I’ll start this piece by apologising to those who are tired of the Russell Wilson talk. I will say though — this is the defining story of Seattle’s off-season. It’s going to be the big old elephant in the room until it’s resolved one way or another. I’m ready for a conclusion as much as anyone but with five days until Wilson’s self-imposed contract deadline expires, how can we pretend like it’s not the big talking point? Everything — the draft plan, the direction of the franchise, the players we look at — is determined by what they do with Wilson.
I don’t think the Seahawks will trade Russell Wilson in 2019. Next year? It’s a lot more likely if a long-term extension isn’t agreed.
It’s quite simple why a deal is highly unlikely this year.
Firstly, the Seahawks will want to exhaust the possibility of keeping Wilson. Trading him now is just giving up. Seattle’s main motivation, surely, is to keep their franchise quarterback. They have to let the process play out before conceding defeat.
Secondly, they don’t have an alternative option on the roster. If they feel a divorce from Wilson is highly possible in the future — they should try and draft a quarterback they like first. It might not be possible. If it is — you make the call. You have to. That way you’re not totally unprepared for the future. And if you get a deal done with Wilson the worst case scenario is you’re simply left with a cheap, young backup who might have some trade value down the line.
So no. I’m not buying into the prospect of an earth-shaking trade. That doesn’t mean it isn’t being considered though. There’s a reason why it’s being talked about in NFL circles (and it clearly is). There’s a reason why the Seahawks have been looking at quarterbacks in recent years. There’s a reason why we’ve spent a lot longer discussing players like Kyler Murray and Will Grier during this draft cycle.
We’ve been anticipating this huge stand-off for many weeks now. Wilson’s camp have been extremely aggressive. The Seahawks have dabbled in a bit of ‘negotiation via media’ too. Both sides need to compromise and neither appears willing to currently. Wilson seems fully prepared to use the franchise tag if the Seahawks won’t pay him what he wants. If that happens the team has two choices. Pay him the money he’s asking for — even if it cripples the salary cap — or move him.
With Wilson setting his own deadline for April 15th, it accelerates the process somewhat. If he tells the Seahawks, bluntly, in five days time — ‘I am now playing on the tag until you pay me what I want’ — you might as well see what’s out there via trade. If you’re going to do that in a year anyway, why delay things? It doesn’t mean you deal him necessarily. It just means you see what’s on offer.
That’s my read on the situation. That’s why I think it’s being talked about. I don’t think Wilson will be dealt in 2019. I think potential suitors, such as the Giants or Dolphins, will want to get through this draft and build. In a year they will be able to make a call on whether they want to go all-in on a superstar quarterback.
New York will be a much better team in 12 months if they use #6, #17 and #37 this year to build their team up with young talent before inserting Wilson. The Dolphins need everything — so there’s little point paying Wilson $100m guaranteed now and then not having any draft picks to support him.
Next year both teams would be prime candidates for a trade. There would be others.
If someone did make a fantastic offer next week — say three first round picks and more — they’d have to consider it. Or they’d have to at least turn to Wilson and put to him whether he wants this to happen. Are you prepared to move on or will you compromise on a deal to stay?
I want to run through some thoughts on what I think the Seahawks will consider doing for the two scenarios — keeping Wilson and trading Wilson.
If Russell Wilson stays in 2019 (without a new contract)
1. They should aim to draft a quarterback as a priority. I know the team has needs at various positions. If they’re in that situation of needing to find ‘the next guy’ — you have to start drafting quarterbacks. You keep looking until you find the one. It all depends on whether the players you like (and they’ll find at least one they like within this class) are available.
2. I still think there’s a very good chance Will Grier will be a target. I won’t repeat everything again but he was by far the best downfield thrower in college football for the last two seasons. He’s a perfect fit for what they want to do (run the ball and take shots). He has mechanical flaws that impact his velocity and he takes too many sacks. Those are fixable issues. What he does well — the downfield accuracy, the ability to hang in the pocket and make big plays, to elevate a team like he did at WVU — is impressive.
3. You back yourself as a coaching/scouting staff to fill your other holes. They will trade down and accumulate more picks. If they can trade down and select a quarterback — it doesn’t mean they can’t find impact players in rounds 3-7. Let’s remember — Frank Clark (late R2), Tyler Lockett (R3), Chris Carson (R7), Tre Flowers (R5), Poona Ford (UDFA) and Jarran Reed (R2) weren’t high picks. And the best defense in team history was built on day three prospects by this GM and Head Coach.
If Russell Wilson is traded in 2019
1. Speak immediately to Indianapolis about Jacoby Brissett. Can you get him for a 2020 second rounder or less? That way you’re adding a player with starting experience, some talent and he’s familiar with Brian Schottenheimer. You would need a hedge for the draft and some competition at QB.
2. Assuming they get at least two extra picks in round one, they need to make up for the loss of a franchise quarterback by building up their defense. If they pick in the top-10 I think Rashan Gary would be their target. He perfectly fits what they look for in an athlete, versatility, scheme discipline and a former #1 recruit. Book-ending Gary with Frank Clark with Jarran Reed in the middle would be a tantalising prospect.
3. If they picked again in the teens they should double-down on defense. Do you add Byron Murphy to cover the nickel spot? Do you see what remains of the defensive tackle class? If you’re trading Wilson it’s to try and create another great defense. They would need to add young, legit first round talent.
4. They could use their native #21 overall to make sure they get the quarterback they like (eg Will Grier) or they could trade down as they currently plan to try and do. They’d need to come away with a QB at some point but the flexibility would be there to build up their defense. Any prospective trade would need to provide the Seahawks with a fuller draft board on days two and three. That would be an ideal opportunity to look at the tight ends and receivers.
Again — this is all just a lot of thinking out loud based around a major talking point involving the Seahawks. If you’re fed up with the Wilson stuff — I’m sorry. But everything around the team is connected to the decision they make with Wilson. If they are destined to part ways — it impacts the 2019 draft significantly.
New VMAC visit confirmed
Idaho linebacker Kaden Elliss will take an official-30 visit to Seattle next week. According to reports he ran a 6.49 three-cone. We now know twelve of Seattle’s confirmed visits:
Parris Campbell (WR)
L.J. Collier (DE)
Dre Greenlaw (LB)
Juan Thornhill (DB)
Darnell Savage (DB)
Darwin Thompson (RB)
Rashan Gary (DE)
Corrion Ballard (DB)
Jace Sternberger (TE)
Derrek Thomas (CB)
N’Keal Harry (WR)
Kaden Elliss (LB)
If you missed yesterday’s new podcast discussing the latest topics involving the Seahawks and the draft, don’t forget to check it out…
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