There’s just one more game left in what has been the strangest and toughest regular-season of Russell Wilson’s NFL career.
But once the clock strikes zero Sunday in Glendale, Arizona, the question becomes: What will the offseason bring?
Will it include the same kind of rumors as last offseason, when drama over Wilson’s future endured for months?
Asked another question about his future during his weekly session with the media Thursday, Wilson tried to diffuse the situation a bit.
“What I’m really super passionate about, obviously my goal is to win more Super Bowls,’’ Wilson said. “And my plan is to win them here. It’s that simple. There’s really nothing else out there other than that.’’
But if that comment seems definitive, it isn’t likely to stop the rumor mill until a few more unquestionably definitive things happen — notably the Seahawks organization making clear who will lead them into the future.
Will coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider be back?
There’s been no indication that the two won’t return, but the team’s 6-10 record has led to inevitable speculation, as has the fact that Jody Allen — whose official title is chair of the Seahawks — has said nothing publicly, which helps allow the rumors to run unabated.
As several league sources noted this week, everything with the Seahawks involving which players will return starts with clarifying the direction of the franchise.
Assuming Schneider/Carroll return — and that Carroll’s contract runs through 2025 and Schneider’s through the draft of 2027 makes that the betting-line favorite — the focus will shift to Wilson.
Wilson has repeatedly stated his desire is to remain in Seattle while stopping short of flat-out saying he won’t go anywhere.
Of course, his future is not totally in his hands.
Wilson remains under contract for two more years with the Seahawks on a four-year, $140 million deal he signed in the spring of 2019.
That deal made Wilson the highest-paid player in the NFL at the time at $35 million a season. He has fallen to fifth in average per season with Kansas City’s Patrick Mahomes the highest-paid player at $45 million a year.
Wilson’s dead salary-cap hit decreases markedly as he has no more guaranteed money in his deal, which makes him easier to trade. He also becomes more of a bargain for the Seahawks as other QBs pass him in salary. Wilson’s contract famously includes a no-trade clause, something the Seahawks agreed to at the last minute and only after Schneider got the OK from Allen.
It was the no-trade clause that fueled the rumors of last offseason when ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported in late February that Wilson’s agent, Mark Rodgers, “has told the Seahawks he wants to play in Seattle but, if a trade were considered, the only teams he would go to are the Cowboys, Saints, Raiders, Bears.’’
Schefter reported last Sunday, on the eve of the win over Detroit, that “there is a leaguewide feeling, according to sources, that Carroll and Wilson will not be together again next season, which would represent the end of one of the most successful head coach/quarterback duos in NFL history.’’
Wilson was asked Thursday about the clause and that he could “definitely squelch rumors’’ instead of appearing to leave the door open when asked about his future. Wilson gave an answer that, again, didn’t exactly slam the door on rumors.
“When it comes to the no-trade clause in sports, the main reason is so teams can’t trade somebody to anywhere,’’ Wilson said. “That’s the number one reason right? Because in sports, you know, you can wake up, the next morning you’re gone somewhere else. That’s the number one reason.’’
Wilson followed that up with his comment that his “plan” is to stay in Seattle.
But if that leaves a little uncertainty, what is clear is that the Seahawks won’t want to go through another offseason like last year’s, where talk of Wilson’s future lingered for months.
This year there is a financial deadline as Wilson’s contract includes a clause that he is due a $5 million bonus if he is on the roster five days after the new league year, which this year begins March 16 (Wilson’s contract did not include such a clause for last season).
That bonus might not deter a move later in the year. But it was designed in part to assure that Wilson’s fate would be decided by the time of the free-agent signing period.
Of course, none of that gets into whether the Seahawks would consider a trade if Wilson made it clear that he wants a fresh start or what teams might offer.
One report last year said the Bears offered the Seahawks three first-round picks, a third-round pick and two starters, but the Seahawks turned it down after Carroll decided he wanted to keep Wilson. Would they get as rich an offer again this year with Wilson a year older and coming off an injury that has led to some of the worst games of his career?
Carroll will be 71 next September and might be even less willing to make any trade that might mean a period of rebuilding.
The Seahawks’ record this year has led many to conclude that the team should begin a rebuilding phase.
But the Seahawks can point to five losses by three points or less as proof of how close they were to making the playoffs once again, especially when considering that Wilson missed three games and wasn’t totally himself for a few more because of a right middle finger injury suffered against the Rams on Oct. 7.
Wilson throwing for four touchdowns last week and the Seahawks scoring 51 points — and a yard short of a franchise-record-tying 58 — might help convince everyone to run it back one more year.
As Wilson ended his roughly 18-minute media session Thursday he was asked another question about his future and his relationship with Carroll. He gave another answer in which he said he doesn’t want to leave Seattle while stopping short of saying he will stay.
“We have always thought that I would always be here and that has been my goal,’’ Wilson said. “Like I said to you guys, my goal is to win multiple Super Bowls. My plan is to be here, and to do that.’’