John Schneider certainly has a plan for replacing Russell Wilson. It sounds like it might start with Deshaun Watson.
The Seahawks reportedly are among at least half a dozen teams who have been doing their research on Watson’s legal situation, which involves accusations by 22 women that he sexually harassed or assaulted them during massage sessions.
A Texas grand jury declined to indict Watson on nine criminal charges related to some of those civil cases, and Watson is now expected to be traded in the next week.
Two reports indicate the Seahawks — to the disappointment of many fans — are a strong favorite in the pursuit of the talented but troubled quarterback.
Like Wilson, Watson has a no-trade clause, so he will have a big say in where he goes.
It is understandable that many Seahawks fans are rooting against the team signing Watson, but NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah said on his “Move the Sticks” podcast, “In talking to friends around the league, the expectation from every single one of them is that when it’s all said and done Deshaun Watson’s gonna be the quarterback (for the Seahawks).”
It’s hard to imagine a team owned by a woman, Jody Allen, making that move. But it sounds like Pete Carroll and John Schneider may be comfortable with Watson — and the feeling may be mutual.
Watson had a pristine reputation on and off the field until the flood of allegations last year. He still faces the civil suits and a possible NFL suspension.
After his non-indictment, Watson said, “I’m going to keep fighting to rebuild my name and rebuild my appearance in the community. We’re going to continue on the legal side to handle what we need to handle, but also ready to get back on the field. Been prepping for that and ready to go for that.”
No surprise: Watson wants a team with a good coach, good offensive line and good defense.
Some would say the Seahawks have none of those. But Carroll is very player-friendly, the defense is not that far away from being good and the offensive line will be put back together by Schneider over the next six weeks.
Watson might look at the Hawks’ decade of sustained success and think Carroll and Schneider will get them back on track quickly, especially with him behind center in Wilson’s old spot.
What would the trade terms be? As Seattle perhaps found out, the return is not as good when the player controls the destination. So, even though the 26-year-old Watson is seven years younger than Wilson, that doesn’t mean he will command more in a trade.
The Texans reportedly want at least five assets, including three first-round picks. Wilson netted two first-rounders, two seconds and three players.
We could see Seattle giving up DK Metcalf (equal to at least a first-rounder), a 2022 second-rounder, a 2023 first-rounder and another player or two (options: Drew Lock, Shelby Harris, L.J. Collier, Kerry Hyder, Benson Mayowa).
Schneider surely does not want to release the No. 9 pick if he can avoid it. But, if Carolina offers three firsts, Schneider likely would need to put that top pick into the pot to have a shot.
As for Watson’s contract, he is signed through 2025. He is scheduled for a $35 million salary in 2022, but the Hawks surely would restructure that. They could cut the cap number in half and make a good portion of it (maybe $5 million) game roster bonuses.
They would recoup cap space for any game checks he missed on league suspension. The expectation is that he might get six games. That could mean a 2022 cap hit of something like $11 million.
Many Seahawks fans are hoping Watson will like Carolina. The Panthers reportedly have wanted Watson for a year and might offer the three first-rounders, including the sixth overall pick this year. They also have the cap space to add Watson despite also owing Sam Darnold almost $19 million guaranteed. Watson reportedly is OK going there, so that is probably where he will end up unless he likes Seattle, too, and Schneider outbids Scott Fitterer, his former personnel man who now runs the Panthers.
If Watson ends up in Seattle, Carroll and Schneider will get roasted for it — deservedly. But they are good people and would add him only if they thought he would fit well into the franchise and community. They seem willing to risk the wrath and departure of some fans (like most teams, they have never factored fan sentiment into their roster building).
On the field, there is no question that Watson is a mercurial talent — surely an upgrade over Wilson (and not just in the five extra inches of height). If Seattle gets him, he could end up the Seahawks’ QB through the end of the decade.
If the Hawks lose out on him, many fans will be happy. And Schneider will have to move on to Plan B. We should know how it turns out by early next week.