Russell Wilson, Seattle’s franchise quarterback, was named the NFL’s Man of the Year over the weekend, a long-deserved nod to his many charitable endeavors since he came to the NFL.
In Seattle though, he appears to be persona non grata with a section of frustrated fans who are still plotting (in their crazy heads) to get rid of him. Others are talking about him needing to take less money if the Hawks are ever going to get back to the Super Bowl. Basically, most of these people are saying they don’t believe in franchise quarterbacks.
To be clear: Wilson is not going anywhere. Nor should he since he is the reason the Seahawks keep making the playoffs every year (2017 excepted). And his salary has not stopped the Seahawks from getting back to the Super Bowl; coaching has.
Amid a report Sunday that some teams have called Seattle to see whether Wilson could be available in trade, the Wilson haters piled on like they were Aaron Donald and Leonard Floyd.
Some Trader Joes keep calling for a fantasy one-for-one with Houston for Deshaun Watson. Ignoring the fact that Wilson controls where he plays via a no-trade clause and would not want to go to the Houston Dysfunctionals, what would the Hawks gain by trading Wilson for Watson? A few inches in height and a few years less experience — a negligible move for a team that already has an elite QB and simply needs a smarter offensive approach. Watson would not have done any better in last season’s Seattle offense.
Others have talked about Seattle trading Wilson to Miami or New Orleans. But there is just no way Pete Carroll, at age 69, is going to want to start fresh with another young QB. A trade is NOT going to happen.
Meanwhile, there are other fans who want to get cheaper at QB – apparently thinking (wrongly) that John Schneider would go hog wild in free agency if he had a bunch of cap space. People continue to cite the stat that the top-paid QB has not won the Super Bowl in the cap era since 1994. It’s a fun coincidence – nothing more. (One data dive on this found that a quarterback’s play is five times more impactful on his team’s fortunes than is his salary.)
It is not common to win with a young QB. Since the CBA altered rookie contracts to get rid of huge guarantees in 2011, only three teams have won with rookie-deal QBs: Seattle, Philly (which finished with cheap backup Nick Foles) and KC. Five winners have been veterans who have taken up over 10% of their team’s cap — Tom Brady was at 12.2% as he and the Bucs won the Super Bowl on Sunday. The two other winners were in the middle of the pack. There simply is no defined correlation between QB cap percent and winning, and the “top-paid QB has never won a Super Bowl” trend is a misleading stat.
Matt Ryan was at 15% when he led the Falcons to the Super Bowl in 2016. If the Falcons could have held on to their 28-3 lead against Brady and the Patriots, Ryan would have muted many of the arguments about highly paid QBs.
Even at a league-high 15.5% in 2020, Wilson had the Hawks in the playoffs for the eighth time in his nine seasons. The Hawks had plenty of talent around him to win in the postseason, too, but ongoing schematic problems helped kill them in the first-round loss to the Rams, who troubled Wilson long before he was a highly paid QB.
The fact is Wilson is a franchise QB in his prime – a top-five guy at the position – and he is paid market value (he is already down to third in the salary pecking order). To trade him and hope to catch lightning in a bottle again with another rookie-deal QB would be an unnecessary gamble – certainly one that Carroll is not going to take at this stage of his career.
With some better scheming on offense by Shane Waldron, Wilson should be able to sustain his excellent play into December and January – and then maybe he can end the talk about expensive franchise QBs and finally regain the respect in Seattle that he has around the league.