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My plea to the Seahawks following Russell Wilson trade: Please don't draft a QB in 2022
INSTANT REACTION TO THE RUSSELL WILSON TRADE WITH SAM GOLD
I know exactly where I was when the Seattle Seahawks drafted Russell Wilson, and I’ll always know what I was doing when they traded him to the Denver Broncos 10 years later. The Seahawks turned a third round pick into two firsts, two seconds, and two Super Bowls.
Things could be worse.
On April 27, 2012, I was working out at a 24-Hour Fitness in Carson, California (not a brag, I was in poor shape) and watching the third round of the NFL Draft on one of the TVs. I took my eyes off the screen for a split-second, then suddenly look back and they’ve announced that the Seahawks selected quarterback Russell Wilson out of Wisconsin. The couch, the reaction by Ashton, and the duality of feeling both excited and whelmed at the same time.
The exhilarating feeling of Seattle actually drafting a quarterback—Wilson was the highest-drafted Seahawks QB since Rick Mirer in 1993 and only he and Dan McGwire were picked earlier than the third round—was balanced by all the analysts who swore up and down that Russell Wilson would be a highly-respected career backup. I found myself squarely in the “Matt Flynn will start” camp all summer based mostly on the fact that Wilson would have to be the first sub-6’ quarterback since Fran Tarkenton to end up as a franchise player.
There were many arguments on Field Gulls in 2012 and by the third preseason game of the year, I knew that I had ended up on the wrong side of all of them.
Wilson had the greatest (and arguably most impactful) preseason performance I’ve ever seen and he did the unthinkable by starting as a third round rookie for an NFL team that most knew prior to 2012 was on the rise. Though Flynn did lose the job on his own a little bit, it was purely a knockout punch by Wilson that earned him the right to be one of the rare Super Bowl-winning quarterbacks who can say he was a Week 1 career starter.
Over the next 10 years, I wrote more words about Russell Wilson than I have any other human on this planet. I sent literally thousands of tweets about him, most of which were simply interesting stats I had found on Pro-Football-Reference that made him stand out as one of the most unique quarterbacks in NFL history, year after year. Whether it was how well he stacked up against all rookie QBs, or all second-year QBs, or “with in a QB’s first five years”, or QBs starting on Monday Night Football, or NFL players with the most Adjusted Value to start a career, I centered most of my tweets and takes around that one person.
I will always appreciate the fact that for the first 10 years of my career writing about the Seahawks, I only had to cover a quarterback other than Russell Wilson about 12 times. Between Tarvaris Jackson and Charlie Whitehurst for most of 2011 and Geno Smith in 2021 (at which point I had already started covering the Rams), there was nobody other than Russell Wilson starting at quarterback. It will be the bookends to his career with the Seahawks that will truly magnify how rare it is to find a quarterback of his caliber.
But if the team wasn’t confident that they could compete for a Super Bowl next season, then Tuesday’s move was the only choice.
Based on the way that Seattle is setup in the NFC West going into the year, and the probability that Wilson would turn to demanding a trade in 2023 and lowering his value on the market, Tuesday’s move was the only choice.
The Seahawks traded Wilson and a fourth round pick to the Broncos for the ninth overall pick in this year’s draft, a 2023 first round pick, second round picks in 2022 and 2023, a fifth round pick in 2022, plus QB Drew Lock, TE Noah Fant, and DE Shelby Harris. Additionally, Seattle gets $11 million in salary cap relief for 2022 and they’ve also lopped off their financial commitment to Wilson in 2023. The Seahawks are now up there as having the most 2022 and 2023 cap space in the NFL. In fact, this move could elevate Seattle from having the second-most cap space next year, to having the most.
It means that the Seahawks haven’t drafted well enough to warrant second contracts for their picks, but also that there’s plenty of room to spend on the first wave of free agents who are young enough to be expected to contribute in 2023 and beyond; I expect Pete Carroll still favors acquiring premium players when they are 25 or younger.
There are not many deals in history to compare it to, but the Seahawks made off with a far better haul than what the Detroit Lions got for Matthew Stafford.
The Lions traded Stafford to the LA Rams for a 2022 first round pick (32nd overall), a 2023 first round pick, a 2021 third round pick, and Jared Goff.
Immediately you can see that by trading for an immediate pick, the Seahawks receive a top-10 selection instead of the last pick of the first round. It is already starting to look like Detroit will be looking at another very late first round pick in 2023. The next difference is that Seattle received two second round picks instead of one third round pick. And finally, a team is better off receiving Drew Lock than Goff; neither team made the deal needing a good starting QB in return, only a capable one.
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Detroit has had to pay an exorbitant amount for Goff and the Seahawks will owe Lock very little. He might not even make the final roster. Harris is a veteran pickup, offsets the cost of Russ a little bit, and could play a role in Seattle’s defense but it doesn’t matter that much right now. And Noah Fant is a recent first round pick tight end with one year and a potential fifth-year option on his contract. Did you notice David Njoku get the franchise tag? Mike Gesicki? Dalton Schultz?
Young tight ends are at a premium.
This trade was a MASSIVE haul for Russell Wilson. Who is the next quarterback?
It doesn’t matter, but for Seattle’s sake, I hope it’s not a first round rookie.
The next quarterback should be exactly someone like Drew Lock or Davis Mills. He should not be there to win games. He should be there to give other players on the offense a chance to learn their jobs better in 2022. Someone who can at least throw a few bombs to DK Metcalf. Someone who gives his offensive line a legitimate chance to hold their pass blocks. Someone who does an amazing job of handing the ball off to Rashaad Penny, who is now affordable.
It should not be any of the quarterbacks in the 2022 NFL Draft and I could not think of a bigger waste of this opportunity than the Seahawks doing anything other than picking the best available non-QB in the first round. Seattle drafting a quarterback with a top-10 pick this year would be NFL malpractice, and will eventually be what ends the Pete Carroll era.
Disagree? Tell me why:
Even if there was a single quarterback in the 2022 draft class who deserves to be a top-10 pick (there isn’t), he certainly wouldn’t fall to the Seahawks at pick nine. We saw the Rams and Eagles make massive trades up for fairly average QB prospects in 2016; the Bears trade up for Mitchell Trubisky in 2017; a flurry of deals for Sam Darnold, Josh Allen, and Josh Rosen in 2018; and a reach on Daniel Jones in 2019.
Essentially, if you’re projected as a QB who “could go ninth” and then there’s no other QBs in front of you, then you’re not going ninth. You’re going first.
Now you may be thinking, “Well, what if there are multiple QBs worth going in the top 10 and Seattle chooses the second of those?” Again—there’s not even one consensus first round quarterback, let alone two. If the Giants reach on Kenny Pickett at six, that’s not going to increase the value of reaching on Malik Willis at nine.
But most exciting and relevant of all is this: There’s still not one quarterback in this draft worth a top-10 pick.
And even if there was one and somehow he made it past seven other teams (including the Lions, Texans, Giants (twice), Panthers, and Falcons), what could be a worse situation for him than going to the 2022 Seahawks? The 2022 Seahawks are a room with no glass in the windows, no roof, no refrigerator, no running water, and no floorboards. In other words… YOU CAN’T MOVE IN YET.
READ MORE: 9 NEW FREE AGENT TARGETS FOLLOW RUSS TRADE
Now picture that the 2023 quarterback class is EXCEPTIONAL, even in the modern era, and it becomes evident beyond argument that drafting a quarterback in 2022 who would block a selection next year is the same as putting a firecracker in a gas tank and running away.
The only feasible moves for the Seahawks in the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft are:
Draft the best player available who isn’t a quarterback
Trade down and then draft the best player available who isn’t a quarterback
Trade up and draft the best available player who isn’t a quarterback
Drafting an offensive tackle would be the wisest move and it is the same thing that Pete and John did when they were rebooting the franchise in 2010 with Russell Okung. But then getting the opportunity to draft Earl Thomas again, if Kyle Hamilton lasts that long, might also be influential.
Anything other than wasting the franchise’s first top-10 pick since 2010 would be twice as disappointing as any selection that the Raiders have ever made.
Don’t do it, Seattle. Don’t wish to have that immediate rush of excitement of drafting a quarterback in lieu of a long-term relationship that will satisfy you for many years to come. Why even believe that the first round of the draft is the only way to go?
Have you already forgotten about Russell Wilson?
There’s a new episode of the Seaside Joe podcast—INSTANT REACTION TO THE TRADE WITH YOUTUBE STAR SAM GOLD, 95K SUBS GO FOLLOW—and you can listen to it on Soundcloud, iTunes, or search “Seaside Joe: A Football Podcast” on your apps!
In it, I give my reaction to Russell Wilson being traded, talk to Samuel Gold (who breaks down Wilson’s game film every week for Field Gulls) to get his reaction, and we discuss the positives and negatives of the deal, as well as the futures of the Seahawks and Broncos following this move.