If the Seahawks do trade Russell Wilson, the NFL QB market is more than robust than usual in 2022
Thinking the unthinkable, planning the unplannable
Many people will write about Russell Wilson trade rumors this offseason, that much is already clear.
My intention today is not to address rumors and not to speculate on what the Seattle Seahawks could do, should do, or will do when it comes to testing the waters on a potential Russell Wilson trade. More than my gut, my knowledge of how John Schneider and Pete Carroll tend to operate in these situations tells me that the Seahawks will field calls from teams interested in making a trade for Wilson and that Seattle will listen to them with an open mind.
That’s what any good franchise should do because the Seahawks are in the business of doing what’s best for the Seahawks, not what’s best for any individual player. In that same vein, Wilson must do what’s best for Wilson, not what’s necessarily best for the Seahawks. When it comes to the quarterback position, what’s in the best interest of the QB is almost always what’s in the best interest of the franchise, but this is one of those matters when it may not be.
However, as I’ve been writing about for the last couple of years, the bond between “franchise” and “franchise quarterback” has never been as weak as it is right now around the league. And that also means that if Seattle must make a change at quarterback, there may not be a better time in history to look for a replacement.
In 2012, Peyton Manning left the Indianapolis Colts and signed with the Denver Broncos. The Broncos reached the Super Bowl in two of the next four seasons.
That same year, the 49ers reached the Super Bowl with Colin Kaepernick at QB, a player that only necessitated the use of a high second round pick one year earlier.
The Seahawks reached the Super Bowl in 2013 and 2014 with Russell Wilson, just a third round pick in 2012.
In 2017, the Eagles won the Super Bowl with Nick Foles at quarterback, but with the caveat that Philadelphia didn’t have to lean on their backup until the final two months.
In 2019, the 49ers got back to the Super Bowl, once again winning the NFC with a quarterback who only cost them a second round pick. (And way too much money.) They’re banking on Jimmy Garoppolo doing it again in the next couple of weeks.
And in 2020, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers won the Super Bowl with their own “Manning” brother, the best Manning brother of them all… Tom “Manning” Brady. A free agent signing.
This season’s playoffs has included Joe Burrow (second-year player), Mac Jones (rookie), and Jalen Hurts (second-year player), while Monday night’s game between the Rams and Cardinals features a major trade acquisition in Matthew Stafford and a 2019 draft investment in Kyler Murray. Next week, Ryan Tannehill, a low-key trade acquisition in 2019, will lead the top-seeded Titans against the Bills.
Of the 14 playoff teams in 2021, only Derek Carr, Aaron Rodgers, Dak Prescott, Jimmy Garoppolo, Patrick Mahomes, and Ben Roethlisberger joined their teams prior to 2019; Mahomes and Garoppolo joined their teams in 2017 but didn’t contribute until 2018 and 2019, respectively.
The idea of the Seahawks without Russell Wilson could be terrifying to Seattle and the fans, but soon it will become more apparent to folks that transitions at quarterback are happening with more regularity than ever before—and in fact some franchises are risking more by staying the course than they are in taking a leap of faith that a team could actually improve by acting out of logic instead of fear.
Again, I’m not endorsing that the Seahawks make a trade and I’m not implying that Wilson’s trade rumors will result in any serious conversations among league executives in selling the farm for his services—but Seattle will listen and the offers could make saying “No” a lot more difficult for Pete and John than it would have been even one or two years ago.
A) Because of recent history and the present playoff field
B) Because of the potential trade market at quarterback that stretches far beyond the three headlining names of Russell Wilson, Aaron Rodgers, and Deshaun Watson.
The fact that those three players could be on the move only further emphasizes the possibility that several more big names —just like Jared Goff, Sam Darnold, and Carson Wentz becoming collateral damage from the Stafford deal—will join them.
The BIG Names
QB Deshaun Watson, Texans
QB Aaron Rodgers, Packers
QB Russell Wilson, Seahawks
We know that Watson will never play for the Texans again. His legal team has had almost a year to settle everything, knowing that this crucial offseason was coming, so is it now fair to say that some team will pull the trigger? I think so and that most likely will need to be the first domino to fall, just as it was with Matthew Stafford-for-Jared Goff in 2021.
Everything related to Aaron Rodgers will depend on how Green Bay’s season ends: in glory or in shame. If it is in glory, then the Packers could entertain trading Jordan Love to the highest bidder—is he still worth even a second round pick to anyone? The Packers have major salary cap considerations to make—more than $40 million over the 2022 salary cap and Davante Adams is just one of their key free agents—and trading Rodgers opens $19.2 million. But if Green Bay trades Rodgers, I think we can automatically assume they miss the playoffs in 2022 if Jordan Love is the fallback.
The Change of Scenery QBs
QB Tua Tagovailoa, Dolphins
QB Daniel Jones, Giants
With new head coaches in both locations, Miami and New York could be looking for shifts in philosophy when they start their offseasons. The Giants and Dolphins should also be considered players for the BIG THREE because they have draft capital, young quarterbacks, and an intense desire to not miss the playoffs again. New York has two top-10 picks to go with Jones.
The “Surprise” Vets
QB Carson Wentz, Colts
QB Derek Carr, Raiders
QB Jared Goff, Lions
QB Kirk Cousins, Vikings
We know that the Raiders and Vikings are also interviewing new head coaches, new franchise directions. Las Vegas frees $19.8 million by trading Carr, an adequate starter who simply can’t elevate a team like the Raiders into being legit playoff contenders. He might be a better fit for a good team who needs a veteran leader, potentially Miami, Pittsburgh, New Orleans, Washington—but honestly, are any of them better situations than the Raiders? I just don’t understand getting tied to Derek Carr unless you absolutely have to do it.
Kirk Cousins has a $45 million cap hit and a $35 million base salary. A team could take it on. It’s surprisingly not THAT bad for Kirk Cousins but he has to go to a place that has a) cap space and b) is already in the playoffs. There aren’t many teams like that—the closest could be the Steelers, or for a very dark horse situation, the Colts. Indy will open up between $13 and $29 million by moving on from Carson Wentz after one season. Kirk Cousins and the Colts in 2022?
Carson Wentz and the Vikings in 2022?
And the Lions tied themselves to Jared Goff’s contract but they aren’t totally stuck: they could save money by trading him and if a team only has to pay his $10.6 million base salary, it’s not so bad. Detroit could try out another QB, they could draft someone, and Goff could go to a team that just needs a placeholder for one season—similar to the 2021 Lions.
The BIG DECISION QBs
QB Jalen Hurts, Eagles
QB Tyler Huntley, Ravens OR QB Lamar Jackson, Ravens
QB Jimmy Garoppolo, 49ers
QB Baker Mayfield, Browns
Are the 49ers ready to start the Trey Lance era next season? Does Baltimore prefer the impending contract extension of Lamar Jackson or a longer look at Tyler Huntley? Can the Eagles really stop their QB search at Jalen Hurts?
I didn’t include Drew Lock, Teddy Bridgewater, Jameis Winston, Taysom Hill, Sam Darnold, or Taylor Heinicke because I don’t view them as adequate starters.