Guest post: Curtis Allen on Russell Wilson trade narratives

Adding some nuance to the narratives around a Russell Wilson trade

This is a guest post from Curtis Allen

The Russell Wilson trade drama has really shifted into gear in the last three weeks and it has rightly dominated the sports landscape in Seattle.

Several one-line narratives have emerged in the media about a potential trade and they keep being repeated over and over and over again.

This presents a challenge — there is a bit of a danger of these simple viewpoints hardening like concrete.

As we all know, one-line narratives rarely reveal the breadth and width and depth of the situation. Particularly a situation that could shift the balance of power across the league and reshape the face of Seahawks football as we know it for the next 10 years.

– A superstar player being unhappy with one of the NFL’s premier organizations

– A potential trade that could be one of the biggest in NFL history

– Four flagging franchises that could be revitalized by the acquisition of a franchise quarterback in his prime

– One of the NFL’s most decorated coaches starting a whole new cycle of his professional career at a time when most coaches retire and doing it on his terms

This is far, far too big a story to just be dismissed with 10 word answers, no matter how emphatically they are said. Simple answers can blind you to the reality of the situation and only muddy perspectives at a time when truth and objectivity needs every single word it can get its hands on. Every fissure of this story needs to be explored. Nuance is critical.

So here are some thoughts on the narratives that are being discussed in relation to this potentially massive event.

Narrative: The $39m dead cap hit is a big obstacle to a pre-June 1st Russell Wilson trade

Why the narrative has merit:

$39m is over 20% of the total 2021 salary cap for the Seahawks. Having one fifth of your cap dedicated to a player not on your roster is a serious blow to your efforts to build a contending roster in 2021.

There is more resistance to a trade when that player is an all-time Seahawks great.

Even more resistance is added when the reason for eating dead cap is not because he is injured, retired or suspended by the league. He is in his prime and will be lighting it up for another team and perhaps taking them deep in the playoffs.

It would be a particularly hard pill to swallow.

Nuance: The Seahawks have the flexibility available to absorb the hit and not need to shred their roster

The team currently has $4m of cap room. Trading Russell Wilson away will eat $7m of cap room and put them in the red.

Any proceeds from a trade, such as players and 2021 draft picks will lower that number even further.

Further lowering the cap is the fact that they will then need to add a quarterback to the roster.

Here is the good news: The Seahawks currently have over $72million of “movable cap space” on their roster. What is that?

It is non-guaranteed money owed to players. The 2021 cap hit can easily be lowered to get the team under the cap by any combination of negotiating their contract down, extending, restructuring, cutting or trading players.

Furthermore, if the Seahawks trade Russell Wilson, they will have approximately $178million of cap room in 2022 to work with. They could easily push some 2021 money into the following season.

They can operate in the same way in the free agent market. They could get creative, crafting contracts with a minimal hit in 2021 and a bigger hit in 2022.

Will they be handcuffing themselves in the future with bloated contracts for ageing players? That is the beauty of it – they won’t. Any downside of using future cap is more than counterbalanced by the return of trading their biggest roster asset.

With a huge haul of draft picks and no top three quarterback salary to pay, the Seahawks will reap a double benefit of having nearly half of their roster stocked with cheap young talent that can contribute right away, veteran players who can provide leadership and still play at a very high level and bunches of cap room to make major moves in the market.

Will it take some clever structuring by the Seahawks? Yes.

Will it cause some sleepless nights, not having a franchise QB locked on your roster? Yes.

Is it a workable solution to the current standoff? Yes.

Is it preferable to a miserable 2021 with an unhappy Russell Wilson and Pete Carroll trying to coexist? Yes.


Narrative: You trade Wilson and you can write off the next three seasons while you rebuild

Why the narrative has merit:

A true franchise quarterback is the most sought-after commodity in the NFL.

He can cover up, minimize or simply overcome a multitude of roster holes in other areas. Seahawks fans have had a front row seat to witness that with Russell Wilson, particularly in 2020.

Any team that trades their franchise quarterback is immediately tasked with filling the biggest hole on their roster.

Nuance: The hefty return the Seahawks would receive in trade opens up all kinds of options to remain competitive

The magnitude of the return means the Seahawks can get both a top level player or two that provide instant productivity and multiple draft picks to inject youth and talent into the roster. Those holes that had to be covered by a franchise QB are no longer holes.

As noted above, the Seahawks also all of the sudden have enough cap room to immediately buy the top free agent at any position they choose in 2022 if they like.

They would be in a position to assess the QB prospects in the 2021 draft and make a move.

Seattle would also be a very intriguing destination for a free agent QB.

Want to come to Seattle and play for a Super Bowl winning coach? Get fawned over by the local media and never asked a tough question in your life?

Throw to two of the best wide receivers in the game?

Get protected by Duane Brown and some young bucks on the interior?

Get supported by a stout defense headlined by a Mack or a Lattimore along with Bobby Wagner and Carlos Dunlap?

A trade like this also puts them back in their wheelhouse. They absolutely excel when they have resources, build depth and allow opportunities to come to them. They can focus on maximizing value and talent over need in the draft and the free agent market.

When they have extra cap room and draft picks to trade, they are able to add high-value players at a very reasonable cost, whether in the post-draft market or in-season.

This offseason will likely see many opportunities to add talented veteran players at very affordable prices if they play their cards right.

This has always been a better place for them. When they reach to fill needs, they frequently only fill their hands with trouble.


Narrative: Even with a raft of picks Pete Carroll and John Schneider can’t draft well enough to rebuild successfully

Why the narrative has merit:

LJ Collier. Darrell Taylor. Malik McDowell. Cody Barton. Rashaad Penny.

You don’t need to look too far to find draft misses on this team.

Nuance: There has been a measure of effectiveness in building the team in recent seasons. This will also energize the Front Office’s focus like no other move.

Damien Lewis, Jordyn Brooks, DK Metcalf in the draft.

Poona Ford in the UDFA market. DJ Reed in the waiver market.

Quandre Diggs and Carlos Dunlap as fantastic in-season value trades.

There has been success. John Schneider has not completely lost his touch.

Consider this though: There is an added dimension when trading Wilson. It would be a return to a state where John Schneider and Pete Carroll operate at their best.

They have proven to be much stronger at building a winner than maintaining a winner.

Being free of a quarterback with a massive salary, an even bigger public persona, and very specific public demands about the offense and personnel allows them to reshape the team in their vision.

In trading Wilson, they will have taken on a massive challenge. It will no doubt focus their minds and their efforts like no other task they have recently faced. There is something about taking on a big risk that brings clarity and focus to the mind unlike anything else.

At the same time, it will re-invigorate both of them. How often do you get to build a team up to a Super Bowl champion and stay long enough to move on from nearly all the players from that team? And then start over with a bonanza of draft picks, a top-flight player or two and massive cap room added to a roster that already has talent?

The opportunity is tantalizing.

They both received contract extensions recently. The plain fact is they aren’t going anywhere. There would be tremendous incentive to make this work.


Narrative: Fans will abandon the Seahawks in droves for trading Russell Wilson.

Why the narrative has merit:

They’d be trading one of the most successful and well-liked players in franchise history.

Nuance: While the fans would rightly be upset over the team trading Wilson there is no doubt the next two seasons will absolutely capture our interest.

Fan interest in the 2021 draft will skyrocket. The Seahawks will go from having only three or four draft picks to having many more and be big time players on draft day.

Training camp will be abuzz with all the new players and everyone will want to get a look at the rookies and see how they fit on the team. Excitement about the defense will return and be justified this time.

The in-season weekly discussion will have a complete breath of fresh air to it. Rather than discussing stale topics like “Let Russ Cook” or how poorly the defense has performed, the focus will shift to a tough defense and marvelling at the next stage in DK Metcalf’s development into one of the all time greats.

If you missed the interview with Minnesota cornerback Benjamin St-Juste yesterday, check it out here:

You can now support Seahawks Draft Blog via Patreon by clicking the tab below.

Become a Patron!


  1. schuemansky

    Great post, cha!
    I am with your thought processes 110%.
    And somehow I think PCJS are as well.

    • cha

      Thank you!

      It’s unfortunate. The media is doing about 10% of their job on this big of a story, and so many fans are just swallowing it whole and regurgitating the talking points without giving it much thought.

      Reporting “why it won’t happen” and not even giving any time (let alone equal time) to “how it could benefit the Seahawks” is malpractice.

      • Rob Staton

        Plus the Bears are absolutely desperate. Or more specifically, Ryan Pace is absolutely desperate. The most desperate man in the NFL frankly.

        He will do whatever it takes to make this possible. So the media can sit there and say, ‘nah’ as much as they want. Wilson’s agent with his on-record reveal to Schefter, Michael Silver admitting this is a serious issue and the Bears report saying Wilson is the #1 priority right now is enough smoke to investigate rather than dismiss.

        • Hawk Mock

          Good stuff Cha!

          Give me Mack, Johnson, 3 1sts and this year’s 2nd, trade Adams for a 1st and 3rd or 4th and let’s go. Lots of opportunities at that point to restock and be competitive right away.

  2. Happy Hawk

    Good article and well written…Thanks! Seems inevitable that a trade happens because everyone wants it: Russell Wilson and his agent, the Media, the draft guru’s, the teams wanting Wilson, Mike Florio, Colin Cowherd etc etc. Tanking is always popular until it fails – which it always seems to do.

  3. RWIII

    I agree with everything you wrote. No disagreement. If PC/JS wanted to trade him the 37-39 mil cap hit would not stop them.. But with that said I don’t see a trade this year. The message Russell Wilson is sending is 1) I want better protection. 2) I want more say in the offense. 3) I want players that can help us win NOW. 4) I want Pete Carroll to keep his nose out of the offense. 5) Russell Wilson is sending a message TO GET THIS DONE. AND GET IT DONE NOW. Russell Wilson is tired(and do am I) of getting into the playoffs and maybe winning one playoff game. Pete Carroll is not interested in starting over. Carroll is the oldest coach in the N.F.L. He is not about starting over.

    What does da Bears have to offer? A 30 year pass rusher and the #20 pick in the N.F.L. draft? That would not even get da Bears to first base. Da Bears would need to trade their entire draft this year. And three or four first round picks over the next 3 or 4 seasons. That might get John Schneider’s attention.

    • Rob Staton

      Then the Bears will have to offer more.

      Nothing will be off the table for them.

    • schuemansky

      RW is sending its”messages” to make his stance look more sympathetic.
      IMO he has no trust left in PC and he wants out to search for personal glory.
      Rob said several times that he wants to win most and foremost. I am not that sure anymore, whether winning with his team is on top of his list of things to achieve in his career from here on.

    • cha

      I think part of the $39m cap hit narrative is gaining strength by a false reasoning that teams are not going to give a truckload of talent in return for RW.

      Some of the deals speculated out there have been crazy low.

      Why would you trade your best player and swallow $39m for a couple firsts and a player?

      So it’s easy to back up the narrative if you are convinced the Seahawks aren’t going to get a huge package back.

  4. Mr. Bitter

    Peter King should read this article.


    Gregg Bell, John Clayton, etc. etc………….

    • Mr. Bitter

      Peter King found time between trips to local craft breweries to let all us unenlightened know that trading Russell Wilson is a “pipedream”.

  6. dcd2

    Nice work Cha. I really love the long-form articles exactly because of what you allude to. You can’t sum up these situations in a few sound bites, but damned if the media doesn’t go that route time and again.

    I have really enjoyed the approach that SDB has taken. Look at it from RW’s POV, then look at it from PCJS POV and rule nothing out. Discuss what is an option for both parties and dispel fiction from fact. Sadly in this day and age, most places put out their knee-jerk reaction and then feel the need to defend it to the death.

    Every day reminds me more of the movie Idiocracy.

    Media: Brawndo’s got what plants crave… it’s got electrolytes
    SDB: Look, the plants aren’t growing so I’m pretty sure the Brawndo isn’t working.
    SDB: Let’s look at what will work, and not worry about ‘what plants crave’
    Media: Brawndo’s got what plants crave… it’s got electrolytes
    SDB: What are electrolytes? Do you even know?
    Media: It’s what they use to make Brawndo.
    SDB: Why do they use them to make Brawndo?
    Media: Because Brawndo’s got electrolytes

    • Tomas

      You nailed it with your IDIOCRACY analogy – well done.

  7. RWIII

    It looks like Tom Brady is about to reduce his cap number. So that it will be more likely that Tampa Bay will be easier to keep KEY free agents. Tom Brady is willing to take less to WIN NOW. To me it’s easy to root for Tom Brady.

  8. Rando

    This may be the first I’ve opened my mind to the idea that trading Russ isn’t an enormously bad and depressing idea. Since 2018 I’ve been of the mind that Pete has to go and that only solidified at the end of the 2020 season. I’d still prefer we keep Russ and jettison Pete but I can for the first time see how it could work out.

    Appreciate the articles Rob, certainly some of the best Seahawks analysis out there.

  9. Tomas

    The giant iceberg is on the horizon and Captain Pete is steaming straight towards it.

  10. dand393

    Carlos Dunlap gettting released today according to Adam Shefter

    • MyChestIsBeastMode


    • Scot04

      Typical Seahawks
      But we have atleast we have that weapon in Adams that fixes everything.

    • Simo

      I’m guessing this means they weren’t able to reach an extension with Carlos, but he was never going to play this year in Seattle with a $14.1m cap hit.

      I hope they still try to bring him back on a short term deal, he was very good for the team last year.

  11. CallMeAL

    Great read Cha, you certainly covered all view points well!

    I read an interesting article this morning concerning the Seahawks annual ticket holder letter and found the following interesting.

    “Now, something new has the internet buzzing. The Seahawks mailed out a letter to season ticket holders, where it was essentially welcoming fans back and looking towards the future of the franchise.

    Interesting enough, Wilson wasn’t mentioned in the letter.

    Now, this could indicate something or it indicate absolutely nothing, it’s all a matter of how you look at it. But it has certainly shocked those Seahawks fans that have read a letter about the future of their team — mentioning the likes of DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett — without their franchise quarterback being mentioned.”

    Now, this begs the question, why would the Seahawks do this knowing they have an unhappy QB who quite possibly will feel slighted by this?

    I am in the trade Wilson camp and in my opinion this will add fuel to the fire.

    On another note, with all of this mutual love between Wilson and the Bears, the one thing I don’t understand is why would Wilson want to go to a team with an average defense, lacking good offensive weapons and an OL that may not be as good as the one he is leaving? Not to mention that they will most likely have to give up their best pass rusher, multiple high draft picks, and are over the cap. Just how are they suppose to build a team around RW?

    I don’t know, maybe I’m missing something here.

  12. CWagner

    That might be the best breakdown of the situation that I’ve seen. I go back and forth for many of the reasons mentioned, but after witnessing how last offseason was handled, sorry to admit but I’m afraid of who the replacement QB might end up being. But Idk, PCJS have a way of surprising us with trades and whatnot.

  13. DC

    Thanks Cha.

    Guessing that the minimum return for Russ from ‘Da Bears’ is Mack plus their 2021, 2022 & 2023 1st round picks (& hopefully more of course). You mentioned all of the perks involved with getting young & having cap flexibility so I won’t rehash that at all. What I will touch on is that in no way, shape or form do I believe we will win a Super Bowl with Joe Chumpenstein at QB and by that I mean with anything other than a great one. So how do we get our next great QB? I’m glad you asked. It won’t happen in 2021 but if we play our cards right then the team and table will be set for 2022.

    The target in 2022 is Aaron Rodgers. Why would Green Consider a trade? Rodgers will be in the twilight of his career turning 39 that December. His cap hit will be $39,852,000 ($17M dead) on a team projected to be at the absolute bottom of the league in available cap space. Green Bay has the heir apparent on the roster in Jordan Love who would have sat on the bench for 2 years at that point. They only have 2 years left on his rookie deal to determine what they’ve got & whether he’s worth a 5th season. Rogers and the organization are starting to show the demoralizing cracks associated with coming up short in the playoffs yet again. A 2022 1st round pick from Seattle would help kick off the ‘Era of Love’. Would that return on original investment be enough to land Rodgers? It might be.

    Why would Seattle consider a trade? Can you imagine that dill-hole throwing to Metcalf, Lockett, Dissly & whoever else we’ve added?!? I hate the guy but come on. There’s ample cap space and draft capital to make it happen. If we do the 2021 draft right then I see a fortified interior O line and a feature back in place. Buy a LT in 2022 if need be. Assuming we extend Dunlop to pair with Mack and our other youngsters then our pass rush is set up to protect the back half of the defense. Spend the 2022 draft picks primarily on young defenders and another weapon and shoot… I see a legit title contender ready to rock after a single ‘fallow’ season in 2021. I believe it can be done.

  14. TomLPDX

    Well done, Cha. Now onto the new disaster of the day…Carlos, although most of us new it would happen if if we hoped it wouldn’t. Seattle being Seattle.

  15. James Z

    “Consider this though: There is an added dimension when trading Wilson. It would be a return to a state where John Schneider and Pete Carroll operate at their best.”

    This is a most interesting insight! If you’re right, and I think you are, it could be a fun ride in the next few years. That said, it’s questionable whether PC/JS realize this about their own process.

    • SpennyDunks

      I remember being disappointed as a more casual fan when they came in and started dumping some of my favourites (Josh Wilson, Darryl Tapp) but they built this team up in such a legendary way. I’d rather see JS/PC at least try to show that it wasn’t a fluke rather than continuing to tread water.. It would be more exciting as fans to watch them rebuild the roster, even if the actual on field entertainment will be worse for a while.

  16. Albert Bryan Butler

    This article was as superb as my latest smoked honey wheat ale homebrew.

  17. Roland T Jose

    Personally I think that this organization of PC/JS should be fired at this point or restructured. I think that the magic is gone! PC is sadly to say, past his prime!. I would like to keep JS. I think their personnel decitions are not working out or just plain bad! To where the team is stuck in a bad position every year since deciding to reset. Everything points to unsertanty and paying a safety too much money!, hanging on to players that are too expensive!, PC is delusional into thinking that since they were 12-4 that this team is close!, giving up your franchise qb is crazy! I just think based on what we have seen since the reset that the organization needs to be let go! I think RW is right to speak out against the organization because they aren’t doing the right things over the last 3 or 4 years!, i think the organization needs to be reset!

    • Roland T Jose

      Furthermore it is sad because i am thankful to the oranization for taking us to 2 title games and getting Seattle its 1st SB win!, but i think their time has past! I wish Allen was still alive to help with this situation! Giving up your franchise QB is crazy!, i hope sombody at the top is recognizes what is happening; though it is hard when ur team won the division and went to the playoffs with a 12-4 record. Jody needs to grow a pair and fire these guy’s! Before
      Its too late and they make another bunch of bad decisions that destroys this franchise to the point where we have no qb, no cap space, no draft stock for several years! And ultimately no chance to get back and win a SB!

  18. SebA

    SeahawksDraftBlog is a rare source of nuance on the internet – long may it continue.

  19. Pearedu

    I trust JS in drafting a QB , he reportedly liked Mahomes and Josh Allen , but i dont trust PC and the Seahawks 1st Round credentials as of they have not signed not even 1 player drafted in the 1st round past 2010!!!! . Those are some serious red flags. Also they dont have their 2022 First rounder if they tank this year (another red flag) .

    • Corky

      He was also the one who liked Russell Wilson when they drafted him.

      So, yeah, I think he has a good eye for QB’s. Needs some help with offensive and defensive linemen however.

  20. LifeDuringWartime

    Sooo, now that Day Prescott got paid, I guess the list is three teams. Like Rob said, Cowboys never really seemed to fit in with Raiders, Bears and Saints, anyway. Consider, if Russ were to play for any of those three teams he would be guaranteed of matching up “Mano y Mano” against Aaron Rodgers, Patrick Mahomes or Tom Brady TWICE each year. Those are the three best QBs in football…four counting RW. Maybe this has been mentioned already; I don’t recall reading this anywhere, but it just occurred to me this afternoon. It would make perfect sense. RW is so about his legacy it would make sense that he would want a situation where he could play against one or another of the ‘legacy’ QBs twice per annum. Life during wartime, baby. “This ain’t no party, this ain’t no disco. This ain’t no fooling around…. Transmit the message, to the receiver, Hope for an answer some day…”

  21. Leo Pallanck

    The issue with the Seahawks is pretty clear to me. They did a great job when they started out with basically nothing and took a long term approach to team building. But after their second super bowl, they have largely taken a short term approach each year to remain competitive in the short term. This explains many of the moves that have been criticized (e.g., the trade for Sheldon Richardson, the trade for Clowney, the trade and release of Dunlap, etc.). All of these moves were win-now moves-they made sense at the time and only seem bad in retrospect because they didn’t get us the (short-term) results we wanted. I also think many of the criticisms with the failed draft picks seem more like a glass-half empty view: yes, there have been some bad picks, but the Seahawks always make unexpected picks, and many have paid off. I only have two criticisms of the team, and one is a potential criticism. First, the Jamal Adams trade was a huge mistake from the start. They gave up way too much for a player they don’t need and who now has all the contract leverage (I also agree with Rob’s criticisms of him as a player). This was an obviously bad trade from the start. The potential criticism involves Wilson. Wilson is probably the best single player the Seahawks will ever have, and they will never have a quarterback as good as him again. There is also nothing they could get back in a trade that would be as impactful as Wilson. The situation with Wilson should not be hard to solve: Just include him in every major decision the team makes. As long as he understands that the team is going to make decisions collectively and that he needs to be prepared to address challenges to his viewpoints, including him in the decision making process seems perfectly reasonable-and perhaps even beneficial. If the Seahawks cannot resolve this issue, it will be their single greatest mistake.

© 2024 Seahawks Draft Blog

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑