We’ve now reached the one-year anniversary of the Seattle Seahawks making the monumental decision to trade Russell Wilson to the Denver Broncos for two first-round picks, two second-round picks, Noah Fant, Shelby Harris, and Drew Lock. The greatest quarterback in Seahawks franchise history and one of the greatest players in Seattle sports history was dealt! How could this be?
I’ll give you an idea of how I felt. I ain’t going to hide my thoughts in the moment.
You could argue the Jamal Adams trade somewhat led to the Russell Wilson trade due to lack of first-round picks.— Field Gulls (@FieldGulls) March 8, 2022
Which makes the Adams trade one of the worst in NFL history. https://t.co/4KtOV9EZNt
(I’m still not a fan of the Adams trade and never will be, but I might have been a tad over the top)
This organization bet on Carroll and Schneider over Russell Wilson.— Field Gulls (@FieldGulls) March 8, 2022
Unbelievable. That's the exact outcome I didn't want.
Fire Carroll and Schneider. Today.— Mookie Alexander, Unofficially (@mookiealexander) March 8, 2022
(Yeah that ain’t happening any time soon! If Russ couldn’t allegedly make it happen, some idiot writer can’t do that either)
I said it last year but now that the Seahawks actually did it: The whole roster has to be blown up.— Field Gulls (@FieldGulls) March 8, 2022
Don't half-ass it. Go for the fire sale.
(The roster did not have to be blown up)
Given the shittiness of the 2021 season, I suspect a lot of us felt a lot of anger among fans that this happened. Hell, there’s probably still displeasure among some of you that Wilson is elsewhere and that Carroll is still the head coach.
So far, advantage Pete and the Seahawks. Geno Smith (who wasn’t yet re-signed at the time of the trade) started every game and played every snap, put up genuine top-10 numbers and broke Seahawks franchise records, won Comeback Player of the Year, and helped lead the team to a 9-8 record and a playoff berth. The 2022 Draft produced the best instant impact out of a rookie class for the Seahawks since 2012. Meanwhile, Russell’s year one in Denver... stunk. We’ve chronicled his struggles enough that I won’t rehash the stats or the other stuff. It stunk for him, it stunk for the Broncos, it was great for the Seahawks because they have the 5th overall pick next month.
Wilson’s reputation has been sparkling for much of his career but his disastrous 2022 has seen him attacked both as a player and as a person on a level previously not this severe. Perhaps he’d still be a high-level quarterback had he stayed with the Seahawks, but that’s a fantasy we’ll never know the answer to. If that was the start of his hard decline I dread to think how the fanbase would’ve reacted to him having a stinker of a season in a Seattle uniform.
But the story isn’t over just because one season played out. If the Broncos are great, Wilson is great again, and the Seahawks (and Geno, in particular) have a heavy downturn, there might be some shifting opinions about this trade. Or maybe Geno Smith’s success is sustainable (with or without a rookie quarterback), an aging Wilson cannot be salvaged, and Carroll can build another contender at long last. It’s a bit too early to declare one way or another on this trade, but the idea of the Seahawks instantly collapsing without Russell didn’t materialize.
Enough time has passed that I still think it’s a bit surreal how the Wilson era ended, even though there were warning signs from Wilson himself and reports about the Seahawks mulling trading Wilson years before they actually did. I’m not interested in rewriting history and downplaying Wilson’s importance to this franchise’s success, because he was really damn important and at his best he was elite and has paved the way for undersized quarterbacks to be #1 overall picks and not third-round fliers. At the same time, I probably should’ve listened to January 2021 me after the Rams playoff loss, because I was very much questioning Wilson’s future in Seattle at the time.
Next season marks year ten of Wilson’s career and he’ll be 33 years old in November. His contract is up after 2023. If there was a clear “philosophical difference” that led to Schottenheimer getting canned then I can’t imagine a scenario where Wilson’s vision of the offense he wants to run aligns with Carroll’s. Wilson said he wants significant input in the hiring process of his next OC, and justifiably so. But if under a new OC it’s more of the same Jekyll and Hyde offense, then Pete Carroll has to be on the hot seat, and Wilson’s future with the Seahawks beyond his current contract must be put into serious doubt. Despite his desire to play well into his 40s, the insane number of hits and sacks he’s taken is not conducive to still being an NFL starter at 40.
The question is, can Wilson stay great through 2021? If he can’t then we’re watching the beginning of the end of his glorious career. If he can, then the Seahawks’ championship window theoretically remains open.
As a critic of the trade and as someone who wanted the Seahawks to keep Wilson but have at least a new coach, I also see why the trade was done for football-based reasons. The history of scrambling quarterbacks aging gracefully well into their 30s is not deep. That Wilson went a decade before missing any playing time is a testament to his legendary durability given his style of play and frequently bad offensive lines. If you’re one to believe Carroll “held Wilson back” I think it had far less to do with “heh heh Pete runs too much” and more to do with the really poor OL investments during his first contract extension. With all of that said, Wilson is also undeniably slower, his elusiveness has dipped, all while he still almost flatly refuses to attack the middle of the field. Wilson’s an exceptional quarterback but there’s warranted hesitancy in paying him $50 million a year when some of the traits that made him so great are declining.
Wilson will have virtually no choice but to be a traditional pocket quarterback late in his career in order to still consistently succeed, and perhaps Sean Payton can make it happen, but ultimately the offense that Russell Wilson runs from now until retirement is not the Sean Payton offense or Pete Carroll offense or Nathaniel Hackett offense; it’s the Russell Wilson offense. Considering Wilson had a tendency to get sacked at a significant rate even behind four future NFL starters in Wisconsin, it may not matter how great an OL he has because he will get sacked more than most other QBs. At some point, the magic runs out, and I’m not confident that Wilson is the type of quarterback who can change his game enough to age as gracefully as Messrs Brady, Manning, and Rodgers. For that reason alone, I believe the trade was ultimately the right call despite my initial judgment. He’ll be back for his Ring of Honor induction down the line when we let bygones be bygones.
Anyway, I’m rambling on. What are your feelings on the Wilson trade a year removed from that unforgettable day?