National Football League
Seahawks traded Russell Wilson to avoid paying him, but still need QB
National Football League

Seahawks traded Russell Wilson to avoid paying him, but still need QB

Updated Sep. 1, 2022 4:12 p.m. ET

By Eric D. Williams
FOX Sports NFC West Writer

The Denver Broncos paid Russell Wilson top-of-the-market quarterback money Thursday, agreeing to a five-year, $245 million extension that includes $165 million in guaranteed money.

The Seattle Seahawks never intended to sign the best quarterback in franchise history to that kind of contract, with Wilson's play declining and the Wisconsin product turning 34 years old in two months.


And Wilson, who wanted more control over the offense, probably would not have signed a lucrative, long-term deal in Seattle.

That's among the handful of reasons Seattle moved Wilson to Denver in a blockbuster offseason trade that has him playing against his former team to start the regular season at Lumen Field on Monday Night Football on Sep. 12.

Seahawks general manager John Schneider didn't blink. He'd been through this before, as director of football operations for the Green Bay Packers in 2008 when they traded away Brett Favre to the New York Jets with first-round pick Aaron Rodgers waiting in the wings.

That worked out well for the Packers. Here's the problem: the Seahawks did not have anyone near Rodgers' caliber in the team's quarterback room when they traded Wilson to the Broncos.

Instead, incumbent Geno Smith battled newcomer Drew Lock — part of the Wilson trade — for the role.

It wasn't much of a competition, and Smith leads — for now. But coach Pete Carroll said the battle will continue into the regular season due to Lock not getting enough of a shot because he contracted COVID-19.

No matter that the situations aren't exactly similar. Schneider still leans on that experience in Green Bay as the Seahawks attempt to find their next franchise quarterback moving forward, now armed with two first-round selections as well as two second-round picks in the 2023 draft.

"We are all competitors," Schneider told reporters this week. "And we are all professionals, and so we have to handle things as they come our way and try to improve the team as much as we can. I don't know about relishing the opportunity. God rest his soul, I worked for [Former Packers GM] Ted Thompson when I was in Green Bay, and we traded Brett Favre. And Aaron Rodgers was the No. 1 draft pick, but nobody necessarily knew how good he was.

"He turned out to be a big deal. But having that experience, it was calming in a way, or it helped navigate the situation. Everybody and myself and the staff that was involved with it. But yeah, it was a game-changer. It's a big deal."

When Schneider sees Wilson playing well in Denver, he can look at the haul his team received Wilson deal and imagine what the future will look like for the Seahawks.

Along with former Broncos tight end Noah Fant, defensive lineman Shelby Harris and Lock, the Seahawks received picks in this year's draft that they turned into left tackle Charles Cross (first round), edge rusher Boye Mafe (second round), defensive end Tyreke Smith (fifth round) and receiver Dareke Young (seventh round).

The Seahawks will certainly have big plans for next year's Broncos selections, not to mention the millions in cap space they saved by not having Wilson on their books (a reported $11 million in savings for 2022 and millions more in upcoming seasons by not paying the Pro Bowl QB a top-of-market deal).

But the NFL is all about the quarterback position, and until Seattle finds a new franchise signal-caller as the centerpiece of their rebuilding effort, it's hard to deem any trade of one of the best QBs in NFL history a success.

On Sept. 12, Seattle will have a unique, front-row seat to what that looks like on the opposing sidelines when the Broncos come to town.

"It's such a big deal, an agent reached out and was like, ‘Can I get 15 tickets and a suite?'" Schneider told reporters this week. "I'm like, ‘what? That stuff was sold out, like, the day after the schedule came out.'

"It's the Denver Broncos. Russ is there. ... I think Lumen Field is going to be on fire that night."

Eric D. Williams is an NFL writer for FOX Sports. He has covered the Los Angeles Rams for Sports Illustrated, the Los Angeles Chargers for ESPN and the Seattle Seahawks for the Tacoma News Tribune. Follow him on Twitter @eric_d_williams.


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