J.J. Watt made waves on Monday when he tweeted a picture of himself working out in an Arizona Cardinals shirt, thus breaking the news that the future first-ballot Hall of Famer is headed to the desert.
So before free agency even begins, we already have Watt joining forces with Chandler Jones in Arizona and Matthew Stafford linking up with Sean McVay in Los Angeles. This further cements the fact that the NFC West is the best division in the NFL, bar none. And it only adds to the pile of reasons why it's time for Seattle to go bold, why it's time for the reigning division champs to shock the NFL world ...
The Seahawks should trade Russell Wilson.
Now, I don't want to sound hypocritical. As regular consumers of my takeage know, I believe there are two types of teams in the NFL: those that have a quarterback and those that don't. Ever since pilfering Wilson in the third round out of Wisconsin back in 2012, the 'Hawks have comfortably sat in the "have" category. Russ is a future Hall of Famer. He's been brilliant. And if you don't believe me, ask him. Dan Patrick did just that last September, asking Wilson if he is the best quarterback in the NFL.
"I believe so," Wilson said with a smile, "without a doubt."
This remark came as the "Let Russ Cook" movement was reaching a fever pitch, something the quarterback clearly enjoyed, as evidenced by him trademarking the slogan. And hey, he did indeed cook over the first five weeks of last season.
Wilson, Weeks 1-5: 19:3 TD-to-INT ratio, 72.8 comp%, 8.9 ypa, 129.8 passer rating.
The Seahawks jumped out to their first 5-0 start in franchise history. All was well!
But after the Week 6 bye, everything came apart. Seattle went 7-5 the rest of the season, bailing out of the playoffs with a home wild-card loss to the Rams. As you'd figure, Russ' numbers went south, too.
Wilson, Weeks 7-18: 23:11 TD-to-INT ratio, 65.4 comp%, 6.9 ypa, 92.9 passer rating.
Consequently, Wilson went from being the MVP front-runner in September to not receiving a single vote at "NFL Honors," thus extending a drought that became a hot topic of conversation last year. Yes, Wilson has not received a single MVP vote in his entire career. No, this is not anywhere near as galling as many seem to think. It's a flawed conversation. I'm not just a host with great hair -- I'm also an Associated Press voter. I've never given Russ an MVP vote, because there's no list. In this voting process, it's one name, and one name only. I vehemently disagree with the system. I wish it were like the MLB or NBA, where you have a weighted point system. But that's the way it is. Russ knows this, and he's kind of joked about it in the past, saying he might get a vote "one day," but you know what they say about truth and jest ...
Russ did receive an award, though: He was named the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year. And rightfully so. Wilson has always provided generous charitable donations and given back to the community, but he took it to another level in 2020. In a trying year across the globe, Russ directed efforts toward feeding children, families and the elderly, donated $1 million to Feeding America and provided inspirational insight on various social issues.
A few days after receiving the award, though, Wilson strikingly began airing grievances. On The Dan Patrick Show, he voiced displeasure about not being more involved in personnel decisions. In a Zoom call with reporters, he said he was "frustrated with getting hit too much." And when asked about trade rumors, Wilson poured fuel on the fire: "I'm not sure if I'm available or not. That's a Seahawks question."
Calling out the front office and throwing his offensive line under the bus, Wilson seemingly has left the door open that he could indeed relocate. Why? Because Russ is cooked in Seattle. I think he believes his time is up, or at least will be in the near future. And look, he's won in Seattle. He's been an all-time Seahawk. He's earned the right to talk about his options. And if he wants out of Seattle, the Seahawks should grant his wish.
The Seahawks are not close to the Super Bowl. I know they won 12 games last year and finished atop the NFC West. I don't want to slight that effort from Pete Carroll, Wilson and Co. But there was a bit of a fluky quotient. I mean, just look at Seattle's three divisional foes. The 49ers were absolutely ravaged by the injury bug. The Rams had a double agent in Jared Goff, throwing footballs to the wrong team. And the upstart Cardinals were short-circuited by a season-ending injury to Chandler Jones and various ailments for Kyler Murray. All three teams will be better this year. Meanwhile, the 'Hawks have a number of key players set to hit free agency, including RB Chris Carson, LB K.J. Wright and CBs Shaquill Griffin and Quinton Dunbar. Oh, and they don't have a first-round draft pick this year or next, thanks to the Jamal Adams deal.
Trading a disgruntled Wilson now could instantly replenish the draft coffers with numerous first-round picks. Sure, if the deal were made before June 1, the dead cap number would be an astronomical $39 million. That number is why many astute bloviators and ink-stained journalists argue to wait until 2022. And Seattle might. But you can make the case that the NFL's most outstanding GM/coach combo, John Schneider and Pete Carroll, knows the time to strike is now. The return would be off the charts. And given Wilson's recent public comments, as well as The Athletic's eye-opening report of discord between Wilson and the Seahawks, it's hard to imagine everything just blowing over and being hunky-dory by September.
The Wilson-Carroll relationship has fed the rumor mill for years. I've never viewed Russ as a player who would spend his entire career in the Pacific Northwest. Contract negotiations between Wilson and the team have never been ultra-smooth. Wilson's name has surfaced in prior years via trade rumors to the Giants and Browns. "The Legion of Boom" got more credit for the Super Bowl seasons -- and in my opinion, deservedly so.
But Russ clearly wants to be The Guy. And that's fine, but it just doesn't seem like that's Seattle. Which is why, when Wilson's agent goes on the record with ESPN's Adam Schefter to reveal which teams could motivate his client to waive his no-trade clause, the preferred destinations make a ton of sense to me: Chicago, Dallas, Las Vegas and New Orleans. Do you see a common theme there? I do. In my opinion, it's Russ. Russ being The Guy, Russ reaping the benefits, for a variety of reasons.
It's not really about the offensive scheme or pass protection. Otherwise, Chicago wouldn't make the list. But if Wilson were traded to the Bears, he'd instantly become the best quarterback in franchise history. And if he carries Chicago to the Super Bowl, which he is very capable of doing, he takes his name and game to a different level. Chicago is an amazing all-around sports town. But even the 1998 Bulls and 2016 Cubs will tell you that it's a Bears town, first and foremost. General manager Ryan Pace is on the hot seat. He picked Mitchell Trubisky over Patrick Mahomes and Deshaun Watson, after all -- he's lucky to still be on any seat. If he finds a way to get Wilson, he's a hero.
The Cowboys are America's Team. They ooze offensive weapons and currently don't have their starting quarterback under contract. Not to mention, being the starting quarterback in Dallas is a pretty heady gig. Dandy Don. Staubach. Aikman. Romo. Dak ... Russ? Mr. Unlimited turns around the Cowboys?! Wow, think about it.
Meanwhile, Raiders coach Jon Gruden is likely on a Wilson bender right now. He probably hasn't slept since the latest round of rumors began. The Raiders need defense, defense and more defense. But often times, I think I like Derek Carr more than Gruden. Carr, two first-rounders and a 2021 second? Sounds pretty nice to me. And for Russ, it's Raider Nation! It's Vegas, baby! Vegas!!
Wilson and Sean Payton would make sweet music together -- and they could each get a second ring out of it. Payton is probably rubbing his hands together and licking his lips just salivating over the possibility. And how about the divisional bouts between Wilson's Saints and Tom Brady's Buccaneers? Juicy!
The Seahawks are a team in transition in a brutally tough division that could swallow them whole. The Watt and Stafford moves simply hammered this home. Heck, the superbly coached Niners are the most talented overall team in the quartet. Amazingly, Wilson has never missed a start. But you have to believe the 32-year-old will begin to show some wear and tear at some point soon. From 2010 through 2020, no quarterback took more sacks than Wilson's 394. Pretty amazing when you consider Russ didn't even enter the league until 2012. Also pretty scary if you're the team that employs him, and you aren't equipped to truly contend at the moment.
I firmly believe Russ is gone. It's either this offseason or next. Why wait and delay the inevitable?
Now is the time to strike, Seahawks. Get picks. Flip one or two for your next quarterback via the draft. It's time to let Russ cook elsewhere. Flip the script and make a self-serving move for your team, Pete Carroll and John Schneider. Because Russ is messing with your brew.