It’s draft month: Will Wilson stay or go?

Don’t let Tyler Lockett’s cool extension fool you: It doesn’t change anything regarding Russell Wilson’s situation. And all eyes will be on the quarterback now that draft month is here.

The Wilson trade chatter certainly has died down since Pete Carroll and John Schneider turned down the Bears’ offer just before the league year began. The Seahawks have since reloaded the offense with Gabe Jackson, Chris Carson and Gerald Everett and created a strong pass rush with Carlos Dunlap, Kerry Hyder and Benson Mayowa. And, of course, Lockett just re-upped for four more years.

Many of those moves have been cheered by Wilson, and Carroll apparently is “hearing” Wilson’s concerns and has communicated with him. Mike Silver of NFL Media said on March 22: “There does seem to be now a tenuous peace and a sense that, ‘Hey, we’ll move forward and at least try this for one more season.’”

That seems the likely direction, but some national reporters (and the Bears) are not ready to say Wilson is staying in Seattle – not until the draft has come and gone. And the fact that the Seahawks have decided to use void years rather than restructure Wilson and Bobby Wagner indicates the team is not sure Wilson is here for the long term.

Plenty of insiders (media and league people) think the QB is not fully sold on the direction of the team and is still waiting to see whether Schneider and Carroll give him what he wants – whether it’s signing Antonio Brown or getting a new center or “letting Russ cook” again or all of the above. As ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler reported March 24, Wilson wants to stay, but only “on the right terms.”

Speaking of right terms, that might be all that is needed to kickstart a trade. By all accounts, the Bears have not given up on the idea.  

“Around league circles right now,” ESPN’s Dianna Russini said March 25, “the talk is that the door is still open for a trade to happen. It just needs to be the right situation.” Read that to mean Carroll and Schneider need a quarterback to replace Wilson while getting the right draft stock as well.

Any deal would be expected to happen closer to the draft, which begins April 29 – but we’d say the more accurate deadline could be April 19, when offseason work is scheduled to begin. Why have Wilson working with guys if he is not going to be playing with them?

And here was a buried nugget of information via Russini’s source: Wilson is open to playing for teams beyond the four his agent mentioned to Adam Schefter. “There are other teams out there” that have not been made public, she said, and another team could get involved around draft time.

She didn’t list any teams, but Miami and the Jets were mentioned in The Athletic’s expose, which said Wilson’s camp had broached the idea of a trade with the Seahawks.

Carolina also needs a QB; the Panthers have been thought to be all in on trying to get Deshaun Watson, but that was before his sudden and mounting legal problems (which nix our idea of Seattle getting him). Carolina is now run by former Seattle personnel man Scott Fitterer, who could go for Wilson instead. Would Wilson go for Carolina though? It is close to home, so some think he might.

Of course, the Hawks would need a QB in return. That was the big hole in the Bears’ offer.

Carroll reportedly likes the Jets’ Sam Darnold, who now appears to be available for fairly cheap. The Jets are expected to draft BYU QB Zach Wilson with the No. 2 pick. But they still could be part of a three-way deal with Chicago or Miami or Carolina that would get Darnold to Seattle.

We know Chicago likely would improve its offer, which initially was three firsts, a third and two veteran players. Maybe get Darnold from the Jets for a 3, then send him, three 1s and two 2s (or whatever) for Wilson. People think the Seahawks would want a higher first-rounder this year, but would getting the QB be enough to finish this off for Carroll and Schneider?

Or, if Wilson were willing, would Miami give up the sixth overall pick in a package that includes Darnold or Tua Tagovailoa? Would Carolina do the same with the eighth pick?

Some think Schneider loves Trey Lance, the North Dakota State star QB who figures to be drafted in the top 10. Schneider was at Lance’s Pro Day, which is where the Seattle GM turned down Chicago GM Ryan Pace’s offer for Wilson. A deal with Miami or Carolina could put Schneider within striking distance of Lance – or in position to do any number of things really.

Having Darnold and Lance would give Seattle a great shot at replacing Wilson with an effective QB – Darnold getting first dibs.

Darnold is in the final year of his rookie deal, with a $920,000 salary and a $3.85 million roster bonus due on the fifth day of training camp. That’s not a bad cap hit. They also could exercise his fifth-year option for 2022 in early May, if they did not draft Lance and thought Darnold would be the long-term answer.

As for the other cap concerns of any deal: Amid all of their free agency moves, notice that the Seahawks refrained from restructuring Wilson’s or Wagner’s salaries. That could be because they are holding out in case they do end up moving Wilson. Restructuring Wagner’s salary could create $6 million in space, which almost matches the $7 million it would cost to trade Wilson before June. (Schneider always could do a post-June trade, too, if he didn’t care about 2021 draft picks.)

Plenty of fans are dismissing the mostly ESPN-led reports that a trade is still possible, but all evidence suggests that Wilson and the Seahawks are now in a year-to-year relationship. A “tenuous peace,” as Silver said.

Wilson obviously wants to see how 2021 goes with Shane Waldron before deciding whether he wants out, but maybe the pieces will come together this month for Carroll and Schneider to get a deal they all are comfortable with and avoid dragging this out for a year.

Schneider has lulled people to sleep before and then made shocking moves (e.g., Percy Harvin, Jimmy Graham, Jadeveon Clowney, Frank Clark, Jamal Adams). If he and Carroll see a way to secure a good quarterback and get stronger across the roster while sending Wilson to a team he thinks will let him have more control, a trade is still a possibility.

As Schefter said a couple of weeks ago, “I want to see the draft come and go before I’m ready to say Russell Wilson will be a Seahawk this year.”


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