Today’s NFL quarterback news is perhaps best told in a tale of two emojis on Jerry Jeudy’s Twitter.
At 11:16 am, the Broncos wide receiver tweeted a frowning face, as the news broke that Aaron Rodgers was staying in Green Bay, squashing the rumors that he would be moving out west. And at 12:48 pm, he turned that frown upside down as NFL Network reported that the Denver Broncos would be getting Russell Wilson in what ESPN NFL insider Adam Schefter is calling “one of the largest trades in NFL history.”
After spending a decade with the Seahawks, who drafted Wilson in the third round of the 2012 NFL draft, the Super Bowl champion and nine-time Pro Bowler is heading to the AFC West, as first reported by NFL Network. Wilson will have to approve the trade and pass a physical before it is officially finalized.
In return for Wilson and a fourth-round pick, Schefter reported that the Seahawks will gain QB Drew Lock, TE Noah Fant, DE Shelby Harris, two first-round picks, two second-round picks, and a fifth-round pick. The Broncos are betting big on Wilson, who led Seattle to a Super Bowl victory over Denver in 2014.
Schefter also reported the Broncos’ official line on the Rodgers rumors, tweeting “Denver acquiring Russell Wilson has nothing to do with the Aaron Rodgers’ decision to return to Green Bay. Denver general manager George Paton initiated trade talks with Seattle for Wilson at least two weeks ago, per sources.”
The Seahawks certainly seem to have played hardball on this trade, and they’ll have plenty of momentum and opportunity to sign new talent with the first and second round picks they received in the trade. And on the other end, it’s clear that the Broncos are counting on Wilson to take them back into legitimate contention in the AFC West and eventually, of course, another Super Bowl.
In a division packed with talent, with Patrick Mahomes, Derek Carr, and Justin Herbert as the opposing starters, the Broncos have struggled to find their offensive footing since Peyton Manning’s 2016 retirement. They finished 7-10 this year with Teddy Bridgewater as their starting QB, dropping five of the final six games of the season despite their top-ten defense.
When Wilson signed a four-year contract with Seattle in 2019, it made him the highest-paid player in the league at the time. That salary has been eclipsed by several quarterbacks — notably, Mahomes makes $45 million a year — and a new record may have been set today by Rodgers’ new contract with Green Bay, which will reportedly pay out $200 million over four years.
The Denver Broncos franchise is currently up for sale, and while it’s hard to pin down precisely what factors lead a billionaire to buy an NFL team, having an elite QB at the wheel certainly can’t hurt. With a solid roster and a forward-looking championship mindset, the Broncos may prove to be even more valuable than originally projected.