The headline on the Pro Football Talk story was undoubtedly eye-catching — “Could Russell Wilson be traded by the Seahawks?”
Well, could is a powerful word.
Just about anything could happen. Wilson has said he wants to play until he’s 45 years old, and Hall of Fame quarterbacks such as Joe Montana and Warren Moon were traded late in their careers. And, if you didn’t hear, Tom Brady left the Patriots in free agency to sign with Tampa Bay this offseason.
So, sure, Wilson could leave someday, maybe even by trade.
But it’s not happening anytime soon — not with Wilson in the prime of his career at 31 years old and in the first season of a new four-year contract he signed last year. Wilson is the centerpiece of the Seahawks franchise and will remain so for as long as anyone can plan anything right now.
The newsier part of the PFT story was a report of a rumor that the Seahawks called the Browns in 2018 and tossed out the idea of trading Wilson for Cleveland’s first-round pick, which was the first overall selection.
“Per a source with knowledge of the situation, the Browns contend that the idea was ‘floated’ conceptually, but that the discussion did indeed happen,’’ PFT wrote.
If that sounds different than “the Seahawks offered Russell Wilson for Cleveland’s number one pick,’’ as it quickly got condensed to on Twitter and elsewhere, than that’s indeed the case, according to all available evidence.
This isn’t the kind of thing anyone involved with goes on the record to talk about, so there’s not going to be official confirmation or denial of a two-year-old trade rumor.
But as one person said, “all 31 teams called the Cleveland Browns that year,’’ as they do every year with whichever team has the first pick. GMs aren’t doing their job if they don’t at least call and see what might happen.
Cleveland also had the fourth overall pick that year.
And if the Seahawks did dangle Wilson in a trade with Cleveland the one thing I can say definitively is that it would have been for both the first and the fourth pick to start.
The Browns had the first overall pick by virtue of going 0-16. They’d gotten the fourth pick in a trade with Houston the year before in which the Texans moved up to take quarterback Deshaun Watson. (The Browns kept those picks and took QB Baker Mayfield and cornerback Denzel Ward).
But whether the Seahawks talked to Cleveland about Wilson for those picks should be regarded as: “hey, throw that out there and see what they’d say, so we know what the market is.”
As PFT noted, the Seahawks entered that draft with some uncertainty about the future of their quarterback spot, as they knew they were going to have to address Wilson’s contract following the 2018 season.
It’s thought the Seahawks would have seriously considered taking Patrick Mahomes had he fallen to them at 26 in the 2017 draft. He didn’t get close as Kansas City traded up to take him at 10 and the Seahawks traded out of the first round and ended up with Malik McDowell at 35.
Seahawks GM John Schneider was spotted the following year checking out Wyoming quarterback Josh Allen, who ended up going seventh overall to Buffalo.
Quarterback is an important position and Schneider moved up the ranks in Green Bay where the philosophy was to always have your bases covered. With at least some uncertainty over Wilson’s future, Schneider wouldn’t have been doing his job if he didn’t at least explore other possibilities.
But the plan was to sign Wilson to an extension, which got done last April 15, a contract that almost 13 months later leaves him as the highest-paid player in the league on an annual basis at $35 million a year from the 2020-23 seasons.
That contract includes a no-trade clause, which Wilson said in his news conference to announce the deal was a key to getting the deal done.
“We talked about the idea of a no-trade clause just because we really wanted to be here,” Wilson said. “That was the thing we were really excited about and that’s kind of what sealed the deal for us. I was really fired up about it.”
The Seahawks are unquestionably entering a decade where every year could bring significant change.
Pete Carroll will be 69 in September and has two years left on his contract. Schneider has three years left on his. Other than players on their rookie contracts, Wilson is the only player under contract beyond the 2022 season.
Wilson will be 35 when his contract runs out, and who knows what will happen then, especially if there are new people in charge.
But all of that is a long way away. If you own a Russell Wilson jersey, go ahead and keep it. It’ll still be good for a while.