Seahawks trade scenarios: Chris Jones back on the table?
Why players are holding out and what the Seahawks can do about it, 8/24/2023
If the NFL is becoming a league that favors “positionless” players, then somebody forgot to tell the Arizona Cardinals. Three years after picking positionless Isaiah Simmons with the eighth overall selection, the Cardinals traded Simmons to the Giants on Thursday for a seventh rounder.
Simmons is hardly the first or last player that Arizona will get rid of this offseason in their latest bid to rebuild. There is a non-zero chance that Kyler Murray will play zero more games for the Cardinals. I don’t expect that Arizona will trade Murray now, while his value is at its lowest point in history, but the new Cardinals coaching staff and front office could just be getting started on selling off any pieces on the team besides the ones they’ve added this year, as well as safety Budda Baker.
The team could have traded Baker earlier in the offseason when he expressed frustration with his contract, so the Cardinals updated his contract. That makes it sound like head coach Jonathan Gannon doesn’t want to rebuild without him. I bet almost everyone else can go.
That includes receivers Rondale Moore and Hollywood Brown, tackle Kelvin Beachum, and linebacker Zaven Collins, Arizona’s first round pick the year after Simmons. I don’t see why the team wouldn’t listen to calls about running back James Conner, tight end Zach Ertz, and tackle D.J. Humphries even after restructuring their contracts this offseason.
If the Cardinals trade or release another three or more players with “perceived value” like Simmons, people will say that Arizona is “tanking”, but what’s the point of that claim? The Cardinals don’t need to do anything to tank. They’re simply just that bad already and will be in the running for the number one pick (two times over because they have the Houston Texans first rounder also) in 2024 with or without players like Collins and Brown.
But Arizona’s “everybody’s gotta go!” sale is hardly the only story on the NFL trade market and not every situation is based on a team intentionally trying to lose. Simmons could be the first of many players who are moved between now and the NFL trade deadline on Halloween—a potential sign of changing times in a league that is not known for nearly as many deals as the NBA and MLB, probably based around the fact that football players have never been paid this much money before.
Take Nick Bosa, for example.
He’s not the first elite edge rusher to want to become the NFL’s highest-paid defensive player after four seasons. In 1989, Reggie White was the best defensive player in the NFL—imagine a career start better than Bosa’s, White had 39 sacks in only 28 games over the previous two seasons—and he held out from the Eagles until August 22nd, missing training camp and preseason. Finally the two sides agreed to a four-year contract that had over $6 million guaranteed.
I know inflation exists and the salary cap has gone up, but it hasn’t gone up that much. Let’s say that White got $2 million per year in 1989. By inflation, that would be $5 million in 2023. Whatever “risk” the Eagles were taking by signing the best defensive player in the league to a new contract, they could handle it in the worst case scenario. There’s nothing that makes that contract a bad deal for Philadelphia, even if the salary cap was much lower.
Nick Bosa is a great player too, but there’s far more risk with him than there was with White in 1989. Bosa—who missed virtually all of the 2020 season—probably wants to be paid like Aaron Donald, by far the highest-paid defensive player in the NFL. It’s interesting to consider that while everybody was laughing at how the Rams were doing business in recent years, and they’re stuck in between a rock and a Cards place in the NFC West now because of it, they do get one last laugh: Players like Bosa and Chris Jones are holding out from their teams because they want to be paid like Donald instead of like everybody else.
Donald’s $31.6 million average annual salary is 30% higher than the next-biggest contract for any player at his position. And it was signed a year earlier than most of the ones behind him. His deal is also still over $3 million more than T.J. Watt’s AAV with the Steelers, the highest for any edge rusher.
In the last 30 years, the NFL has transitioned from a league where a team was afraid to pay an All-Timer over $2 million per season to one in which players of all kinds are holding out for money that is at least 10-15 times greater than that. Bosa probably wants at least a four-year, $120 million contract with over $100 million guaranteed. Same for Chris Jones, who tweeted this week that he can hold out until Week 8 if he wants to before his risks not becoming a free agent in 2024.
Don’t interpret that as me saying that “players are wrong” for doing that or “teams are wrong” for not sharing the wealth. I’m not talking about right and wrong, I’m only looking for answers as to the “Why”. Why are so many players and teams at odds right now? Because now players aren’t just looking over at their peers and seeing a difference of tens of thousands of dollars…
They’re seeing differences in tens of millions of dollars.
Add RB Jonathan Taylor, TE T.J. Hockenson, RB Josh Jacobs to a list of players who don’t feel they’re being paid fairly.
Some teams are in the position of saying, “Yeah, we can do that” and it’s really only a matter of luck if those franchises are already lined up with the players who want to be paid more money. When they’re not, this is when you see trades like A.J. Brown-to-the-Eagles or Bradley Chubb-to-the-Dolphins.
This is what I’ve always said was the crux of the Russell Wilson trade: He was coming to a point in his career where he wanted another contract extension at a time when the Seahawks were not interested in giving it to him or really any quarterback. Seattle had too many needs and not enough resources to compete with any quarterback, not just Wilson.
Now the Seahawks are in a much different position than they were in March of 2022. Now could actually be a time in which Pete Carroll and John Schneider feel—as they did in the early-to-mid 2010s, when Seattle executed several major trades for big name players—that the Seahawks are on the precipice of contending for another Super Bowl if they add a blue chip player.
Or even a few green chippers.
A month ago, I wrote about Chris Jones and why the Seattle Seahawks need to be involved in any trade discussions that the Kansas City Chiefs would be willing to have with other teams and I stand by that. Maybe the Chiefs are open to those talks, maybe they haven’t been whatsoever and it’s a moot point. Until it isn’t. Like, say, if Halloween is coming up and Jones hasn’t joined the team yet.
In today’s bonus article, I will re-visit Chris Jones, as well as some other trade options that I think could be out there and whether they fit the Seattle Seahawks right now. If you haven’t joined Regular Joes for the incredible bargain of $5 per month or $55 for an entire year, what are you holding out for?