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Russell Wilson's Best Chance to Win Remains With Seahawks

While a change of scenery may intrigue Wilson, assuming he's explored his options thoroughly, he won't find a better situation to pursue championships in the present than in Seattle.

Looking down from Roger Goodell's suite at Raymond James Stadium during Super Bowl LV, Russell Wilson's frustration was evident. As his wife Ciara engaged in conversation with the commissioner, the Seahawks star quarterback sat between them looking genuinely disinterested in being there when seen on the telecast.

Below on the field, Tom Brady - the same man who had dethroned Wilson and his team in Super Bowl XLIX years earlier - was in the midst of orchestrating arguably the greatest accomplishment of his G.O.A.T. career leading the Buccaneers to a Lombardi Trophy in his first year with the franchise. Watching his nemesis win his record-setting seventh title in real time with a roster he played a key role in constructing, Wilson began to contemplate what it would be like if he had the same opportunity.

Keeping this in mind, Wilson's comments as a guest on the Dan Patrick Show just two days after witnessing Brady capture another Lombardi Trophy shouldn't have surprised anyone. Among many grievances he aired in the interview, citing how Tampa Bay shaped its roster after signing Brady and allowing him to have significant input in such decisions, he indicated he didn't have as much of a voice in personnel decisions as he would prefer in Seattle.

“It think it helps to be involved more. I think that dialogue should happen more often,” Wilson said at the time.

Thanks to those remarks along with additional commentary expressing his displeasure with pass protection in front of him, trade rumors surrounded Wilson throughout free agency up until the draft. His agent Mark Rodgers further fanned the flames by providing four teams to ESPN insider Adam Schefter that his client would be willing to waive his no-trade clause to play for.

Ultimately, though reports surfaced suggesting Seahawks general manager John Schneider and then-Bears general manager Ryan Pace had extensive discussions about a blockbuster trade, Wilson remained with the only team he has ever played for. Arriving at OTAs in June, he worked swiftly to repair whatever damage had been done, saying everyone within the organization was "on the same page."

"I think after Russell made a couple of those comments, I think it was an opportunity for a lot of people to run with it," linebacker Bobby Wagner told USA Today Sports of the Wilson trade speculation weeks before the start of training camp. "I definitely feel like it was a little overblown, but it's all water under the bridge now."

Unfortunately, even with Wilson back under center after a drama-filled offseason, nothing went according to plan for the Seahawks in 2021. Coming off a 12-win season in which they won the NFC West and earned a home playoff game, injuries coupled with inconsistent play on both sides of the football led to a disastrous 7-10 finish, the team's worst record since 2009.

At the center of Seattle's struggles, Wilson endured the most tumultuous season of his career. After getting off to a promising start in new offensive coordinator Shane Waldron's scheme, he suffered a torn tendon in his right middle finger during a Week 5 loss to the Los Angeles Rams and underwent surgery the next day. Sidelined for the first time due to injury, Geno Smith replaced him for the next three games and the sat in last place with a 3-5 record heading into a Week 9 bye.

Making a miraculous recovery from an injury expected to sideline him for as many as eight weeks, Wilson returned to start against the Packers in Week 10. But the eight-time Pro Bowler clearly wasn't close to 100 percent and struggled mightily in his first three games back as the Seahawks lost all three games to fall to 3-8 on the season, nearly putting their playoff chances on ice before the calendar flipped to December.

With Seattle officially eliminated in Week 16, speculation about Wilson's NFL future has once again surfaced as one of the biggest storylines heading into a new offseason. While the player himself told reporters earlier this month he hoped to win at least three more Super Bowls and achieve the goal with the Seahawks, he hasn't necessarily made any definitive statements about staying put and a recent report suggested he wants to "explore his options" to see what else might be out there for him.

Nearly a year after his infamous interview with Patrick, such reports suggest Wilson may still desire the chance to do what Brady did in Tampa Bay, starting from scratch with a new organization he feels will be better equipped to build around him in pursuit of a championship and will grant him greater input in those roster-related decisions. 

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But does that opportunity actually exist? At least for now, the answer would be no.

Consider the teams Rodgers revealed as suitable landing spots for Wilson last April. The Cowboys have Dak Prescott and don't need a quarterback. The Raiders just made the postseason with David Carr and seem content moving forward with him as the starting quarterback. The Bears won just six games last year and aren't close to fielding a championship roster, while the Saints just lost coach Sean Payton, which likely was the greatest draw for Wilson with the idea of following in Drew Brees' footsteps.

As for other teams that have been speculated as landing spots in various reports, the Broncos may have the best situation with a top-five defense, several quality receivers, and a pair of good running backs. But they would have to give up multiple first round picks and good young players such as tight end Noah Fant to orchestrate a deal, minimizing resources general manager George Paton would have to further build around his new quarterback.

If the Giants remain in play, Wilson would need to be prepared to join a team that hasn't come close to sniffing the playoffs since 2016. While they have some talented players on the roster, like the Bears, that does not look like a ready-made contender that is only an elite quarterback away from competing for Super Bowls.

A few other teams that haven't been linked to Wilson who could have interest in making a run at him such as the Eagles, Jets, and Washington Football Team would fall under the same umbrella to varying degrees. Philadelphia made the playoffs this season but still has significant holes on the roster, while New York and Washington appear to be multiple pieces away from contending.

As for teams such as the Steelers and Titans who have championship-caliber rosters away from quarterback, they don't have the draft capital or desirable assets to offer the Seahawks for Schneider to even consider a trade.

The fact is, with Wilson still having two years left on the five-year, $140 million extension signed back in 2019, he doesn't have anywhere near the leverage Brady did when he made the decision to relocate to south Florida. He's not a free agent, thus making it impossible for him to replicate the process his signal calling counterpart achieved in Tampa Bay. Anywhere he goes, the team will have to give up valuable assets simply to acquire him.

If Wilson desires to win championships and enhance his legacy, Seattle remains the best spot for him to do so in the present. He already has two elite receivers in DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett at his disposal and while the roster has holes, the team currently is slated to have north of $40 million in available cap room heading into free agency to help address those deficiencies. With a few other moves, they could have upwards of $60 million available to build a Super Bowl-worthy roster.

Of course, Schneider has to take advantage of such flexibility, something he hasn't been able to do in recent years when the Seahawks had the money available to make a splash or two in free agency. Therein lies one of the reasons why Wilson may be trying to not-so-subtlety orchestrate his departure behind the scenes.

Showing they've learned from past mistakes, the front office could help shore up the relationship with their disgruntled quarterback by changing how they do business and investing in game-changing stars rather than a boatload of mid-level veterans. On top of that, while they don't want to give Wilson co-general manager status, letting him have more of a say on who they sign would be another good starting point.

Will Schneider and his cohorts actually do that? That remains to be seen. If they don't, then Wilson absolutely would have every reason to up the ante forcing his way out of town next year and there could be far better alternatives for him to choose from.

Nonetheless, the Seahawks have the ability to make such moves to build around Wilson, and they can do so without coughing up a bunch of first round picks and other assets that other suitors would be required to surrender to trade for him. Only two years removed from a 12-win season, they remain the best option for him to win big in the short term and it would be in the respective best interests of both the player and the team to run it back at least one more season pursuing a Super Bowl title.