The rift between quarterback Russell Wilson and Seahawks upper management continues to grow as reports flood social media timelines each day with new information leaking out from both camps. The more Wilson publicly applies pressure to Seattle to build around him this offseason, the more trade rumors and fantasy-style proposals you’ll see. But the 32-year old Super Bowl champion isn’t getting dealt—not this year, at least.
So who will serve as his backup this fall? Frankly, probably no one that’ll garner attention outside of the day they’re acquired, as it should be when you have a star quarterback on your roster. The Seahawks don’t have the draft capital to do what the Packers did last year with Jordan Love; they’re not going to find their next long-term passer in 2021 even if they’re on a fast-track to a breakup with Wilson as many in the media claim. That is, of course, unless they trade him this year which, again, isn’t happening.
Basically, any sort of move that could be taken by Wilson as a “statement” from the front office just isn’t plausible. Whoever backs him up will be more or less a necessity than a luxury, as has been the case for the majority of the Wilson era. Let’s take a look at the options.
Bring back Geno Smith for a third consecutive season
Smith seems to have a good relationship with Wilson and Seattle’s coaching staff. He’s unlikely to win many games - if any - in the event Wilson were to go down for an extended period of time, but he gives the Seahawks a better chance than most affordable veteran quarterbacks on the open market.
Smith took some snaps in the team’s 40-3 blowout victory over the Jets this past season. He completed four of five passes for 33 yards.
Raise the ceiling with someone like Tyrod Taylor
Taylor may be more inclined to go somewhere he has a chance to start, but the idea here is to basically maintain a level of competitiveness if Wilson - who’s started every game in his nine-year career thus far - were to miss time. Perhaps Cam Newton could also be an option if he isn’t presented any starting opportunities, but keep in mind the Seahawks have roughly spent a combined $3.9 million on their backup quarterbacks the past five seasons.
Do the right thing and give Colin Kaepernick a job
This isn’t going to happen, but it should. The Seahawks had the opportunity to sign Kaepernick back in 2017, but didn’t after head coach Pete Carroll offered the lame excuse that the blackballed quarterback was a “starter in this league.” Nearly four years later, Kaepernick still hasn’t put on an NFL uniform again and the Seahawks - despite Carroll’s proclaimed “regrets” about not signing him back then - haven’t been aggressive in making a move since.
I doubt he has any interest in returning to a league whose racism has been put on full display with its handling of his situation, so this may all be moot. And the further he gets away from his last appearance on the field, the less likely it becomes he can be an effective quarterback in a potential return—especially when he struggled mightily towards the end of his career in San Francisco. But he more than deserves an offer to come back and the Seahawks should be the one to give it to him.
Draft a quarterback in the mid-to-late rounds this April
As previously mentioned, the Seahawks aren’t in a position to pull off any sort of controversial quarterback selection in April’s draft. The first of their four picks doesn’t come until the second round at No. 56 overall, which they’ll likely trade out of to add more capital to their arsenal.
They’ve only drafted one quarterback since Wilson: Alex McGough, a seventh-round selection in 2018. It might be time to do so again, but only if they’re able to acquire enough picks to justify such a move when they have more pressing needs elsewhere.
Let Alex McGough and Danny Etling battle it out
If the Seahawks don’t want to worry about addressing the backup spot at all this offseason, they did sign two quarterbacks to future contracts last month: the aforementioned McGough and Danny Etling, who spent the entire 2020 season on the team’s practice squad.
Of the two, McGough is the likeliest to challenge for the role and has been a fan-favorite in the Seahawks social media realm for a while now.
No matter what they do, Seattle simply doesn’t have the means to fight fire with fire when it comes to Wilson, nor do I think they want to. So don’t expect them to drop any bombs, at least through this route, and burn the bridge between them and their disgruntled superstar.