Russell Wilson has his toys, his record contract and his red-carpet wife. He has his fame, his adulation from fans and his Super Bowl ring, too. But last weekend, Wilson made clear that, in addition to all that, he also wants his superstars. Might be the only way he can get back to the game that he won’t be playing in Sunday.
A day before the Pro Bowl, Wilson told ESPN that his team needs a few more pieces on offense and defense to help spring Seattle to the top of the NFL. He emphasized free agency as being the area that is “very, very key to getting those superstars,” which came off as a challenge to coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider.
Hey, nobody is going to blame Wilson for wanting more, and it would be silly for the Seahawks to do anything that might squander their revered QB’s prime. Here are five thoughts on Wilson’s not-so-subtle request.
1. This would be easier if Wilson took a smaller contract.
I’m not saying he should have taken a smaller contract. In fact, in the most brutal, ruthless team sport in the nation, I would encourage players to get as much money as they can, whenever they can. That’s just about what every player does, and what just about every quarterback has done as well. But there is one QB who would consistently take less than market value despite his statistical accomplishments and MVP awards. And that pay cut allowed the brass to surround him with talent other top-dollar signal callers didn’t have. His name? Tom Brady. Just saying …
2. Superstars are scarce.
Defensive end Jadeveon Clowney is one of the players Wilson mentioned that he’d love to see back in a Seahawks jersey, and according to walterfootball.com, is the fourth-best free agent on the market. But just below him you’ll see names such as defensive end Shaq Barrett, who indicated he wanted to stay with the Bucs long-term. Or safety Justin Simmons, who said that he’d be willing to play on the franchise tag if it kept him with Denver’s defense for one more season. It isn’t too long until you get down to Quinton Jefferson, who’s 38th on the list despite being an average defensive end.
Talent is out there, and Schneider has a history of pursuing it aggressively. But it isn’t ubiquitous.
3. There is some urgency here.
Wilson is 31, which doesn’t seem old for a guy who plans to play until his 40s, but it’s an age worth noting given how critical mobility is to his prowess. Carroll, meanwhile, is 68 and has two years left on his contract. Schneider’s contract runs through the 2022 season.
Schneider and Carroll are prized and have proved themselves in the past, so it’s not as if future contract extensions for them will never come. But Carroll is the oldest coach in the NFL, and he has a quarterback in his prime — so it’s likely he’s more in “win now” mode than he has ever been.
4. Schneider has always been aggressive anyway.
Remember, this is the guy who went after Clowney as soon as it looked like he would be available last August. He did the same with left tackle Duane Brown in the middle of the 2017 season. He signed embattled receiver Josh Gordon when it seemed nobody else would take a chance on him, traded for Quandre Diggs in the middle of this last season and made a move for Sheldon Richardson just before the 2017 opener. All of these guys but Diggs have been in the Pro Bowl, and Diggs showed Pro Bowl talent for Seattle this season. It doesn’t seem as if Schneider needs any spurring from Wilson.
5. Carroll probably feels like he can build from within.
When you think of the truly great Seahawks from the Pete Carroll era, most came via the draft. There’s Wilson, Richard Sherman, Kam Chancellor, Earl Thomas, Bobby Wagner and K.J. Wright to name a few. Now, there is Tyler Lockett, Chris Carson and D.K. Metcalf on offense, Shaquill Griffin sneaking into the Pro Bowl on defense, and before he went to Kansas City, you had Frank Clark racking up 13 sacks.
It is likely that Carroll thinks there is a player or two within the program on the brink of “superstar” status.
That said, Wilson’s words shouldn’t be ignored. Fun as last year’s team was, they didn’t have Super Bowl talent.
Are more “superstars” the answer? Not necessarily. But more key pieces are.