Ranking Seahawks trade options to replace Russell Wilson at QB in 2022
Deshaun Watson? Gardner Minshew? Jared Goff? Kirk Cousins? Kyler Murray??? There are over 20 names to consider but only a top-five to emerge!
Rumors this week were understandably swirling around the idea that “rival execs” believe the Seattle Seahawks will be aggressive in trading for a “Drew Lock upgrade” at quarterback, and in short order. On Friday, those rumors pointed directly to Deshaun Watson.
I made my feelings on that clear, as you’ll see below, and I don’t believe that the Seahawks will actually come anywhere near the controversial Houston Texans quarterback.
There are, however, at least 20 other quarterbacks in the NFL who are currently under contract for 2022 and viable trade options that could land on the block, if they aren’t already there. I don’t see any reason for Seattle to trade for Watson, but there are a handful of options—ranging from the young and cheap to the old and cheap—that make absolute stunning sense to be with the Seahawks by next Tuesday.
I’ve given my thoughts on over 20 trade options below and I’ll rank my top-five at the end of the post. I’ve scored each QB trade option on a 0-5 scale, with five being “Yes, this makes perfect sense” and 0 being the opposite of that.
I’ll make you a promise before you get started and reach my top-five list: The answers will hurt you and it won’t make you feel good. I apologize for that ahead of time. You’re gonna hate the list, probably. But this isn’t about projecting the moves that you’d love, this is about projecting the moves that could happen.
You didn’t love trading Russ or releasing Bobby Wagner. They still happened.
If you like this Seahawks content and want to encourage me to do more of it, I better get this out of the way before you see the top-five list:
2022 QB Trade Market
Deshaun Watson, Texans (0/5)
I’ve made it clear that: trading for Watson would be the worst move in franchise history.
Kirk Cousins, Vikings (0/5)
Seattle did the right thing by choosing Wilson over Cousins in the 2012 NFL Draft. They’ll do the right thing again by not choosing Cousins to replace Wilson in 2022. Average starting QB with one expensive year left on his contract, Cousins will either stay in Minnesota or become a rental for a playoff contender such as the 49ers.
Ryan Tannehill, Titans (0.5/5)
No reason for Seahawks to pay Tannehill’s $29 million and $27 million base salary over the next two seasons, with the veteran becoming a 36-year-old free agent in 2024. Seattle’s rebuilding vision might not even START until 2024.
Jared Goff, Lions (4/5)
I haven’t seen this name out there much but trading Goff makes a ton of sense for Detroit and his old passing game coordinator is now running the Seahawks’ offense. The Lions could save $16.1 million by trading Goff at the right time and he carries relatively-low base salaries in 2022, 2023, and 2024. Realistically, Goff may never reach the 2023 season on his current contract and because of the cap savings that would come with a release in a year, teams may actually see that as making him a more attractive trade target right now.
Those of you who have followed me for a long time know that I’ve often said Jared Goff is a “bad” quarterback, even as far back as the 2018 season. I caught a lot of flak for that and it turned out that in this one particular case, I was right.
However, Jared Goff may get the last mic drop on me: He’s kind of really sensible for the 2022 Seahawks.
There’s virtually no chance that the Lions can hope to get better than a day three pick for Goff in trade and Seattle could pitch a fourth or fifth round pick to Detroit in order to complete a deal and take him off their hands. The Lions know that Goff isn’t their franchise quarterback and they may want to pull the trigger on Kenny Pickett or Malik Willis in the draft next month. We can pretend that Goff will then become a “bridge QB” but deep down we all know that can’t last longer than three or four games.
Readers may be confused as to how I could endorse the Seahawks trading for such a mediocre starting QB: That’s the only thing Seattle needs at the position right now. A mediocre STARTING QB. Goff is cheap, wouldn’t cost much in trade, and Shane Waldron knows he can rely on Goff to hand the ball off to “the next Todd Gurley” in the Seahawks’ 2022 run-first, run-second, run-third offense.
”You’re saying Jared Goff is a GOOD quarterback?!?! Somebody KILL this writer!!!”
No. Not even close. I’m saying he’s the exact quarterback who a team can push out after one season as they usher in the next era at the position.
But if you want to say that or something else:
Jimmy Garoppolo, 49ers (0/5)
He’s in the same position as Cousins: one year left on his deal, should go to a team that believes it can contend. The two might as well be swapped for one another.
Derek Carr, Raiders (0/5)
Does this really need to be said?
Sam Darnold, Panthers (0.5/5*)
The * caveat here is that Carolina probably ends up releasing Sam Darnold after they acquire a quarterback in trade. He carries an $18.8 million base salary because of his fifth-year option, but is any team going to pay that for maybe the worst starting QB in the NFL over the last two seasons?
Darnold will never become a good starting quarterback but he also doesn’t turn 25 until June. He’s the type of player who Pete Carroll could at least sign to a minimum contract if the Panthers release him in the coming weeks and then let him compete because what do the Seahawks have to lose?
Baker Mayfield, Browns (1/5)
He’s got the same fifth-year option as Darnold, but does have trade value. That’s probably the number one reason Seattle will stay out of it.
What’s the Browns’ number one offensive strength? The running backs.
What’s Pete Carroll’s favorite offensive position? Running backs.
What does Pete want the Seahawks to do well next season? Run the ball.
So then, Baker=Seattle, right? Wrong. Let’s not forget here that the Browns are potentially at their wits’ end with Baker Mayfield, so is it fair for us all to agree that he’s the wrong kind of quarterback for an offense that wants to lead the NFL in rushing? It doesn’t mean that Mayfield can’t be the QB for a team that leads the NFL in rushing—we know that he can—but as a passer we’ve seen that he PAIRS TERRIBLY with that offensive ground attack.
Otherwise, Cleveland would not be trading him.
The Seahawks should not be sacrificing day one and/or day two draft picks to come anywhere near contact with Mayfield; but I had to give him a higher score than the basement options like Cousins and Watson.
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Kyler Murray, Cardinals (1/5)
People made some “size” and “he runs” comparisons to Russell Wilson at the time of the 2019 NFL Draft, but Murray is in fact a horrible fit for Pete Carroll’s offense. He’s another air raid guy and his contract extension demands imply that he’s feeling himself way too much despite being a bottom-10 quarterback after DeAndre Hopkins went on injured reserve last season.
Murray is “excitement in a bottle”, but add in the fact that Arizona would want three first round picks to trade him—this is not going to happen.
Taysom Hill, Saints (3/5)
If you simply want “razzle dazzle” at quarterback, then may I interest you in a player who has a $1.1 million base salary in 2022? As long as New Orleans pays his $9 million roster bonus, the acquiring team would only need to pay Taysom Hill his tiny 2022 salary (dear lord, my number one lord, the top ranked lord of all lords: please give me a “tiny” $1.1 million salary this year) and at most a $6.6 million dead money hit if released in 2023.
There’s also dead money in 2024 and 2025 but nothing that an NFL team can’t swallow.
Oh sure, Taysom Hill’s not, like, a quarterback or whatever… but I’m looking at the 2022 Seahawks and I’m hearing a lot of fans say that they will be happy as long as the team is “interesting” this year. Here you go: a cheap, interesting player who can line up under center and who won’t cost a significant draft pick.
Plus, he was just like Russ in at least one way last year:
Nick Foles, Bears (4.5/5)
A better quarterback than Hill. A cheaper option than Goff. A Super Bowl champion who we know for a fact won’t complain if he’s benched at any point—or even placed on the practice squad. I’ll be interested to see if Chicago tries to pry a third round pick out of a team because they have absolutely no good reason to trade Foles… He’s not a starter and yet he’s capable of starting and that’s something the Bears need behind Justin Fields right now. I don’t think the Bears can reasonably expect the backup to be a rookie or an inexperienced journeyman, so trading Foles just leaves the door open to sign a different Foles.
Despite starting only 21 games over the last six years, Nick Foles has somehow still managed at least one start per year over this six seasons.
He’s bad but he could be good enough for the Seahawks, the one team he started against (and also beat) in 2021.
Case Keenum, Browns (3/5)
Has started 64 games for a total of six different teams. Keenum started two games for the Browns last season and Cleveland went 2-0 in those contests. A better trade option than Mayfield, for Seattle’s current needs at the position. Has some familiarity with a Sean McVay offense, having spent 2019 on Washington’s roster under offensive coordinator Kevin O’Connell.
$6.1 million base salary. Browns may be willing to part with him for day three pick swap.
Daniel Jones, Giants (2.5/5)
If the Giants decide to go through the draft or free agency to acquire a clear replacement for Jones, then the 24-year-old may be available at a day three pick cost. I don’t see there being a huge market for him because truthfully, the odds are extremely thin that Jones eventually pans out.
GMs tend to overrate draft status too, but fans go above and beyond in overreacting to the fact that some player was a “top-10 pick” or a first rounder and so on. I’ve always said the same thing here: It’s a huge deal for a team to be giving up on their “franchise player.”
If there is any sliver of hope left for Daniel Jones, then surely New York will not trade him for a day three pick. Nor should a team sacrifice anything more than a day three pick. If new head coach Brian Daboll thinks he can fix him, then so be it, but in the scenario of Seattle acquiring Jones I wouldn’t think of it as anything more than: “Sure, why the hell not?”
People tend to compare these busts to the absolute best case scenario they can imagine in their heads, but you should be thinking of Daniel Jones more like Sam Darnold going to the Panthers.
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Tua Tagovailoa, Dolphins (1/5)
Wasn’t a fan of him being a first round pick and I don’t see anyone getting more value out of him than new Dolphins head coach Mike McDaniel. Interesting player but not worth the risk to any other team but Miami.
Jordan Love, Packers (1/5)
He oozed “terrible” in his lone start and 2021 was not Love’s rookie season. I don’t see why Green Bay should do anything other than hold onto him for another year and see if he can increase his value by 2023.
Taylor Heinicke, Commanders (4/5)
He’s incredibly cheap. Not because he shops at Save4Less, but he’s got a $2.875 million cap hit and a $1.5 million base salary. Washington just traded for Carson Wentz, so this would give Heinicke a chance to earn another starting job in 2022. He wasn’t terrible as a starter last season, he’s only 29, and Heinicke brings some of that “excitement” that Hill has—but also arm talent.
Low ceiling, high floor, won’t drag down the rest of the offense like many other options on this list.
Gardner Minshew, Eagles (3.5/5)
I have nothing against Minshew, the most-requested quarterback I’ve seen commented on this newsletter and my Seahawks surveys and around the internet… but you all do realize he’s bad, right? I think that’s a reality that needs to be accepted prior to Gardner Minshew becoming the starting quarterback of the Seahawks.
He’s not a good NFL quarterback.
And before you accuse me of being biased against a former Washington State Cougars quarterback because you think I’m “a Huskies fan” or “don’t understand irrational affection for college affiliation” I’m going to do something I’ve never done before. I’m going to show you what my own drunk decisions once led to at a “tattoo party” many years ago:
I’m a Gardner Minshew fan too. I understand that his career stats look ridiculously good for a player who can’t get a shot to start anywhere: 41 TD, 12 INT, 63.2% completions, 93.9 passer rating.
But I think those numbers do a better job of highlighting how much passing stats have changed in the last five years than they do support the theory that Minshew is a hidden gem who keeps getting lost in the shuffle.
Minshew was benched for Mike Glennon and Jake Luton with the Jaguars in 2020. He was only Philly’s number three quarterback last season, prior to the Eagles parting with Joe Flacco midseason. He’s currently on a team that looks desperate to upgrade at quarterback from Jalen Hurts but they aren’t even considering Minshew as an option; and who could know Minshew better by now than the Eagles?
I’m all for trading a seventh round pick for Minshew, but that’s about the value fans should expect in return too. He’ll be entertaining as hell in the media sessions.
Which of these QBs do you want? You have to tell me in the comments after you finish reading!!!
Jalen Hurts, Eagles (0.5/5)
If the Eagles trade for Watson or draft a quarterback early, it’s the last straw for Jalen Hurts. At 24 and having “decent stats” (again, such a misdirect these days) you probably believe Hurts has some potential to become a really good quarterback.
Teams don’t let go of 24-year-olds who might become “really good quarterbacks” though.
I think people can sometimes confuse a “running quarterback” for a “quarterback who would be good in a running offense” but that’s not the case. Hurts led the Eagles with 139 carries last season, followed by Miles Sanders at 137. Pete wants a QB to hand the ball off, not a QB who runs the ball on his own.
Hurts would be a horrible fit for Seattle’s 2022 offense and overpriced in what draft picks it would cost to get him.
Blake Bortles, Saints (2/5)
“But Bortles sucks!”
I know! That’s why he’s on this list. Bortles also worked with Waldron in 2019 and 2020 on the Rams, so he’s got familiarity with the offense. Bortles signed with the Saints in December and is on a futures/reserves contract. Seattle may be interested in having Bortles come in and either repeat his 2017 season (good) or his 2018 season (horrible).
He’d cost nothing, he’d do nothing, but he’d fit like a square peg in a square hole on the roster.
Tyler Huntley, Ravens (N/A)
I put it at maybe a 2-percent chance that the Ravens trade Huntley. More likely that they will commit to Lamar Jackson and find that Huntley is too good, too cheap of a backup to part with him after he played so decently last season.
It would therefore cost the Seahawks (or any team) too much to gamble on Huntley as a starter when that’s not really been proven either. If Seattle could acquire him by say, swapping a third for a fifth, then sure, but that doesn’t make sense for Baltimore.
If the Ravens consider trading Lamar Jackson—who is balking at their contract extension offers right now—then I’ll give that a 0/5 for me. I have no interest in the Seahawks giving up all their draft capital+mega contract for Lamar Jackson.
Jake Browning, Bengals (0/5)
Felt it was fair to put a former Huskies quarterback in here too, offsetting the previous Minshew disrespect.
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My Top-5 Seahawks QB trade targets:
5-Taysom Hill/Case Keenum
Remember, based on what I anticipate the Seahawks’ needs as, not what I necessarily think is the move that will make Seattle any better.
Minshew is perfect for Pete’s offense. Cheap, locals would love him, and what if he pans out? Could be the next Kurt Warner story. I’d love to see him in the locker room for or in interviews. Perfect. If we have to lose, might as well do it while having fun.
As I wrote yesterday my top 3 in no particular order.
Gardner Minshew, he is careful with the ball, he has plenty of swag, and you could get him for a 6th rounder
Colt McCoy if no other reason than he beat us twice in the last two years. The first win came with the G Men. The 2nd win was with the Cardinals last year, he looked very composed and put together a number of 12 play drives; was that as much to do with our defense possibly, but he did make a lot of good decisions. He would have done better than Kyler Murray in the Cards playoff game last year. Murray looked like a deer staring into the headlights of an on coming car, and hit the deck anytime someone got a finger on him.
Marcus Mariota he is a very likeable person both the 12s and his teammates would be behind him. He does suffer with inaccuracies at times, however he can throw deep which we know Pete likes to do. The big Hawaiin can be a physical runner when needs be.
I choose these 3 because they give us a chance to win games.
Kenneth I am confused in what you want the Seahawks to be next year. Pete is way to much of a competitor to go for a real tank job. The rebuild needs to start at the opening of free agency, and we should hear about our desired free agents signing before they go to market. What kind of record do you see for next season compared to what Pete and John see. Victoria Chris Ps Foles to me is a 0/5, and I forgot about Taylor Heinike sorry if that if that is spelled wrong. I would give Taylor a serviceable grade as an NFL QB. So I guess my list is now 4