- Rather than giving their franchise QB a record-setting, salary cap-eating new contract, would the Seahawks consider taking advantage of the rookie wage scale and trading Russell Wilson?
On the Monday Morning NFL Podcast, Andy Benoit and Gary Gramling discussed the hypothetical scenario of a Russell Wilson trade…
GARY: Well let’s get into the money a little bit because that’s really what we’re coming down to here. Wilson will presumably get over $30 million annually. He’s probably going to go against that Matt Ryan number ($94.5 million) as far as fully guaranteed money goes. In short, he takes up a lot of cap space if you’re going to have Russell Wilson as your quarterback. Back in 2015, they gave him a four-year $88 million deal. It was a lot of money at the time. Obviously the cap keeps growing and the market keeps growing for quarterbacks. The question is, someone’s going to pay him, if you’re the Seattle Seahawks, are you that team?
ANDY: My perfect scenario if I’m John Schneider, their GM, and Pete Carroll, is we play him this year on his affordable contract and trade him next year for a boatload. That raises the question, whom are you trading with and under what conditions? And that’s where it gets harder, the rest of the NFL, they want to have this cheap quarterback advantage too. There aren’t a ton of quarterback-needy teams right now. Look at the trade market for Josh Rosen, who was a first-round pick last year. If I’m Seattle, if I can get two first-rounders for Wilson, I think I’m doing that. If I get three first-rounders for Russell Wilson, that’s a no-brainer to me if I’m the Seahawks.
GARY: I don’t know if anybody’s giving up three first-rounders.
ANDY: I don’t either.
GARY: Realistically, I think two first-rounders, if gets traded, that’s a realistic market.
ANDY: I think that’s the floor for a quality starting quarterback. Without citing specifics, I can almost guarantee based on some of the stuff I’ve heard around the league about trades that could’ve happened but didn’t, that’s the floor for sure. I think it’s two 1s and some second- or third-round picks too.
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GARY: Then how are you getting your next guy? Are you drafting him?
ANDY: I would. Let’s assume there’s someone in the draft they like in Seattle—which is a big assumption, but we’re just having a hypothetical conversation. That’s absolutely the route I’d go because our offense, what’s also true about a run-based/play-action offense is it is simple on the quarterback. You hand the ball off or you read half the field, which is what you do on almost every play-action pass. You’re not doing full-field reads. I would say, in theory, you could transition a rookie quarterback into that approach pretty well and not skip a beat. That brings us back to the money. Why would we pay Russell Wilson $30 million-plus when all we’re asking him to do is run a fairly simple scheme that other quarterbacks can run. Intellectually, they can run it. They’re not as talented, but they can at least attempt what we’re asking them to do.
GARY: I think that’s what it comes down. You’re getting someone less talented in all likelihood. You have a known commodity with Russell Wilson. You have a guy you’ve won a Super Bowl with, you’ve been to the playoffs even after he’s got this larger deal and you’ve re-tooled the roster around him. Let’s say there’s a quarterback they love and want more than Russell Wilson. Presumably you have to move to the top of the draft to get that guy. Is your three late first-rounders going to convince another quarterback-needy team to trade out? Are you sure you can get the opportunity to trade up and draft this guy who is also, in his own way, an unknown quantity?
ANDY: That’s a great question, because if you can’t, what’s your fallback option? Is it a safe enough fallback option that you’d be willing to take the gamble. The last thing you’d want to do is trade Russell Wilson and not get your guy in the draft somehow and then you just flat out don’t have a quarterback. If you would ever make a move as big as trading your franchise QB, I would imagine you’d only do so under the condition you’re 99.5% sure you get what you want down the road.
GARY: You got to have that guy ID’d at that point.
ANDY: The money is still what complicates this. What’s a veteran QB going to cost vs. a rookie, four to five times as much by the time it’s all said and done? Is Russell Wilson four or five times better than the next option? Is he three times better than a rookie option? That difference in money is worth two superstar defenders potentially, and probably four or five starting-caliber players.
ANDY: That’s not what we’re talking about.
GARY: It kind of is, it always comes back to that.
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