It’s no surprise that Russell Wilson reportedly is starting to “explore his options” for playing elsewhere. He opened that door last year and did not firmly close it when asked over the past month.
The latest report from NFL Media’s Ian Rapoport said, “Those close to Wilson say he wants to investigate other destinations to see if those would put him in a better position to win another championship and create the legacy he sees for himself.”
This apparently did not come from Wilson’s agent, Mark Rodgers (Rapoport said he did not return calls), but Rodgers already had revealed four teams Wilson preferred last year: Chicago, New Orleans, Las Vegas, Dallas. Wilson reportedly still is interested in the Saints and would be open to the New York Giants and Denver.
It sounds like he is doing his diligence on QB-needy teams – which also may include Philadelphia, Carolina and Washington. If he is doing that, it means he thinks the Seahawks are willing to trade him (and we think they are).
Of course, any trade involves three elements: (1) a team wanting Wilson, (2) him wanting to go there and (3) Seattle getting the value it expects for its franchise QB.
What is Wilson’s value? Last March, Chicago reportedly offered three firsts, a third and a couple of players. Wilson’s value might have taken a slight hit off an injury-interrupted 2021 season that also featured some terrible games from the QB, but he is still considered a top-tier quarterback and Seattle should get some very strong offers for him.
Let’s take a look at potential suitors’ situations, the reason Wilson might go to each and what each might be able to give Seattle in a trade. And, for kicks, we’ll include Vegas odds (as of December).
Team’s situation: The Saints were on Wilson’s preferred destination list in 2021. They reportedly were interested last year and definitely need a QB this year after none of their 2021 guys could stay healthy. Sean Payton surely would love to have Wilson, who idolized Drew Brees. The Saints would have to juggle their salary cap, but nobody does that better.
Draw for Wilson: He would get to succeed his mentor in an offense-friendly system with a star coach and an excellent defense backing him. The Saints are a QB away from contending.
Trade ammunition: The Saints don’t have the draft capital of other teams (they pick 18th overall), but they have star corner Marshon Lattimore. Seattle could try to get him and two first-rounders or a first and some other picks (Lattimore is worth at least one first-rounder himself). Dealing Lattimore would offset $14 million of Wilson’s $24 million cap hit for the Saints.
Vegas odds: 7/1.
New York Giants
Team’s situation: The Giants have been the hot team in the rumor mill over the last few weeks. They are in transition – again – as they look for a GM and coach. Daniel Jones has not lived up to his draft status (sixth overall in 2019), and the new GM and coach may want to upgrade. The new GM will have to clean up the Giants’ salary cap though, even before any possible pursuit of Wilson.
Draw for Wilson: The Big Apple. Wilson values being a celebrity and there is no better place to be that or to rub elbows with other celebrities – as Wilson loves to do. Would the Giants’ instability (one winning season in the past nine years) be a turnoff for Wilson? It doesn’t sound like it. He reportedly would waive the no-trade clause to go to New York.
Trade ammunition: Seattle surely would love to do a deal with the Giants, who have the fifth and seventh picks in the first round.
Vegas odds: 5/1.
Team’s situation: The Eagles were just blown out by Tampa Bay in the wild-card round, and they might want to look for an upgrade over QB Jalen Hurts.
Draw for Wilson: The Eagles have made the playoffs in four of the past five seasons, so they know how to put together a winning team even amid QB issues. Wilson has played them enough to know how stout their defense often is – and they have a strong running game these days, too. Would Wilson’s ego make him think he could get them over the top? Last month, ESPN’s Adam Schefter said he thought Wilson would approve a trade to Philly.
Trade ammunition: The Eagles have three first-round picks, including No. 15 and 16. Seattle would love to take all of them. Or take two firsts PLUS Hurts or Gardner Minshew AND another pick or two.
Vegas odds: 8/1.
Team’s situation: The Panthers “definitely need to stabilize the (QB) position,” said GM Scott Fitterer, who was hired away from Seattle in 2021. “Whether we go out and trade for a quarterback, whether we draft one, we’re gonna do something at the position at some point here.” You can bet he will talk to his former boss, John Schneider, if Wilson seems amenable to returning to North Carolina, where he played at N.C. State. One issue, though, is the $18.9 million the Panthers guaranteed Sam Darnold when they picked up his 2022 option.
Draw for Wilson: Returning “home” and joining a team that has some excellent offensive weapons in Christian McCaffrey and D.J. Moore. The Panthers have offensive line problems though and have some more work to do to become playoff ready. Wilson might not be interested in waiting for that.
Trade ammunition: The Panthers are drafting sixth overall, so that would be the starter pick for Seattle, along with a 2023 first-rounder and more.
Vegas odds: 9/1.
Team’s situation: The Broncos have been flailing around at QB ever since Peyton Manning retired. In the past six years, they have started Trevor Simien, Case Keenum, Joe Flacco, Drew Lock and Teddy Bridgewater. They are hiring a new coach, and they are in the market for a QB yet again. If Dan Quinn is the coaching hire, the former Seattle DC probably would love to reunite with Wilson. They have the cap space to fit Wilson as well.
Draw for Wilson: The Broncos reportedly are on Wilson’s expanded list. Wilson probably would like an offensive coach, but Quinn has a history of coaching a team (the Falcons) to the Super Bowl. Wilson also might like the idea of being the guy to finally replace Manning, and he might enjoy leading the franchise he beat in Super Bowl XLVIII.
Trade ammunition: The Broncos are drafting ninth overall and have two second-rounders and two third-rounders this year as well.
Vegas odds: 3/1.
Team’s situation: Taylor Heinicke played admirably in 2021, beating Seattle as he went 7-8 in his starts after stepping in for injured Ryan Fitzpatrick. But Washington will look to upgrade the position. “We’re going to explore all avenues,” coach Ron Rivera said. GM Martin Mayhew added, “We’ve been talking about this for several months now and how we move forward. Every avenue, uncover every stone. We (will) look at every situation out there and try to find the right guy.”
Draw for Wilson: Wilson grew up in Richmond, Va., so a return to the area might be appealing. The drawback is Daniel Snyder is the owner, but Rivera is a good man and Wilson knows him well from the many times they faced off in Seahawks-Panthers games. WFT also has some good young offensive players (Terry McLaurin and Antonio Gibson), a very good offensive line and a stellar defensive line (when healthy) — as Wilson knows from playing them twice in the last two seasons. If Wilson could tolerate Snyder, this would be a strong option from a coaching and roster perspective.
Trade ammunition: Washington has the 11th pick in this draft. WFT would have to toss in its 2023 first-rounder and some other picks/players as well.
Vegas odds: 7/1.