Is Russell Wilson Sending Subtle Message to Seahawks' Front Office?
Coming off one of his finest seasons as an NFL quarterback while carrying the Seahawks to 11 wins and a playoff win, Russell Wilson has been more outspoken than years past with the media on a variety of issues this offseason.
Speaking with Mike Florio and Chris Simms of NBC Sports during Super Bowl week, Wilson expressed his desire for Seattle to run a more up-tempo, passing-oriented offense in 2020. Citing the success of Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs as the NFL's highest-powered offense, he sounded interested in utilizing a no huddle attack with greater frequency.
“We’ve always been really good in those end-of-the-half [situations]," Wilson commented. "Those not always hurry-up situations, but those up-tempo situations [and] moments. And the reality is this: I think the defense gets tired, first thing.”
But just one week earlier while preparing to play in his sixth Pro Bowl, Wilson made arguably an even bigger statement in an interview with ESPN, imploring Seahawks general manager John Schneider to add a few superstars this offseason.
“I think we need a couple more. Jadeveon is a big-time guy that we would love to get back on our football team. He was so good in the locker room. He brought so many just havoc plays to the field. Hopefully, we can get a few other players there on the defense. Then also on offense, we have a great offense, but I think we can always add more pieces."
Fast forwarding five months later, the Seahawks added some quality players in free agency, including veteran tight end Greg Olsen. But if Wilson hoped to have superstars added around him, the organization hasn't necessarily obliged to his request.
Nearly four months since free agency opened amid the first outbreak of the coronavirus, Clowney still hasn't signed with anyone and remains a free agent. Rumored potential trades for the Seahawks to acquire Jaguars defensive end Yannick Ngakoue or Ravens defensive end Matt Judon didn't materialize.
Offensively, aside from signing Olsen, Seattle shuffled its offensive line and could have up to four new starters protecting Wilson. On the outside, Phillip Dorsett was signed to a one-year deal and late draft picks were used on Freddie Swain and Stephen Sullivan.
Considering those moves, or the lack thereof in terms of bringing in a big name talent, it shouldn't come as a surprise Wilson sent the organization a statement by hosting free agent receiver Antonio Brown for a workout on his personal field last week.
Dating back to a report from ESPN 710 host John Clayton in May, Wilson has had interest in Seattle courting and potentially signing Brown for quite some time. The two have worked out together during the offseason in the past, so they already have a well-established relationship, and the team reportedly considered bringing him in last year before claiming Josh Gordon off waivers instead.
Those rumors only have heated up over the past couple of weeks. Before Brown could be seen executing a double move and hauling in a touchdown grab from Wilson on Instagram, NFL Network contributor Michael Silver reported the Seahawks have had "internal discussions" about pursuing the four-time First-Team All-Pro, even mentioning they could look to sign him later in the season if he's suspended as expected.
With a ban likely looming, there are obstacles aplenty that must be overcome before Brown can wear any NFL uniform next season, let alone playing for the Seahawks. He still has three potential violations of the league's Personal Conduct Policy under investigation - including his former trainer filing sexual assault charges against him - and recently plead no contest to burglary charges from an incident in January.
Those ongoing legal woes explain why Brown played in just one game last season before being jettisoned by New England and remaining unsigned the rest of the year. Aside from working out for New Orleans, nobody came close to considering signing him with the league expected to drop the hammer with a lengthy suspension.
But Wilson's interest in pairing Brown with Tyler Lockett and DK Metcalf appears to be genuine, and from a talent standpoint, it's easy to understand why he's lobbied the Seahawks to consider adding him. Despite his checkered past, few receivers in NFL history have been as dominant as the former sixth-round pick out of Central Michigan was over the past decade.
Starting in 2013, Brown produced six consecutive seasons with at least 100 receptions and 1,200 receiving yards, making the Pro Bowl each year and earning First-Team All-Pro honors four times. He also produced double digit receiving touchdowns in four of those seasons and led the league in receptions and receiving yards twice respectively.
From 2010 to 2019, even with playing in a single game last season, Brown ranked second in the NFL in receptions, receiving yards, and receiving touchdowns during that span. He's the only player in the top three in each of those categories.
As outlined previously, Brown's personality, baggage, and the three-ring circus that seems to follow him everywhere would present major risk for the Seahawks to take on. After the Steelers, Raiders, and Patriots all washed their hands clean of him in less than a calendar year, he could be down to his last strike as an NFL player and has proven to be a destructive in the locker room. There's a laundry list of reasons to avoid him.
But Seattle also hasn't been afraid to take on strong personalities in the past, and while Percy Harvin didn't work out, Marshawn Lynch and Michael Bennett starred as perennial Pro Bowlers for Super Bowl teams. Coach Pete Carroll has built a culture well-suited to embrace individuality and bring out the best in players both on and off the field.
After not reeling in a big fish for Wilson over the past few months, the franchise quarterback would love the chance to help Brown bounce back with the Seahawks. With just four weeks until camp begins and his request for a superstar still unfulfilled, last week's workout together could be the first of several nudges to Schneider and the front office aiming to make that connection a reality.