The Russell Wilson Dissatisfaction Tour keeps careening down the highway, with new revelations at every turn.
But as the depth and scope of the Seahawks quarterback’s grievances continue to emerge, the giant, overarching questions remains: What is the end game here?
There are three possible answers to where this all leads. And to borrow from the famous quote by former Ohio State coach Woody Hayes when discussing the three outcomes of a forward pass: “Two of them are bad.” (Seahawks coach Pete Carroll no doubt agrees with Woody on passing, which is kind of how we got into this mess. But I digress.)
Here they are:
1. Wilson and the Seahawks repair their rift, sing “Kumbaya,” and move forward together, arm in metaphorical arm.
2. The quarterback’s issues continue to fester, unresolved, and he heads into the 2021 season still under center for the Seahawks but filled with resentment.
3. Wilson is traded, presumably to one of the four teams his agent indicated to ESPN on Thursday as acceptable destinations.
The real eye-opener here is that No. 3 is no longer a laughable notion to be immediately dismissed out of hand as just more bored media members stirring up clickbait.
It remains a longshot, absolutely, and always will as long as the phrase “39 million dollars in dead cap money” still rolls off the tongue. But for the first time, it’s not an inconceivable notion.
When an agent is providing a list of teams to which his client would be willing to go, the trade scenario has officially entered the realm of the possible; indeed, plausible.
Now we’ll see if it gains legs. Let me amend that, because this story has already begun sprinting. Now we’ll see if it gains Usain Bolt speed.
Remember, the trade saga involving another Seattle sports icon, Ken Griffey Jr. — which at one point seemed as preposterous of a notion as dealing Wilson did a month ago — also began with Griffey presenting the Mariners with four teams to which he’d accept a trade. For the record, they were the Mets, Astros, Braves and Reds; Griffey later narrowed it to one — and was dealt to Cincinnati on Feb. 10, 2000.
A Wilson trade almost certainly would not be a good outcome for the Seahawks. The dead-salary-cap hit alone would handcuff the team from bolstering its weaknesses. And, oh yeah, the Seahawks would be without the quarterback who, for all the faults that critics are now conjuring up, remains a proven winner (with more victories through this stage of his career than any NFL quarterback) and one of the five best in the sport. Finding a suitable replacement is no sure thing; just ask the Bears, Browns, et al.
Put simply: For the Seahawks to be better without Wilson than with him in 2021 would take a nearly unprecedented feat of ingenuity, creativity and nerve by Carroll and general manager John Schneider. It would have to be a Herschel Walker-type deal with so much draft capital coming to Seattle that it would make your head spin. But the 1989 Walker trade that Dallas engineered with Minnesota worked out so beautifully for the Cowboys, leading directly to three Super Bowl titles, that teams learned never to make that mistake again.
And even if the Seahawks were to receive a treasure trove of draft picks, who would play quarterback? Landing anything close to the equivalent of Wilson would be another sleight of hand with a degree of difficulty so high as to be highly unlikely.
This is a Seahawks team that won 12 games last year and has perennial Super Bowl aspirations. It’s hard to imagine them being willing to take a step back for a year or two to groom a new quarterback — especially with Carroll hitting his 70th birthday in September.
If No. 3 is problematic, so is No. 2. A seething Wilson, one who feels that his best interests aren’t being served despite all he’s given the organization, would lead to an ever-present layer of tension hanging over the Seahawks season.
While it could be argued that negative motivation is motivation nevertheless, and might drive Wilson to a great season just to prove everyone wrong, Carroll’s whole coaching persona is built on molding a positive culture. Wilson’s brand is built around being a team guy who brings out the best in everyone. This would be the antithesis of that for both.
So that should prompt the Seahawks to open Door No. 1 — mending fences with the disgruntled quarterback. At some point, I suspect, that’s going to take an epic, air-clearing meeting of the minds where all of Wilson’s gripes are articulated, and the Seahawks make their best case for appeasing him.
Considering that Wilson and the Seahawks have a long shared history that has been largely positive, Carroll’s powers of persuasion and people skills are vast, and Wilson doesn’t seem wired to be a malcontent for the long term, it has a chance to succeed.
And that is the path the Seahawks should explore to its fullest extent, perhaps with Jody Allen, the heretofore reclusive owner (at least as far as having a visible public presence), as the facilitator. After all, it’s her team’s future at stake here.
I suppose there’s also a fourth possibility, an offshoot of No. 1. Namely, that the path to renewing Wilson’s joy of being a Seahawk comes down to an “it’s me or him” showdown involving Carroll.
It’s hard to know, from the outside, if the conflict is that severe. My hunch is that it has not reached that stage — yet. But if that’s the play, it’s hard to imagine the odd man out would be the beloved coach who just signed a five-year extension, who delivered the first championship in club history and who has produced playoff berths and double-digit wins virtually every year.
No, the Seahawks’ best path forward is with Wilson and Carroll on the same wavelength, having forged a means of repairing the chasm that soon will have much of the NFL trying to wrest away the best player in franchise history.