There is one team who still has the capital - and the need - to make a blockbuster move for Seahawks superstar quarterback Russell Wilson: the Jets. The tense Wilson-Seattle relationship appears to have relaxed somewhat, with both sides preparing to stick together for at least 2021. However, it’s worth remembering the peak tensions of the early offseason; I even wrote about how détente was necessary. While 'Seahawks Armageddon' was ultimately avoided, boy did we come close to the end of the world.
Under the guise of North Dakota State's pro day and with the attention on Trey Lance’s workout, John Schneider not-so-secretly met with Bears general manager Ryan Pace. In Fargo, the two discussed Wilson. Chicago offered a trio of first-round picks, one third-round pick, and two players for Wilson, per the Dan Patrick Show.
The players offered by the Bears were supposedly defensive tackle Akiem Hicks and cornerback Kyle Fuller. Fuller became a cap casualty shortly afterwards, while Hicks was granted permission to seek a trade, according to Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune. These names were generously termed ‘starters’ when talking about the Wilson package.
It was, per NFL Network's Ian Rapoport, Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll who blocked the deal. How much of this was the team managing the narrative to bend the truth towards Carroll being the ‘good cop’ remains debatable. Frankly, Chicago’s offer was not enough. The latest major draft trade highlighted this, with the 49ers dealing two additional first-round picks and a 2021 third-round pick just to move up from No. 12 overall to No. 3 overall.
What about the Jets, though? It is difficult to calculate what an elite franchise quarterback would command in a trade. In addition, Wilson has seemingly calmed down his public upset and returned back in line—naturally rising his price. Any package for the quarterback would have to be gargantuan.
Here's what the Jets have to offer from a pick standpoint:
- First round: No. 2, No. 23 (via Seahawks)
- Second round: No. 34
- Third round: No. 66, No. 86 (via Seahawks)
- Fourth round: No. 107
- Fifth round: No. 146, No. 154 (via Giants)
- Sixth round: No. 186, No. 226 (via Panthers)
- Two first-round selections (one via Seahawks)
- Two second-round selections (one via Panthers)
- Third-round selection
- Fourth-round selection (via Panthers)
- Two fifth-round selections (one via Steelers)
- Three sixth-round selections (one via Buccaneers, one via 49ers)
Moreover, including pick No. 2 in the 2021 NFL Draft would give the Seahawks an immediate shot at any rookie quarterback not named Trevor Lawrence. Whoever Seattle’s ‘guy’ is in draft meetings - whether that be Justin Fields, Zach Wilson, Trey Lance, Mac Jones - the Seahawks could have him.
In his latest mock, one which proposed deals for all 32 first-round picks, ESPN’s Bill Barnwell exercised this thinking. Barnwell sent picks No. 2 and No. 23, as well as the Jets’ 2022 first-rounder and No. 107 in this year's draft, in exchange for Wilson. In all, three first-round picks, including the coveted No. 2 overall chip. I actually think it would require even more ammunition than that, but the Jets carry those bullets.
So now that we've established that New York holds the necessary resources to pull off a deal, here’s the argument for the Wilson-Jets organizational fit.
The Jets were not one of the four immediately trade-palatable teams that Wilson’s agent shared with ESPN’s Adam Schefter, which included the Bears, Saints, Raiders, and Cowboys. Although Wilson’s move was bold, the list of teams felt lacking in genuine substance given each franchise’s situation.
One of the main themes to emerge from the offseason escapades was Wilson’s high legacy consciousness. The Jets have been trying to find their next great quarterback since Joe Namath and Wilson would instantly become that. New York’s media market and level of stardom in general is an aspect that Ciara, Wilson’s superstar wife, would surely appreciate too.
The news from earlier in the offseason was far more than the media requiring empty narratives for stories. There was real unhappiness from Wilson, leading to a public outspokenness and brashness, which the Seahawks seemed to receive poorly. The quarterback violated Carroll's golden rule of ‘protecting the team.’
It’s these factors combined which mean we can only fully exhale after the Jets have added a different quarterback, presumably the other Wilson—Zach.
Let’s not be irrational though: if a deal was going to happen between the Seahawks and the Jets, it surely would have by now. The giant nature of the move would require much negotiation and also result in dramatic draft planning for Seattle's front office. The NFL is not a fantastical Hollywood movie where we see a last-minute, draft-day trade of a leading quarterback.
However, we are still left with uncomfortable questions on the horizon. Why didn’t the Seahawks restructure Russell Wilson this offseason in a year with a reduced salary cap and few resources? Why does it look as though Seattle is keeping the possibility of a 2022 rebuild well and truly open? How are things between the Seahawks and Wilson?