Where have I seen this story before?
A star quarterback upset with his coach. A coach who seems unwilling to give. A history of success that seems to matter less every day, as tension continues to mount.
Yes, that seems to be the situation between Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson and his coach, Pete Carroll. But in 2017 that also appeared to be the case with then-Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and his coach, Bill Belichick.
ESPN’s Seth Wickersham wrote about it in rich detail right as the playoffs were about to start, reporting major disagreements between Brady, Belichick and team owner Robert Kraft. The implication was clear: This could be it for Belichick and Brady — and given that Brady left for Tampa Bay last offseason, it wasn’t far-fetched.
But between the publication of that story and Brady’s departure, the Patriots reached two Super Bowls, won one, then notched a 12-4 season in TB12’s final year in New England. I bring this up because, though it seems clear that Wilson isn’t happy with the current state of affairs, there could still be a lot of wins for him and Carroll in Seattle over the next few seasons.
What we know: Wilson, 32, is under contract through 2023. This means that Seattle has an eight-time Pro Bowl quarterback under team control for at least three years.
There is no position in team sports more vital than the man under center in football, and in the NFL, finding a consistently productive signal caller is perhaps a general manager’s toughest task. In other words, the Seahawks aren’t going to part ways with Wilson unless one of two things happen: 1) They receive a borderline unfathomable trade offer from one of the teams he’d be willing to play for, or 2) Russell turns full heel.
I suppose the first one is always possible, but what would it take? The Jets, for instance, required two first-rounders and a starting safety to send Jamal Adams to the Seahawks. Would a team such as the Cowboys, Saints, Bears or Raiders — each of whom are on Wilson’s trade list — be willing to mortgage their future to acquire him? If Wilson were to sign off on a trade, after all, it would be to a team he feels he could contend for a title with — one that would have pieces surrounding him in the short and long term.
Is there an offer out there that would entice the Seahawks and satisfy Wilson? It’s not impossible, but it seems unlikely.
Unless, of course, Wilson becomes an open malcontent. Although that does seem impossible.
I remember Kobe Bryant openly asking for a trade on a radio show before the Lakers snagged Pau Gasol. I don’t see Wilson doing that. I remember James Harden publicly calling his situation in Houston unfixable. I don’t see Wilson doing that.
I’m watching Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson incessantly express his desire to get traded, communicating as much to recently-hired coach David Culley. I don’t see Wilson doing that.
To force the Seahawks’ hand, Russell would almost have to hold out, or skimp on his preparation, or become a locker-room curmudgeon, and I’m just not sure he’s wired that way.
And even if he were, he has cultivated an image of the ultimate teammate — the guy who never leaves off a name if you ask about a position group. For No. 3, it’s always been about “the process” and “winning.” Can anyone really see him abandoning those principles just because he is unhappy?
I don’t blame Wilson for feeling frustrated. He has been sacked more than any other quarterback since entering the NFL, and after last month’s playoff exit he watched Carroll emphasize how the team has to “run the ball more” moving forward — which likely irked Russell.
Even so, it’s hard to think he is going anywhere in the next three years.
This story isn’t mere media noise. It is clear there is tension between the coach and the quarterback — tension that might never be completely quelled. But as was the case with Brady and Belichick, Wilson and Carroll will prioritize winning over personal beef.
Seattle’s offense might never quite jell with Russell’s desires, and his influence may be limited. But victories will silence all the noise we’re hearing this offseason — and there are likely lots of victories to come.