RENTON — Will Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson ask out after the 2021 season?
That question has hovered ominously over the Seahawks since last offseason, when reports first circulated of the quarterback’s increasing restlessness with the direction of the franchise, and have only heightened in recent weeks as Seattle has fallen to the bottom of the NFC West.
But no better source than Wilson himself insisted on Thursday that not only is any thought of his future the last thing on his mind but that he continues to hope the only city in his future is Seattle.
“Hopefully I get to play here for 20 years of my career,” Wilson said when he held his weekly news conference Thursday. “Will that happen? I don’t know. But that’s my prayer. That’s my hope.”
Wilson made the comment after having been asked about a report Wednesday from Jordan Schultz, the son of former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz who does sports reporting for several outlets, that Wilson “would strongly consider waiving his no-trade clause for the Giants, Broncos and Saints.”
Wilson called the report “a nonstory,” saying he had seen it because someone had shown it to him.
“That’s not in my head right now at all,” Wilson said. “I didn’t say that, either. I’m focused on what we’re doing here. Obviously, I love Seattle. This is a place that I’ve loved every day, every moment.
“… I love this place, I love this space. I love where my mind’s at. I love where our team’s at. I think we can be better, you know, in this journey. But we can go as far as we want to go the next five weeks and plus. So that’s where my head is. So that’s a nonstory.”
Still, the topic of Wilson’s future figures to be a continuing storyline through the rest of Seattle’s season and into the offseason considering the events of last year and the way that this season has developed.
Wilson has two years remaining on a contract he signed in April 2019 that pays him an average of $35 million per season.
At the time, that made Wilson the highest-paid player in NFL history. Wilson is now the fifth-highest paid player in the NFL behind quarterbacks Patrick Mahomes of Kansas City ($45 million), Josh Allen of Buffalo ($43 million), Dak Prescott of Dallas ($40) and Deshaun Watson of Houston ($39 million).
The contract famously included a no-trade clause — rare in the NFL — which Seattle gave at the insistence of Wilson and his agent, Mark Rodgers. Seahawks general manager John Schneider said later he had to ask team CEO Jody Allen to approve it, saying “it’s something I needed to discuss with Jody.”
Wilson said at the time he wanted the no-trade clause to assure he would finish his career in Seattle.
“We talked about the idea of a no-trade clause just because we really wanted to be here,” Wilson said in 2019. “That was the thing we were really excited about and that’s kind of what sealed the deal for us.”
Of course, the clause also essentially gives him veto power if the Seahawks were to engage in trade talks.
Last winter, reports circulated that Wilson and his representatives would approve a trade to the Saints, Raiders, Cowboys or Bears.
Wilson later insisted he hadn’t asked for a trade, but credible reports stated that the Seahawks and Bears did talk about a trade before Seattle decided to cut off negotiations.
In June, Wilson said: “I did not request a trade. I’ve always wanted to play here. The reality is, I think calls were getting thrown around and this and that, and I think that’s just the reality. But at the end of the day the real reality is that I’m here, and I’m here to win, and I’m here to win it all.”
That he is now 33, has just two years left on his contract and that the contract would make him far easier to trade than a year ago will also help fuel speculation. Specifically, there is no more guaranteed money in Wilson’s contract and the Seahawks would now get significant cap savings — $11 million in 2022 and $27 million in 2023 — if he were to be traded.
There also figures to be conjecture about the direction of the team and whether Schneider and coach Pete Carroll will remain in charge, which will only lead to continued speculation about Wilson’s future, as well, until something is resolved, one way or the other.
It was just last November that the Seahawks signed Carroll to a new contract through the 2025 season and last January that Seattle re-signed Schneider through the 2027 draft.
But in the NFL, anything can happen at any time, and an NFL Network report over the weekend stated that Allen is not happy with the season and will evaluate things after the season.
For now, though, Wilson is insisting that whatever is done after the season won’t happen because he wants to play somewhere else.
Asked if he planned to play out his contract, Wilson said “that’s my hope” then added the line about hoping to play in Seattle for “20 years of my career.”
He is in the midst of year 10.
“All that stuff’s in the future,” Wilson said. “That stuff’s down the road. I think my mission and my focus that I can only do right now is focus on right now, today — third down, red zone, light it up, have a great day, bring as much energy, as much focus, as I can to this football team. And as I mentioned, I love this place. I love this city and this team and what we can do. So I think my focus is on that and that’s really what matters.”