RENTON — Three-and-a-half months after a report broke that Russell Wilson would approve a trade to one of four other NFL teams, the Seahawks quarterback finally spoke to Seattle media Thursday.
He did so roughly 90 minutes after the team concluded its 10 OTAs (organized team activities), taking questions for almost 30 minutes.
In the process, Wilson said he never requested a trade but admitted that a list had been submitted, noting he has a no-trade clause. He also said he still hopes to finish his career in Seattle and that he has had “great conversations’’ with team president Chuck Arnold, coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider since the trade rumors erupted and that all are on the same page and committed to one goal — winning, a word, or version thereof, that Wilson used time and again.
That Wilson acknowledged the trade list and that he was frustrated with the how the 2020 season ended may not totally quiet the idea that Wilson’s future is best viewed at this point as a year-to-year thing.
But as would be expected of the always PR-conscious Wilson, the overall theme was of trying to downplay the offseason contention, Wilson calling it “blown out of proportion’’ and play up the hopes of the 2021 season and beyond.
Here are some highlights of what Wilson said:
Yes, Russell Wilson’s trade list existed
Trade rumors involving Wilson picked up steam on Feb. 25 when ESPN’s Adam Schefter revealed that Wilson would approve a trade to Dallas, Las Vegas, Chicago and New Orleans.
And when pressed, Wilson admitted it existed.
After stories broke that he could be traded. Wilson said “obviously, tons of teams were calling, and I think that the reality was that I didn’t really want to go anywhere else. I wanted to play in Seattle, but if I had to go somewhere, here’s the teams I would consider. At the end of the day, I have a no trade clause, right?’’
Indeed, Wilson does, something he and the team agreed to in April 2019.
Schefter’s tweet cited Wilson’s agent, Mark Rodgers, as telling ESPN of the list of the four teams. Wilson indicated the news was given to ESPN in response to reports that Wilson had requested a trade, which came in the wake of an article in The Athletic that detailed his frustrations with the Seahawks organization.
“I think I was in (the) Bahamas or somewhere, and everybody was saying that I requested a trade,’’ Wilson said. “And that wasn’t true, so we made it clear that I did not request a trade, and then there’s teams being flown around that I was going to go to those teams and this and that.’’
Wilson insists he still wants to finish career in Seattle
Wilson’s contract lasts through 2023, but given the events of this year there will likely continue to be speculation about his future until he signs a new deal with Seattle, if he does someday.
But despite the publicly aired frustration, Wilson said he still hopes to finish his career with the Seahawks, a career he said he hopes doesn’t end until he is 45 or so.
“For me personally, you know, I hope I play my whole career here,’’ he said. “That’s my mission. That’s my goal.’’
Wilson says there are no hard feelings
Some have wondered if Wilson saying he is “frustrated’’ that he has been hit so often in his career might cause hard feelings with the offensive line.
But Wilson said no and that he doesn’t think he has to mend any fences.
“I think the best way to explain it is by my approach every day in the Zoom calls, by my approach on the field,’’ he said. “Obviously I’ve got great relationships with a lot of guys on this team. You know I think, too, that what explains everything is winning.’’
As for his relations with the team’s brain trust after an offseason that had the team in the headlines far more than anticipated, Wilson said all is good there, too, citing his talks with Arnold, Carroll and Schneider. The talk with Arnold, Wilson admitted, came in the wake of the Seahawks not mentioning him in a letter to season ticket holders.
“There were calls going around that I could have possibly been traded and I think the reality is that we had to have a lot of conversations,’’ Wilson said. “We had some great ones along the way and it made our relationship stronger, really, me and Pete and John.’’
The trade rumors erupted out of reports that Wilson was frustrated in particular with the direction of the team’s offense and especially a move back to running more in the second half of the 2020 season.
But Wilson insisted that if there had been any disconnect between himself and Carroll that it was over now.
“Coach Carroll and I spent a lot of time together, one on one, and you know we’re on the same page,’’ Wilson said. “We’re here to do what we’re meant to do, and that’s to win it all and now I’m excited and Coach Carroll and I’s relationship couldn’t be stronger.’’
Frustration was a result of not winning
What caught some off guard about Wilson’s comments in February is that they came after an end-of-season news conference with Seattle media in January in which he indicated no frustration. But after Wilson attended the Super Bowl, he gave two interviews in which he talked of his frustration with the season and his protection and that he wanted to be more involved in team personnel decisions.
Wilson acknowledged that watching the Super Bowl — which Seattle hasn’t played in for six years now — didn’t help.
“Listen, when I’m sitting at the Super Bowl and watching the Super Bowl, I should be pissed off, right?’’ Wilson said. “At the end of the day you shouldn’t be wanting to sit there and watch the game, you should be wanting to play, especially when you played it twice. … But I don’t think it was frustration, I think it was more just having a conversation and I think it got a little bit out of proportion.’’
Does Wilson want more say? He didn’t really say
Asked about having said on “The Dan Patrick Show” he wanted more say in team decisions, Wilson was evasive.
“I think that we were always having conversations,’’ Wilson said. “I don’t make the final decisions or anything like that you know.’’
And yes, he’d restructure his contract
Much was also made that Seattle could have restructured Wilson’s contract by converting almost $18 million in salary into bonus to kick almost $12 million in salary cap into the 2022 and 2023 seasons to create that same amount for this year. The Seahawks can actually do it without asking, but because Seattle didn’t, a perception has grown that maybe neither side wants to be tied more to each other into the future.
But Wilson said he would be on board with a restructure if necessary.
“We talked about it,’’ Wilson said. “Pete and I talked about it for sure. … We had a long conversation about it. I brought it up and he talked about it too and both, you know, in the sense of just doing whatever it takes to win. … If the situation calls for it, (I’d do it).’’