Russell Wilson and Bobby Wagner joined the Seahawks on the same draft day in 2012. They won a Super Bowl together in their second season, and they were the last remnants of that championship team, so it was fitting that both were let go by the franchise on the same day – 10 years after they arrived.
Wilson and Wagner will go down as the greatest quarterback and linebacker in franchise history, both likely bound for the Hall of Fame for their record-setting play over the past decade. As everyone also knows, they were equally exemplary human beings during their tenure in Seattle. They were everything you want in players, on and off the field.
But life requires change, and all things eventually end. This always seemed the month we would say goodbye to both Wilson and Wagner.
For months, we expected that Wilson would be traded – and we still thought so even after everyone else chose to interpret the words of Pete Carroll, John Schneider and Wilson as meaning he would be back in 2022.
The fact is Wilson needed to go elsewhere, for himself and for the franchise. It absolutely was time.
As explosive a passer as he is, Wilson has become an all-or-nothing player. He is limited by his height, his inability to adapt, his stubbornness. His ego became a major deterrent over the past two years, proving that he had peaked and would never adapt the way he needed to.
People wonder why he never got an MVP vote; it’s because he never played a completely consistent season. Wilson has had seven years to try to get the Hawks back to the Super Bowl and has not done it. Granted, he often has not had the help he needed (a really strong defense and a consistent running game), but he bears partial blame himself for many of the failures.
Now Wilson and everyone gets to see whether he can do any better with an offensive coach, Nathaniel Hackett, in Denver. Wilson thinks Pete Carroll was holding him back, but Wilson’s limitations make it paramount for the team to run the ball well. Now the QB gets to see if his boom-or-bust style works any better with Hackett.
Denver is where Wilson wanted to go, obviously, or he would not have signed off on the deal. Schneider reportedly declined big offers by Washington and Philadelphia because Wilson did not want to go to the East Coast. So off he goes to Denver, becoming the only quarterback ever to play for a team he beat in the Super Bowl.
And we’ll see him when he comes to Seattle next season, very likely for a prime-time game.
Meanwhile, Wagner gets a week’s head-start to find a new team. He is still a tackling machine, and he has some good years left.
This divorce was inevitable the minute the Jets overpaid C.J. Mosley at $17 million a year in March 2019. In July that year, the Hawks chose to extend Wagner for $18 million. If they had not paid him, they would have parted company in 2020. Instead, they put it off for two more years. We were always going to see this moment.
Wilson and Wagner were great players for Seattle, and we can celebrate that while also acknowledging it’s time to move on.
2 thoughts on “It was time”
That it may have been time doesn’t make the trade any more palatable, especially considering the paltry return: No impact players and just enough draft picks that SEA has to hit on all of them to have a chance of breaking even.
In the meantime, the club faces its weakest QB situation since the heydays of Rick Mirer and Dan McGwire. While scribes assure fans that SEA must have a “plan” (or they wouldn’t have made the trade), the reality is that finding a QB good enough to take a team to the Super Bowl requires a fair amount of blind luck. Hopefully, discovering a reservoir in the desert isn’t part of the plan.
Even so, it’s understandable that SEA would be unwilling to pony up the $50M/year that it would take to extend Wilson. Given that and given that he appears to have lost confidence in Carroll and Schneider, going once more into the breach would have been a repeat of last season, and maybe worse.
And for all of his failures to build an OL, Schneider has something of a track record when it comes to identifying QB talent. He championed drafting Wilson and was also willing to trade RW to CLE in order to make Josh Allen the top pick in the 2018 draft.* (Critics will carp about Charlie Whitehurst, but he was part of a volume strategy to avoid panicky drafting.)
So there could be light at the end of the 2023 tunnel. 2022 looks dark, though
*CLE therefore passed on both Allen *and* Wilson in favor of Baker Mayfield.
I don’t get some of the shock expressed over Wagner’s release. As you say, this was etched in stone the minute Mosely signed his contract. Bobby is still productive but no longer dominant, and no one can in today’s NFL can justify shelling out $18M for a good-not-great MLB.