RENTON — On the day the trade of Russell Wilson finally became official, the Seahawks and their former star quarterback didn’t agree on the impetus for his departure.
In a news conference in Denver that began three minutes after the trade was announced at 1 p.m. Seattle time — a nod to his jersey number — Wilson called the move a “mutual’’ decision and said, “I didn’t initiate it.”
At almost the same time, the Seahawks released a statement that said Wilson wanted to move on, including a quote from team chair Jody Allen that read: “While Russell made it clear he wanted this change, he made Seattle proud and we are grateful for his decade of leadership on and off the field. We look forward to welcoming our new players and to everyone being fully engaged while working our hardest to win every single day. I trust our leadership to take us into the future, and know we all wish Russell the very best.”
In a later news conference, Seahawks general manager John Schneider confirmed that Wilson had made it clear that any future contract negotiation would be challenging, at best.
Wilson was likely to want a new deal following the 2022 season — his contract ran through the 2023 season, but it’s typical for an extension to be negotiated heading into the final season of the deal. Asked if Wilson had told the team he would not sign another contract with the team, Schneider said, “I don’t know if those were the exact words, but we were under the impression that there wouldn’t be a long-term extension.’’
Coach Pete Carroll began the news conference with an almost 12-minute opening statement, in which he talked about the success the team has had during the time he and Schneider have run the organization and how this is another chance to prove they can construct a winning roster.
“We’ve been successful for a long time,’’ Carroll said. “And we’re proud of that. We’re also proud that we know what we’re doing and we believe in what we believe in and we’re fired up to kick it into high gear.’’
Of the approach the team is taking, Carroll said, “We look at this just like every other year. We’re trying to build a championship frickin’ football team right now. There’s no future, we’ll do it somewhere down the road. We don’t think like that. We’ve never thought like that. We’re not going to think like that now.”
Carroll and Schneider sung the praises of Drew Lock, one of the three players the Seahawks got in return (along with five draft picks) for Wilson, while mentioning unsigned free-agent QB Geno Smith as being a viable candidate for the job, as well. Both said they will continue to explore other QBs. Carroll was noncommittal on if Colin Kaepernick would be one of those saying, “I don’t know.”
In the team’s news release, Carroll and Schneider’s statements echoed Allen’s in stating that Wilson wanted out.
“As Jody stated, Russ’ desire in doing something different afforded the organization an opportunity to compete in multiple ways,’’ Carroll said in his statement.
Said Schneider: “When it became evident that Russell was interested in playing elsewhere, we used that opportunity to explore the market, allowing us to acquire three quality players, tremendous draft capital, and create salary-cap flexibility. We have a clear vision about the direction of this team, and this is an exciting time for our organization.”
In Denver, Wilson refuted that, saying “I didn’t initiate it; it was definitely mutual. Along the way. There’s definitely been a lot of conversations. It hasn’t been I initiating anything, but it is what it is. I’m excited, I’m happy to be here that’s all I know.”
Wilson joked that, “Obviously I’m happy about the 10 years I’ve had, but I think that … we’ll have to read about it later. We’ll have some fun in my book one day; we’ll have some good stories.”
Asked if the relationship could have been repaired to allow Wilson to stay, Carroll interrupted to again point out that Wilson wanted to seek greener pastures.
“It wasn’t about relationship, it’s about opportunity,’’ Carroll said. “I know Russ may describe it differently, but … he was open for another chance and to see what what could happen, and he’d seen a lot of great players and great athletes do a lot of great things by making that move somewhere in their careers.’’
Carroll said he began to accept the reality that a trade might be best for all involved sometime after the season “after a long discussion, a lot of time together and all that, that we were eye-to-eye. We were both ‘OK, all right, let’s go down this road. See what happens.’’’
Schneider said that he initially thought the odds of pulling off a trade “were not high’’ due to all the factors involved, including Wilson’s no-trade clause.
But Carroll said, “We were surprised at how good a deal came to us.’’
In Denver, Broncos general manager George Paton said talks had gone one for about a month and that it started “to get pretty serious’’ at the NFL combine the first week of March.
Wilson said Wednesday that once the Broncos and the Seahawks agreed on terms he flew to Denver to talk to team execs and that “all the signs said yes’’ and he was convinced to waive his no-trade clause.
Schneider said a final call on the Sunday before the trade (which was revealed on Tuesday) with Carroll, Allen and vice chair Bert Kolde solidified the decision to make the trade. Carroll said Allen gave her full support for dealing maybe the most influential player in team history, still in the prime of his career. The knowledge that Wilson was unlikely to sign another deal also helped sway the decision to make a deal now rather than wait a year.
Schneider said he recalled his years in Green Bay when the Packers made the decision to trade Brett Favre in 2008 with the Packers and winning the Super Bowl with Aaron Rodgers three years later.
“We relied on our faith and move forward,’’ Schneider said.
The trade terms were as reported — the Seahawks get two first-round picks — No. 9 overall this year and a 2023 first-rounder; two second-round picks — No. 40 overall pick this year and a 2023 second-rounder, this year’s fifth-round pick, tight end Noah Fant, Lock and defensive end Shelby Harris.
The Seahawks will send their fourth-round pick this year to Denver.
Aside from refuting the idea that he initiated the trade, Wilson did not appear to harbor any ill feelings toward the Seahawks, beginning his statement by thanking numerous people with the team including Allen, Carroll and Schneider.
“The old was really good,’’ Wilson said. “But I can’t wait for what’s new.’’
In Seattle, Schneider and Carroll said much the same.
“It’s going to benefit Russ going forward,’’ Carroll said. “And it’s going to benefit our club going forward, too.’’