Now that his agent has fired anonymously the first volley in the Russell Wilson Winter of Discontent Saga, Part Deux, and after the week’s NFL development playoff developments, a question arises before the House of Seahawks:
How would Wilson know where the chances for his stated goal of winning three more Super Bowls are better served than in Seattle?
After one quarter of NFL’s head coaches were purged, and the three teams that made the playoffs after finishing last a year ago (Bengals, Eagles, 49ers) have young quarterbacks in their pipelines, it is increasingly difficult to spot the smoothest road to the 2023 Super Bowl.
Certainly there will be a few, with the Denver Broncos the early leader in the clubhouse with both vacancy and resources for a deal. But the franchise is likely up for sale by the heirs of the late Patrick Bowlen. Estimated price: $4 billion. Who know what awaits?
If franchise stability and commitment is sought, there can be place better than the Dallas Cowboys.
Yet the Cowboys have not been to as much as a conference championship game since 1995, when the coach was Barry Switzer and QB Troy Aikman was handing off to Emmitt Smith and throwing to Michael Irvin.
The franchise incompetence continued Sunday, when the 12-5, division-champ Cowboys committed unprecedented nincompoopery on the final play of their 23-17 home wild-card loss to the underdog 49ers. Their season ended after a bizarre QB draw for Dak Prescott with 14 seconds left that ran out the clock, denying time for a potential game-winning throw into the end zone.
The video, destined to be played so incessantly that long-dead pharaohs in Egypt eventually will bear witness, shows that the Cowboys out-ran the umpire, who by rule must set the ball before the next snap. Not a good look for the NFL’s highest scoring offense (operated by the third-highest paid quarterback) that also led the league in penalties.
Calls for the head of coach Mike McCarthy will echo across the Texas prairie, and with owner Jerry Jones in charge, he may well listen, especially if the episode becomes immortalized as The Fail Jerry.
The point here is not to mock the Cowboys (although that is a savory side benefit) but to mock the loopiness of the NFL.com story Sunday about Wilson’s desire to “explore his options” regarding other teams, despite coach Pete Carroll having made clear the obvious — the Seahawks have no intent to trade him.
Without quotes or attribution, reporter Ian Rapoport wrote that “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.”
While the story contained no trade demand, it was plainly planted with the NFL organ to agitate swiftly the marketplace, even though Rapoport claimed several calls to agent Mark Rodgers went unreturned. Wink, nudge.
Seahawks fans saw the tactic deployed a year ago, when Rodgers planted with ESPN’s Adam Schefter the four teams for which Wilson would agree to waive his no-trade clause — the Saints, Cowboys, Raiders and Bears. But that was after the Super Bowl. The Wilson hijinks are off to an early start in 2022.
After the ploy came to naught, Wilson returned smiley-faced to the Seahawks. He suggested the media “was confused.” So, in order avert “confusion” a second time, it seemed pertinent to call out the ploy first thing.
That is not to say that Wilson won’t be traded. But the circumstances have changed this year, particularly regarding the simple but overlooked fact that Wilson’s deal is down to its final two seasons.
As an age-34 QB who relies on his athleticism more than Tom Brady and some others, his trade value likely has slipped some. His final two games indicated a near-complete recovery from finger surgery, but the first four showed how he seemed to hold the franchise hostage to his desire to return in “record” time, though it proved unwise.
He remains an undeniably valuable player, but the more nice things he says about staying in Seattle, the more inclined I am to believe he’ll test free agency when he’s eligible in two years, whether he remains here or elsewhere.
Two years can seem a long way away. But not to an NFL general manager who has to calculate what to trade for a player that seems likely to be a two-year rental.
We have seen teams pay exorbitant prices for a proven QB. Take the Rams, for instance. Ten months ago, they traded to Detroit their own starter, Jared Goff, a 2021 third-round pick, a 2022 first-round pick, and a 2023 first round pick, for Matthew Stafford, 34 next month.
The driver for the over-pay was the pride of owner Stan Kroenke to have his Rams in the Super Bowl he is hosting next month at SoFi Stadium. The wisdom of that maneuver may get played out Monday night, when the Rams host the Arizona Cardinals in the final game of the wild-card weekend.
A Cardinals win might send a chill through the QB marketplace of a copy-cat league if Stafford makes more of the same turnovers that got Goff traded.
Wilson is certainly free to explore his options, but the marketplace may have passed its peak for teams he likes, as well as for teams that could make the Seahawks sort of whole in a deal. Meaning Sunday’s story was sound and fury signifying nothing.
If that proves the case, then Wilson should be congratulated later on for avoiding further “confusion” when he spoke the truth earlier this month.
“My goal is to win more Super Bowls and my plan is to win them here. It’s that simple,” he said. “There’s nothing really else other than that.”
Even simpler would be to say that no one who speaks for him is authorized to say otherwise.