that ties these franchises together once more. Seattle’s greatest ever franchise quarterback, Russell Wilson, is now a member of the Denver Broncos, who haven’t experienced anything resembling elite-level quarterback play since Peyton Manning. As part of that trade, the Seahawks have Denver’s 2023 first- and second-round picks, and you know what that means...
Whatever you think about the Seahawks and whether or not they should tank — I personally would hate this, as I don’t believe there’s any evidence it works in the NFL and just as a fan wanting your team to lose feels gross — there is every reason to root against the Broncos. You don’t have to cheer against Wilson (except for Week 1), but you should want the Broncos to be as lousy as possible.
We’ve been here before, and if history repeats itself then the foundations of the next great Seahawks teams will come courtesy of trading for the Denver Broncos’ first-round pick.
Back in 2009, Tim Ruskell did one of his few good things as general manager before departing the organization. After the ill-fated decision to take Aaron Curry at 4th overall, Seattle’s next scheduled pick was at 37th overall. Ruskell traded out of the second round entirely, sending the pick to the Broncos for a 2010 first-rounder. That’s it! That was the trade. Seattle traded back into the round by dealing their third- and fourth-rounders to the Chicago Bears, and from there Ruskell chose Max Unger.
But the big thing was the Denver trade. The Broncos had missed the playoffs for three seasons running and had just hired rookie head coach Josh McDaniels, as well as traded Jay Cutler for Kyle Orton. Seattle had to endure an unwatchable year of football under first-and-last year head coach Jim Mora, but the saving grace of the ‘09 season was the Broncos... eventually.
Denver started out 6-0 while the Seahawks were 2-4 and Mora was busy figuring out which King County transit bus line was the best one to throw Olindo Mare under. The Broncos plucked some absolute bullshit wins out of thin air as early as the opening game of the season.
But regression to the mean had to hit at some point, and Denver went on a slide. They were still poised for the playoffs at 8-4, but for the second year in a row managed to lose out after their 8th win and crash out of the postseason altogether. The worst of those defeats was at home to a dismal Oakland Raiders team, with JaMarcus Russell throwing a game-winning touchdown to Chaz Schilens in the final minute. This doesn’t even get credited as a win on Russell’s ledger, as Charlie Frye was the starter.
Denver’s pick went from being in the 20s to 14th over a chaotic final month, and the biggest winners were the Seahawks. Seattle’s own pick for 2010 would be used to take Russell Okung, while the Broncos pick acquired in the trade turned into Earl Thomas.
Here we are 13 years later and the Broncos have a rookie head coach Nathaniel Hackett, no playoff appearances since 2015, but unlike the Cutler-Orton swap, they have (in theory) actually upgraded at quarterback. The AFC is an absolute gauntlet such that even if the Broncos are better than they have been in recent years, it might not be enough.
All of this is to say, Go Not Broncos!!!