Despite struggles, Seahawks offseason continues to look like a masterclass in rebuilding
One of the most popular Seaside Joe newsletters from the summer was a critique of Bill Barnwell’s assessment for ESPN that the Seahawks had the worst offseason in the NFL. It’s nothing against double-B personally, I just couldn’t fathom how the “brains guy” wouldn’t at least see value in a team unloading a contractual burden* for two first and two second round picks at a time when the same writer wouldn’t have pegged Seattle as Super Bowl contenders anyway.
*Whether you wanted to pay Russell Wilson or not, it’s not an insult to say that paying anybody $240 million is a burden, even those who are worth it
To me, the Seahawks trade was the inevitable outcome for some franchise quarterbacks once the league crossed over the $30 million per year threshold with Matt Ryan in 2018. Some teams would pay any price. But some teams would not hold that same value in the quarterback position.
Is it any surprise that the someone was Pete Carroll? Seattle didn’t spend the farm on Wilson, they fell backwards into him with a third round pick and went through two extensions because they couldn’t bear the thought of telling Seahawks fans that just weren’t that into him. Or more accurately, they’re just not that into quarterbacks.
I think that could be why we’ve heard numerous times that John Schneider was into Patrick Mahomes and Josh Allen. These were potential opportunities to get cheaper at quarterback and finally Seattle hit a point where they could no longer worry about not having a replacement ready to go.
Or at least, to not worry about having a young replacement in place.
Wilson’s three-game absence in 2021 gave Carroll his first opportunity to see what the offense would look like today without Wilson. While I am not as certain as others that Geno Smith will have a starting career that goes far beyond 2022, this is clearly Carroll’s preferred modus operandi on offense: Someone who follows the plan, protects the football (which Wilson was also adept at), and doesn’t worry about how he is perceived by others.
Smith has consistently stressed that he’s just “one of 11” on offense and didn’t want to receive credit for winning NFC Offensive Player of the Week last week. It’s not that Wilson wouldn’t have done the same, it’s that with Wilson…it wasn’t really true. He wanted to be the most important player on offense, he usually was, and sometimes he was the only player on offense.
Which is when the Seahawks started to become boring and non-competitive in the playoffs.
So to me, surely this is something that double-B, of all analysts, could understand. The analytics showed that Seattle’s offense was consistently getting worse and that the team was a far reach from what they were in the 2013 era. I assumed the salary cap experts would praise the Seahawks for trading out not only Wilson’s contract, but his future contract, for three bargain veterans and four rookie deals. I had to fill-in for the salary cap experts and did the math myself. TL;DR - They save a lot!
In my opinion, the 2022 Seattle Seahawks were the perfect storm to have a franchise try something that had not even been attempted prior to the Detroit Lions dealing Matthew Stafford a year earlier: Trade a franchise quarterback in the middle of his presumed prime and rebuild more like a baseball team than like a football team.
Except that Seattle out-did Detroit: The Seahawks haul for Wilson was much better than what the Lions got for Stafford. (That’s without getting into how Stafford played in his debut with the Rams as opposed to Wilson’s start with the Broncos.) Detroit got two firsts (the first of which was 32nd overall), a third, and had to take Jared Goff’s bloated contract.
Seattle got two firsts (the first of which was ninth overall, the second of which…we’ll see but it could be two top-ten picks), two seconds (the first of which was 41st overall, almost as high as the Lions pick from the Rams), and three players on the roster who aren’t eating much cap space. Noah Fant could even be good.
I figured that the benefit of this trade for the Seahawks was so obvious to everyone at the time that ESPN would be considering Seattle for THE NUMBER ONE SPOT! Not just above-average, but I believe it doesn’t take a Seahawks bias to see how Seattle’s plan, while unusual, was just the thing that those self-professed “nerds” would be salivating over. Hence the article to express my dismay of how their take could be the exact opposite of that.
How does the trade look five weeks into the season? The Seahawks masterclass in rebuilding goes well beyond that one trade, but it did start with that decision. This is everything big that Seattle did and did not do in the 2022 offseason and how it looks today: