RENTON, WA - Throughout the offseason, stemming from comments made by the star franchise quarterback as well as a list of four potential trade destinations released by his agent, trade winds have swirled around Russell Wilson and the Seahawks.
But from coach Pete Carroll's perspective, he understood Wilson's frustrations after being ousted in the wild card round in January. Attempting to squash the trade rumors once and for all, he indicated dealing Wilson was not only never on the table, but he plans for the signal caller to be under center for years to come.
“Russ has been our quarterback for a good while,” Carroll said speaking with reporters on Wednesday. “We’ve got a long contract with him. And when all of the conversation went about trades and all that — I knew what the truth was: We weren’t trading Russell. So we plan on him being here for a good while. I don’t know how many years it is now, but we’re in great shape and a long future ahead of us is shared. Russ knows that. I know that. We’re very clear about it."
Wilson initially aired his grievances in a pair of interviews shortly after the Super Bowl, telling reporters he was "tired of getting hit" after leading the NFL in sacks since his rookie season in 2012. These remarks sparked renewed rumors that the seven-time Pro Bowler wanted out of Seattle and such headlines only became more prevalent after agent Mark Rodgers told ESPN reporter Adam Schefter his client would be willing to waive his no trade clause to play for Chicago, Las Vegas, Dallas, or New Orleans.
Wilson also pointed out that he would like to have more involvement in personnel decisions, though according to Carroll, the quarterback never spoke with him about expanding his involvement in that regard.
"He never made any statement that he had to have more say, so that never happened. None of that happened," Carroll commented.
At one point, reports surfaced that Seahawks general manager John Schneider met with Bears general manager Ryan Pace at North Dakota State's pro day and considered a trade offer for Wilson, only for Carroll to shoot down the proposal. Per the report, Chicago offered three first-round picks as well as two unnamed starters.
When asked about the report on Wednesday, Schneider confirmed several teams called after the "media blitz" inquiring about Wilson's availability, but he "never actively negotiated with anybody" in regard to dealing his franchise quarterback.
Based on Carroll and Schneider's comments, both saw the trade speculation revolving around Wilson as primarily media-driven. Aiming to avoid further issues, neither felt it was necessary to release any public statements refuting these rumors and instead resolved things internally with frequent conversations between Wilson and Carroll, who reiterated multiple times any perceived problems were no problem at all.
"That’s why it was really obvious that we just had to sit back and kind of let the media take its course with the topic," Carroll added. "So we did. So we’re in good shape and both very clear about that.”
As the press conference unfolded, it became clear Carroll was irked by Rodgers' decision to provide four teams to Schefter, believing it brought harm to all parties. He felt without that, the trade chatter would have dissipated quickly.
But once the report went public and provided more ammunition for the media, Carroll went into action behind the scenes hashing things out with the quarterback hoping to put out the fire.
"I had made a clear statement to Russ, 'let's just shutdown and be quiet on this stuff. We don't need to say anything. We know the truth of what's going on.' When that came out [Rodgers' comment], that got a little over the top and it opened up some other conversations that didn't need to happen and that's an example of why we're quiet and why we don't say anything," Carroll explained. "It was so meaningless cause it had nothing to do with what was going on. It just gave another little bite that people could talk about and I wish we would have avoided that. That's what I'm saying."
For now, the situation appears to have cooled off and Carroll went out of his way to discuss a number of the moves that have been made so far in efforts to continue building the roster around Wilson heading into the 2021 season.
Tactfully, Carroll made sure to reference how the Seahawks have addressed their offensive line in regard to protecting Wilson, including dealing a fifth-round pick to the Raiders for guard Gabe Jackson and re-signing center Ethan Pocic.
"That was a really great acquisition for us to bring his experience, his toughness, and his leadership into the offensive line," Carroll said in regard to Jackson's arrival. "Getting Ethan back too - we didn't know if we were going to get him back - to come back to center were he gets his second year to come back and compete to be the number one center. We're excited about that."
Carroll also spent extensive time explaining how important re-signing running back Chris Carson was for Seattle's offense. With the salary cap dropping to $182.5 million league-wide and the team dealing with a tight cap crunch as it was, his chances of coming back seemed slim to none as one of the top players at his position group hitting the free agent market.
But despite offers from other teams, the hard-nosed Carson was actively recruited back to the Pacific Northwest by Wilson, a sign the quarterback remained all-in with the only team he has ever played for. He eventually agreed to a new two-year deal, locking him up as the Seahawks workhorse back through 2022 and bringing balance to the offensive attack.
"To get Chris back is such an important factor cause we love his style of play. We all have seen how great of a football player he is, but this was a time we might not have been able to get it done," Carroll commented. "But again, tremendous faith in the program on Chris' part and also the ability of John [Schneider] and Matt [Thomas] to get it done. That's a big deal."
As Carroll and Schneider both stated on numerous occasions on Wednesday, there's still plenty of work left to do. The draft will take place this weekend and another wave of free agency should take place once the dust settles after seven rounds in Cleveland, providing ample opportunities to continue improving the roster and adding depth.
To this point, Wilson seems pleased with the additions made based on his social media reactions and per Carroll, he's hard at work learning coordinator Shane Waldron's new offense. In regard to his future, Schneider and Carroll said all of the right things, but time will tell whether or not the good feelings will last and if this marks the end of trade talk or they will crop up again down the road.