Deshaun Watson has some competition for the most dramatic quarterback situation this offseason – it looks like things are a little gloomy in the Pacific Northwest. Tensions are rising between Russell Wilson and the Seattle Seahawks, and as Deadspin’s resident Seahawks fan, it’s my job to try and explain this current situation while keeping my heart mostly out of it. So here it goes.
First, the contract. Wilson is the third-highest paid quarterback in the league (and all-time) with an average annual salary of $35 million. Until the Texans backed up the Brinks truck for Watson at $39 million per year and the Chiefs essentially made Mahomes the Governor of Missouri with the largest contract in all of American sports history ($450 million over 10 years), Wilson was at the top of the list.
Here’s the difference — Mahomes and Watson are 26. Wilson is 33.
So, where did the rumors of trouble in paradise begin? CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora (so, take it with a grain of salt) posted on twitter that he was “hearing Russell Wilson’s camp has grown increasingly frustrated by the Seahawks inability to protect the 8-time Pro Bowler. He has been sacked 394 times in 9 seasons. This situation warrants monitoring.” At first, this sounded like offseason smoke coming from the agent of a player trying to pressure an organization to make some changes. I didn’t really buy it. Then, on Tuesday, in a Zoom press conference after winning the NFL’s Walter Payton Man of the Year Award on Saturday, Wilson confirmed La Canfora’s reports.
“I’m frustrated on getting hit too much. I’m frustrated with that,” Wilson said.
Wilson also appeared on the Dan Patrick show, where he was asked if the Seahawks have received any calls about a potential trade for him. “Yeah I definitely believe they’ve gotten calls, for sure,” Wilson said. “Yeah, but you’re a franchise quarterback, you’re a Hall of Fame quarterback. You’re not available, are you?” Patrick asked. “I’m not sure if I’m available or not, that’s a Seahawks question.” He went on to say “I’m not sure how long I’ll play in Seattle — hopefully it’s forever, but things change.”
The next day, Patrick reported that the Seahawks brass is none too happy with Wilson’s candor this week. “A source told me that the Seahawks’ management is not happy with Russell Wilson and his camp for taking this to the media,” Patrick said. “You wonder if they’re going to be able to coëxist. The current situation is not sustainable. That’s what I was told.”
Wilson has every right to be frustrated. Since 2014, the last time the Seahawks were in the Super Bowl (ah, the good ol’ days… remember when we were supposed to be the next dynasty, and then Pete Carroll fucked it all up by throwing on the goal line and losing the locker room? Fun times), no team has spent less on their offensive line than Seattle, and no team has re-signed fewer drafted offensive lineman than Seattle. They haven’t signed a single offensive lineman to a second contract. Not one. To be fair, I wouldn’t sign the garbage players general manager John Schneider has been drafting since then either.
So, where do things stand? Wilson has an absurdly high contract and is 33 years old, Schneider inexplicably received a six-year contract extension (after I specifically asked the Seahawks not to), the Seahawks are expected to only have around $2 million in cap space going into the 2021 season, have only three draft picks this year, don’t have a first-rounder for the next two drafts (which I guess doesn’t matter because Schneider can’t hit on a first round pick to save his life), and have aging stars at their impact positions. Oh, and Wilson is frustrated with them, and they’re frustrated with him.
This is fine. This is totally fine.
It would be damn near unprecedented for a team to trade away a franchise quarterback with a Hall of Fame resume, but the Seahawks are running out of options. Schneider’s new contract ensures that he has the freedom to rebuild this team without worrying about his job security. The only question the Seahawks need to ask themselves is if they are OK with accepting mediocrity until Wilson leaves in free agency in three years, or if they want to get something in return for him now and press the reset button. And on that note, my stomach hurts, and it’s time for some Pepto Bismol and a therapy session.