The most recent NFL offseason was so chock full of Aaron Rodgers news that it’s easy to forget all the drama that surrounded Russell Wilson and his relationship with the Seattle Seahawks. While Wilson claimed he wanted to remain in Seattle, he did express discontent with how team personnel decisions had been handled and how often he was getting hit behind the line of scrimmage. Wilson also never ruled out the possibility that he could be traded before the start of the 2021 season.
Obviously, several teams would’ve been interested in snagging the seven-time Pro Bowler, but one team was consistently brought up in rumors: the Chicago Bears. The Bears were fresh off an 8-8 season that saw them sneak into the playoffs as the NFC’s seventh seed, and were looking for a difference maker at quarterback to replace the underwhelming Mitchell Trubisky and really put the Bears over the edge as one of the league’s elite franchises. Wilson would’ve been a huge upgrade at the quarterback position, and for a team that ranked outside the top 20 in total offense each of the past three seasons, he would’ve almost automatically made the Bears one of the most fearsome teams in the league. Of course, though, the Bears would’ve had to have given up some of their key pieces in order to acquire Wilson. So, exactly how much did the Bears think Wilson was worth?
Yeah, that’s a whole lot of good stuff the Bears put on the table there. At least it looks that way at first glance. Keep in mind that three first-round picks is what the 49ers gave away in order to acquire the third overall pick — an unproven rookie QB who was likely going to sit behind Jimmy Garoppolo for an entire season before being handed the reins to the offense. So, I guess the question essentially boils down to: Is a third-round pick along with either Khalil Mack or Akiem Hicks and a player to be named later equal to the difference in talent between Wilson and Trey Lance?
When you start wording it like that, the trade starts looking much less favorable for Seattle. Then, you start to realize that the picks Chicago offered likely wouldn’t be that good either because Wilson is famous for being a winner. He’s the only quarterback in NFL history to have a winning record in each of his first nine seasons. So, it’s not even Lance we should be comparing Wilson to, but rather a late first-round quarterback. For guys like Lamar Jackson and Rodgers, that might not sound that bad, but in general, late first-round quarterbacks tend to struggle more than top-10 picks, unless their name is Josh Rosen.
Knowing what we know now though, with the injury Wilson suffered this season and his poor play since returning, should Seattle have made the trade? The answer is still no.
Wilson is 33 years old, yes, but the prime for quarterbacks has been extended by a considerable margin in recent years. It’s not unreasonable to assume that Wilson could continue playing at a high level until he’s 39-40. Plus, even with how poorly Wilson has played in his past two games since returning from Injured Reserve with a broken finger, completing just over 50 percent of his passes with zero touchdowns and two interceptions, his play before suffering the injury gives reason to believe he can turn his fortune around.
Before being sidelined for four weeks, Wilson was shredding opposing defenses. You know, the same thing he’s been doing for years at this point. Despite being one of the most pressured quarterbacks in the league, Wilson recorded a passer rating over 100 in four of his first five games. Even if Wilson can’t turn his misfortune of the past two weeks around, the Seahawks built a potential out in his contract following the 2021 season. Even IF Wilson is not the same quarterback he was before the injury, it’d be much better to ride with the guy who’d brought your team to the playoffs in all but one season of his career rather than the key defensive players and unpredictability of draft capital that helped the Bears go 8-8 each of the past two seasons.
While obviously it would’ve been great to regain their draft capital they traded away in their deal for Jamal Adams, the Seahawks know that landing another quarterback like Wilson in the draft is practically impossible.
Of course, there’s always the argument that, “Well, by trading Wilson, who was already frustrated with his offensive line in Seattle, to the Bears who have an even worse offensive line situation, Wilson would remain frustrated and would likely request a trade from Chicago after just one season. So, if you’re catching my drift, the Seahawks could potentially trade back for Wilson at a much lower price because it’d be unlikely that Wilson would want to play there for another season. He said he never wanted to leave Seattle, so it’d make sense that he wanted to return there.” That just sounds like a fantasy world. Yes, Wilson would’ve likely hated his time in Chicago behind a hilariously awful offensive line while managing a game plan constructed by Matt “why ain’t he fired yet” Nagy, but the idea of everything stated above falling perfectly into place is just too improbable.
The Seahawks played it safe by keeping Wilson. It was the right choice. It will always be the right choice. No matter what happens to Wilson in the future, the Seahawks showed that they were willing to ride with the guy who kept the Hawks in title contention for years with mediocre talent around him. It’d take a lot more than a solid pass rusher and a few draft picks to snag someone like that.