Russell Wilson has been unusually outspoken about his desires for his situation in Seattle in the last week, and it has driven new interest.
The Seahawks have received calls at an increasing rate in recent days on Wilson, NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero and Mike Garafolo reported. It’s a natural outcome when a star player makes his displeasure even somewhat public, but it’s additionally interesting because of where Wilson stands within the organization.
He’s entering the third year of a five-year contract that pays him an average of $35 million per year, includes a $32 million cap number in 2021, and a no-trade clause. If Seattle was interested in moving him, it would have to first get Wilson’s approval on the destination.
Meanwhile, Wilson has been involved on organizational decisions, having “a big voice in the hiring of new offensive coordinator Shane Waldron,” per Pelissero. Wilson also pushed for the Seahawks to add Antonio Brown, Pelissero reported, before Brown ultimately landed with the Buccaneers.
Wilson sat in the same suite as NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell during Super Bowl LV and watched Brown score a touchdown on a pass from Tom Brady. Wilson was sitting there because his Seahawks couldn’t make it out of Super Wild Card Weekend.
Seattle fell to the Los Angeles Rams, 30-20, in that wild-card game, one in which Wilson was sacked five times. He pointed to how many times he was sacked in 2020 as a problem for the Seahawks, essentially telling the front office: Find players who will protect me better.
But Wilson is also a player who extends plays with his feet, leading to some of his greatest highlights — and a growing reliance on holding on to the ball longer than a typical NFL quarterback would. Frankly, such a tendency — not the offensive line’s ability — gets him sacked sometimes. It’s clear to see on the tape.
“They have a vertical strike-type offense, yet you have comments right now that quite frankly can’t have gone over well with your offensive linemen, your offensive line coach, certainly with your personnel department,” Pelissero said of Wilson’s words about Seattle needing to improve up front.
The Seahawks have given no indication that they’re interested in moving Wilson, per Pelissero, but there’s another intriguing wrinkle to this, from Garafolo.
“There is a day, I don’t know, maybe in the not-too-distant future, where Russell Wilson is a quarterback for a team that is not the Seattle Seahawks,” Garafolo said during Thursday’s NFL NOW. “This is really a, I don’t want to say rocky relationship, but it’s a relationship where Russ is always wanting stuff — including money, by the way. In the last two contract negotiations, things have gotten hairy at times. And Russ and his agent have held out for every last dollar. It’s not like a Patrick Mahomes situation.
“Russell Wilson has done short-term deals, four-year extensions, and that’s hampered the Seahawks at times in their ability to go spend money elsewhere on the roster. In the meantime, Russ always kind of wants something and he’s always kind of knocking on the door, and saying, ‘We should do this, we should do that.’ He’s a high-energy guy and he’s always kind of going, going, going, looking to make himself better, how to make the team better, and I just think at some point in the future the Seahawks go, ‘You know what Russ you have your fresh start elsewhere, we’ll look to turn this over to another quarterback at some point in the future.’
“I don’t think it’s this year, but with two years left on that contract after this season, I think it’s fair to start questioning when the end of the line will be for Russell Wilson — especially when he comes out and starts saying these things that you know aren’t going well with that front office.”
Now, that raises an eyebrow. It’s well known that Wilson is the type to give full effort and emotion to his pursuits on the football field, and apparently he carries that into closed-door meetings, as well. But there are parameters in which all NFL teams must operate, and after fighting to remain a contender for the better part of a decade with Wilson’s involvement, it’s not difficult to see fatigue setting in, especially when Wilson goes public with his desires.
At his peak, Wilson is a dynamite quarterback. He’s been a favorite to win MVP in the first halves of each of the last two seasons. But the Seahawks haven’t found a way to return to their elite level of play that saw them reach two Super Bowls between 2013 and 2014.
Faces have come and gone, while Wilson has remained cemented in the center of the Seahawks’ success. The same was said of Tom Brady not too long ago.
“It sort of feels a little — a little — like the winding down the Tom Brady era with New England,” Garafolo said. “With how Brady wanted to be surrounded by talent and the relationship with him and the coaching staff and certainly wore down over time. It starts to feel a little like that with Russell Wilson. Again, I think he’s their quarterback in 2021. … But we’ve heard the rumblings in the past that they were looking to move up in the draft a couple of years ago.
“At some point this all comes to a head I think. It just might not be this year.”
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