As we wait to see how Russell Wilson’s contract negotiations play out, some are asking whether Wilson is even necessary to the Seahawks and others are wondering whether he might put the Hawks in a bind by holding out.
Some argue the Seahawks could have reached the Super Bowl the past two years with almost any quarterback. Others vehemently disagree.
Neither group is completely right. And the argument is largely irrelevant anyway.
Mark Rodgers, Wilson’s agent, told 710 ESPN, “They’ve won an awful lot of games here with him as the starting quarterback. I’m not of the mindset, as some people are, that you could put any quarterback in the league as the starting quarterback for the Seahawks and they would have played in the Super Bowl the last two seasons.”
We’ve pointed out the difference Wilson has made on an offense that has been made up of substandard parts around him and Marshawn Lynch. And, as good as Lynch is, Wilson clearly has been the X-factor.
It’s easy to say other quarterbacks could have succeeded similarly — until you pause to consider how reliant the Seahawks have been on Wilson’s ability to create plays behind often rickety pass protection. Pete Carroll has said many times that the Hawks want to be the league’s best “scramble offense” and they rely on Wilson’s athleticism and savvy to make that happen.
Obviously the Hawks could have won the Super Bowl with some of the league’s top franchise QBs, but that’s clearly not a relevant point because the Seahawks never had a chance to get most of those guys.
In fact, their opportunities to find a quarterback have been pretty limited.
Remember, in 2012 the Seahawks were desperate to acquire an upgrade over Tarvaris Jackson and Charlie Whitehurst. The rest of the team was in place, but they weren’t going anywhere unless they found a dependable quarterback.
They were so desperate that they begged Peyton Manning to sign, then settled on Matt Flynn, who lost out to Wilson. But, if the Hawks had not drafted Wilson and given him a shot, it would have been Flynn and Jackson (who probably would not have been traded to Buffalo).
Even with Flynn’s arm troubles, that pair probably would have been good enough to make the playoffs that year, as Wilson did. But what would have happened in 2013? It’s hard to imagine the Hawks winning the Super Bowl with a Flynn/Jackson combo.
In the draft, they could have had Geno Smith (if they hadn’t traded their first-round pick for Percy Harvin) or Mike Glennon or Matt Barkley — but none of those rookies could have helped the Hawks reach the Super Bowl, even with the No. 1 defense and one of the league’s top running games.
Seattle also could have traded for Colt McCoy, who went from Cleveland to San Francisco that year, or Carson Palmer, who went from Oakland to Arizona. Would McCoy have been good enough or Palmer healthy enough to help the Hawks get to the Super Bowl?
Bottom line: The Hawks didn’t have many great options for QBs in 2012 and 2013 and John Schneider was savvy enough to realize Wilson could be their guy.
Of course, on the flip side, how many teams would have used Wilson as well as the Seahawks have? Three other teams apparently wanted to draft him in the third round in 2012, too. But he surely would have ridden the bench in Philly, Indy or Washington — at least initially. Most teams just would not have given a 5-foot-11 QB a chance to start.
So, the Seahawks and Wilson clearly have benefitted from a symbiotic relationship, using each other to overcome their weaknesses. (And just think: Jimmy Graham and Tyler Lockett should make Wilson even more DangeRuss, turning the Hawks into a more complete and explosive offense.)
The Seahawks obviously are very confident Wilson will remain their starter for at least the next two years. If they had thought he might hold out for a blockbuster contract, they probably would have made signing a backup QB a priority this offseason (Jackson is still unsigned) or they would have drafted a quarterback (they could have had UCLA’s Brett Hundley in the fourth round).
But there is no concern Wilson will not show up to lead the team to another Super Bowl title. He is back at OTAs after missing the first few days to attend a couple of funerals of teammates’ loved ones. Unlike Michael Bennett, he’s not planning to grandstand for a contract. Rodgers promised that.
“I’m not looking for leverage,” Rodgers told 710 ESPN. “I’m not looking to figure out how I can beat these guys down, nor do I think they’re thinking that. … Leverage oftentimes can turn into a threat, and I can tell you that none of our conversations have been threatening at all.”
Rodgers said there is no deadline for a deal to be reached and Wilson would be content playing out the final year of his rookie deal if it meant making sure he gets a better contract in the long run. Wilson confirmed that on Tuesday.
“I want to be here for a long time,” he said. “But if (an extension does not happen this year) I’ve just got to get ready to play. I love the game, and I love being out here with these guys and just playing. And so ultimately I just take it one day at a time and just see where it takes me.”
So, to answer the questions some are asking: Yes, Wilson has been invaluable to the Seahawks, particularly considering their other options; and no, he is not going to hold out, because the Seahawks have been just as important to him.