The Russell Wilson saga these days seems to be sort of like the weather in Seattle — just wait an hour or so and something new figures to happen.
So, if you’re at all confused about where things stand, consider this a one-stop attempt to answer all the key questions, with an eye toward looking at what happens next.
Does Russell Wilson really want to be traded?
According to ESPN, Wilson’s agent, Mark Rodgers, said Wilson has not demanded a trade. But, he did list four teams that Wilson would approve a trade to — the Bears (huh?), Saints, Raiders and Cowboys.
So there’s obviously plenty that can be parsed there. Wilson is stopping short of demanding a trade but saying it’s OK if the Seahawks want to pursue one.
One reason Wilson can list approved teams is because he has a no-trade clause in his contract, which was one of the last sticking points before he signed his current deal in April 2019.
But Wilson probably won’t be traded because of his salary cap hit, right?
First off, Seattle doesn’t want to trade Wilson. This wasn’t something the Seahawks went into the offseason wanting to pursue, but something sort of foisted on them due to the reports of Wilson’s various dissatisfactions with the team, which appear to include unhappiness over his involvement in the offense and a desire for more say in team personnel and coaching moves.
But yes, if Seattle did want to trade Wilson, his dead salary cap hit of $39 million for the 2021 season if he is traded before June 1 will make it really difficult.
That dead hit is not negotiable as it encompasses what is the rest of the bonus money that has already been paid out to Wilson. On his Seattle contract, that money is spread out over the next three years. But if he’s traded before June 1 — which would be the most logical scenario — then Seattle has to take all of that on its 2021 cap.
Throw in that Seattle would likely want/need a veteran QB in return who might theoretically be making quite a bit of money, and spending potentially 25-30% or so of the team’s total cap on one position would make it tough to field a competitive team in 2021.
After June 1, the cap hit would be $13 million for each of the next three seasons. But by then, the draft would have been held and just about any significant free agent already spoken for, let alone not having a quarterback in place during the bulk of the offseason program.
Not that any of that is necessarily insurmountable, but it just doesn’t seem likely.
The cap ramifications are why NFL salary cap expert and former agent Joel Corry says he doesn’t think it likely Wilson would be traded now.
“I think we are really just being a little premature on a trade,’’ he said on his recent Inside the Cap podcast. “… There’s probably at least one more year, at least in my opinion, of Russell Wilson in Seattle and then we’ll see.’’
Indeed, trading Wilson after this season becomes much easier, including that he has no guaranteed money in his salary after 2021.
What’s the next big date to watch in any of this?
If something were to really happen with a trade, the start of the new league year and free agency on March 17 (with the legal tampering period beginning on March 15) could spur some action.
As for just how serious Wilson might be about wanting out, a key date would be April 19, when the Seahawks begin their offseason program. The program is technically voluntary and some players through the years who have had some unhappiness with their contracts or anything else have skipped it or attended sporadically — Michael Bennett, to name one in recent Seahawks memory, Earl Thomas another.
With Seattle having a new offensive coordinator set to install a new system, the offseason program seems more vital than ever this year, especially if teams will again not be allowed on the field with all work done virtually.
If Wilson really wanted to make a statement — assuming he is still a Seahawk — then he could not show up. It might seem unfathomable that Wilson would make such a move. But then, so was the thought of trading him a few weeks ago.
Who would make the final decision on a trade?
A couple of national reports in recent days have questioned Seattle’s organizational hierarchy and wondered if Pete Carroll has anyone to whom he is accountable given that owner Jody Allen has been essentially publicly invisible since taking over control of the team when her brother, Paul Allen, died in October 2018.
But for those who contend Allen has not been involved in any team affairs, it’s worth remembering she was involved in a couple of big recent personnel decisions, one involving Wilson.
Recall that general manager John Schneider said one of the last things he had to do before the Seahawks memorably reached agreement on a new deal with Wilson just minutes before he set an April 15 deadline in 2019 was getting approval from Allen for the contract and the no-trade clause.
“It’s something that I needed to discuss with Jody,’’ Schneider said specifically of the no-trade clause at a news conference to announce Wilson’s signing in April, 2019. “… It’s part of a negotiation.”
Schneider later that year also credited Allen with approving a private plane to whisk Jadeveon Clowney from Houston to Seattle quickly so he could get a physical and complete the trade that brought him to the Seahawks.
It’s never been a secret that Carroll has final say on football matters — he’s listed right there on the Seahawks directory as executive vice president of football operations as well as head coach.
So ultimately, yes, the organization has entrusted that power to Carroll, with a heavy assist from Schneider.
How much of a say Jody Allen has is hard to know. But to say it’s none also seems unlikely.
Is there any way for a happy truce to unfold?
Sure. At least, a temporary one.
As Times columnist Matt Calkins noted Tuesday, Tom Brady and Bill Belichick had what was portrayed to be a somewhat rocky relationship their last few years and managed to keep winning games and Super Bowls.
Aaron Rodgers was perceived to be miffed that the Packers drafted Jordan Love in the first round a year ago, putting in place a succession plan. Rodgers responded by winning the league’s MVP at age 37.
But Seattle’s stance appears to be that for now, that’s mostly what this is — rumors — with Wilson not having said publicly he wants out, and only the ESPN report doing as much as paraphrasing his agent, Rodgers.
The team may feel that responding publicly would give this all more validity than maybe the team thinks it’s worth. The Seahawks appear happy enough to let Carroll and Schneider speak on this during normally scheduled media availabilities (though at the moment, it’s unclear when any of those will be).
Coaches and athletes are used to living in an environment in which things can change greatly from one year to the next.
The best guess remains that Wilson stays in 2021, and then everything gets reassessed after Wilson has had a year in the new offense, and his contract makes it easier to make a move.