The Same Stumbling Block Remains: Motivation

Analysis: Seattle needs to come out of any trade of Russell Wilson with a starting quarterback and Bears have to find a way to fill the need.
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It's less than two weeks until the draft. 

If the Bears plan to revisit the Russell Wilson trade and make one last attempt to dislodge the Seattle quarterback, it needs to be now.

The last word on the topic was Seahawks coach Pete Carroll wasn't interested in dealing his quarterback after a 12-4 season with a division title. Teammates even said Wilson told them he wasn't going anywhere.

With all due respect to Seahawks defensive lineman Carlos Dunlap — the player who said Wilson told him he's staying put — the quarterback will be going where the Seahawks send him and he already said Chicago was one of his choices.

It was understandable Carroll wouldn't want to part with his quarterback, even if they seemed at odds with each other. 

After all, Wilson has failed to quarterback them to the playoffs just once, earned them a division title last year and they've had a winning record every single season Carroll has coached him.

While the Bears appeared to move on with the Andy Dalton signing, no one was convinced this was done.

"They are inclined today not to move him, but I want to see the draft come and go before I’m ready to say that Russell Wilson will be a Seahawk this year,” ESPN's Adam Schefter said after reporting the deal had been declined.

So if the Bears revisit this trade before the draft, they'll need to change their approach.

It's pretty simple. They must offer even more.

If Carroll wouldn't bite on the earlier reported trade offer of three first-round picks, a third-round pick and two veteran starters, then they should revise the offer.

The New Offer

The Bears should go to their 20th pick in Round 1, first-round picks in 2022, 2023, a second-round pick in 2023 and four starters—James Daniels, Akiem Hicks, Jaylon Johnson and Andy Dalton.

Daniels is a center or guard. The Seahawks have Ethan Pocic at center. Pro Football Focus has graded Pocic well down the pack among centers, and Seattle could stand to improve at the position. Daniels' worst year was 65.8 last year, which is better than Pocic's best year as a blocker. 

Daniels nearly reached the 70s in PFF grading the previous two years. In 2019, he was 14th among 35 linemen graded. In 2018, he was 20th among 77 graded as he moved between guard and center. His natural position in college was said to be center.

The Bears can stand to lose a guard/center. They have too many as it is. 

No one is exactly sure what they plan to do with Daniels because they liked Sam Mustipher's play as starting center last year when they won three of their final four regular-season games. Cody Whitehair was outstanding as the left guard. They have both Germain Ifedi and Elijah Wilkinson and two seventh-round draft picks from last year, and all are said to be able to play guard or tackle. 

Alex Bars fit well as a late-season starter at right guard last year. And they are likely to take a tackle in the draft. So, Ifedi or Wilkinson or Bars could be the right guard.

What's Not to Like?

Seattle couldn't dislike a clear upgrade at center.

As far as Johnson, last year Seattle was 31st against the pass. The Seahawks have really done nothing in free agency to improve at cornerback.

Ahkello Witherspoon was their big cornerback acquisition and he has had some impressive play with San Francisco but started only 33 of the 64 games he's been eligible to start since coming into the NFL. He's been injured or a backup. Tre Flowers had an abysmal 105.7 passer rating against last year and D.J. Reed shows promise but not production. Johnson would upgrade them at the position and become an immediate starter after he started the first 13 games last year before a season-ending ankle injury.

Hicks would give them the extra inside dominance against the run they need, and also supply an interior pass rush better than anyone on their current roster ever has.

As for Dalton, the Seahawks would need a quarterback from this trade. Dalton is a player they coveted when he was drafted. They would be getting three first-round picks and a second. They could easily use those in a package offer to move up in the draft and select Justin Fields or Tre Lance, if they wanted.

“This is a situation that bears watching right when we get close to the draft,” Schefter said on ESPN's "Get Up," after the trade was declined. “(It’ll be) when Seahawks general manager John Schneider has done the necessary due-diligence on all of the top quarterback prospects and he knows that any package he gets either contains a quarterback he wants or the ability to go draft a quarterback that he wants.”

The side benefit to acquiring Hicks, Johnson, Daniels and Dalton is cost. Dalton is only costing $5.5 million this year. Daniels and Johnson are still on their rookie contracts. Hicks is in the last year of his contract and his salary due of $10.4 million could easily be turned into some bonus cash prorated for the future in an extension.

An offer of three first-round picks, a second-rounder and four players ought to catch anyone's attention. If it doesn't, increase the offer. Add back the future third-rounder.

The Stumbling Block

Quarterback still will be the factor holding up a trade, along with Carroll's age. Some view the fact Carroll turns 70 this season as a stumbling block, that he doesn't want to be making long-term moves at his age.

This seems like an issue easily ignored because Carroll is in excellent shape and reminds many of Marv Levy, who coached in his 70s. He was even an NFL executive in his 80s.

The Seahawks would need to know they can move up into the fourth, fifth or sixth spot of the draft to get a crack at the desired rookie quarterback with potential to start immediately. Fields or Mac Jones would give them this. Dalton would supply insurance if it takes a little while.

That trade would need to be worked out in conjunction with the Bears-Seattle trade.

Also, would the Seahawks even want Dalton?

They should. He'd be a perfect bridge or backup to Lance starting, or a backup to Fields, assuming Lance needs a little more seasoning than Fields because of his lack of college experience.

The backup Seattle quarterbacks currently are Danny Etling and Alex McGough, who haven't thrown an NFL pass. It's safe to say they'll try to add a backup with some experience, but will it be a backup and a starter?

It's Still Possible

The cash still lines up on both sides, as Seattle hasn't restructured Wilson's contract and it has the right to do it. 

As long as that $19 million salary hasn't been converted to restructured bonus cash against future Seattle caps, then the Seahawks could deal him.

On the Bears side, losing Hicks and Johnson would be devastating. They've already lost Kyle Fuller for cap purposes. There is a line of thinking that this was something the Bears planned on doing, anyway, either through trade or by cutting him. Fuller didn't want to take a pay cut.

The theory behind this Bears team was they should try now to win while their defense is dominant like the 2018 defense, and they can do it with a quarterback to complement them.

The truth is their 2018 defense is gone. It's not coming back. 

It's a different defensive coordinator, different defensive position coaches and 80% of the starters from that secondary which helped produce 27 interceptions is gone.

Akiem Hicks of 2021 — at age 31 and 32 in November — will not be Pro Bowl Akiem Hicks of 2018. Eddie Goldman hasn't played since 2019. Leonard Floyd is gone and Robert Quinn replaced him by making two sacks last year. Danny Trevathan is in his 30s, had one of the worst seasons last year of any inside linebacker in the NFL, and is not getting younger.

Eddie Jackson wasn't the same player in 2019 and 2020 that he was in 2018 and 2017.

About the only thing the same is Khalil Mack, and he has been beat up a bit and ganged up on the last two years.

The Bears need this trade to bolster the offense so it can make up for the loss of their defense's fastball. They need to have a real impact quarterback who isn't a rookie, or 2021 is already a lost cause.

The Bears need this trade more than the Seahawks do. And this is where the real problem rests.

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