Worst-Kept Secret: The Broncos Are Cutting Russell Wilson

There’s no doubt about it: the Seahawks won the Russell Wilson trade with the Broncos. If you ONLY count the players involved, we’re talking about the two worst seasons in Wilson’s career, and a 4th round defensive lineman who underwhelmed as a rookie and was suspended for gambling in year two. That was the haul for Denver.

The Seahawks, meanwhile, got something of a mixed bag in return, but still unquestionably the better of the situation.

On the plus side, we got to draft Devon Witherspoon, who looks like a potential star in this league. We also got a starting left tackle in Charles Cross, and a likely starting outside linebacker in Boye Mafe. Mafe had 3 sacks as a rookie, and made the leap to 9 sacks in year two, looking like a very promising pass rusher.

In the middle, we got two very competent seasons out of tight end Noah Fant and we had a somewhat capable backup quarterback in Drew Lock. Both are free agents at the moment, so we’ll see if the team opts to bring either of them back.

On the down side, we got one so-so season out of Shelby Harris before cutting him (this was a season where our run defense was extremely poor), we have sort of a wild card in outside linebacker Derick Hall (who didn’t seem to develop like people had hoped as his rookie season wore on), and we drafted Tyreke Smith in the 5th round in 2022 (who spent his entire rookie seaon injured, and his entire second season on the practice squad before being claimed by the Cardinals in December).

Like I said: a bit of a mixed bag. But, the three “hits” obviously outweigh all the misses down below, and you’re not going to be 100% on moves like this. Frankly, this outcome is probably as good as we could’ve hoped for.

Where the almighty bullet was dodged, however, is avoiding the long-term ramifications of choosing Russell Wilson over Pete Carroll and/or John Schneider.

As always, it’s not totally black and white. Obviously, Pete Carroll isn’t here anymore after two 9-win seasons sans Wilson. BUT, also obviously, the Seahawks don’t have to reckon with a 5-year, $242.6 million contract that is just kicking in THIS YEAR, which boggles the mind. In 2023, Wilson’s Seahawks contract just ran out, which is absurd to think about. A guy who was so highly coveted, couldn’t even make it to Year One of his new deal.

That’s $85 million in dead money, spread out over 2024 and 2025. The Broncos had a brand new regime in 2022, then fired everyone for Sean Payton in 2023. Presumably, Payton will have something of a longer leash to try to turn things around, but it seems like the next two years are going to be a challenge. It’s hard to really try to bottom out and still keep your job, but also that’s probably what’s necessary (trade players for draft picks, go with a super youth movement, then try to bounce back in 2026 in free agency).

Can you imagine what the Seahawks would be doing right now, with that kind of Russell Wilson contract on the books? For starters, I don’t know if we’d be talking about cutting him and eating that kind of dead money. It’s interesting to imagine where this team would be – and what we might’ve accomplished the last two years – with Wilson still in the fold. Considering our shabby draft positioning thanks to the Jamal Adams trade, I have to believe we would’ve been considerably worse the last two years!

Now, the questions are: where will Russell Wilson end up next, and will he be able to resuscitate his career?

There are plenty of dimwits who wonder if the Seahawks might bring him back. He is, after all, poised to earn the veteran minimum (thanks to offsets built into his Broncos deal; any new money paid to him only helps his former team). But, why would the Seahawks put themselves through that? Geno Smith hasn’t been a world-beater the last two years, but he’s still been better than Russell Wilson. And I’m sure that Wilson would prefer to go somewhere with a more-established offensive identity (rather than the Seahawks, who are breaking in a lot of young/first-time NFL coaches).

I would find it extremely curious what the Vikings end up doing, particularly if Kirk Cousins moves on to Atlanta or wherever. The Vikings have two terrific wide receivers who can go get deep balls, and a top-tier offensive line that should be able to accommodate Wilson’s lack of mobility. Paying a guy like Wilson the minimum might help them offset the cost of extending Justin Jefferson for what is sure to be the highest wide receiver contract in NFL history.

Regardless of where Wilson ends up, it’s fascinating to see how the narrative has shifted. In the beginning of his Seahawks tenure, he was just a game manager behind an elite run game and defense. As time went on, and he used his magic to pull our asses out of more and more fires, Wilson was properly rated as among the best quarterbacks in the game. Then, as the Seahawks stagnated later in his tenure here, it was the coaching staff and offensive scheme that was holding him back, until he finally forced his way out. Then, in his first year in Denver, Wilson’s struggles were chocked up to Nathaniel Hackett and his poor performance as the head coach. When even the great Sean Payton couldn’t change Wilson’s fortunes, it was time for everyone to admit that maybe Wilson was cooked, and the Seahawks were never to blame for his inability to get over the hump into a proper MVP conversation.

But, does anyone really have to be to blame?

Wilson’s last truly great year was in 2020. But, even then, you could see the writing on the wall. That Seahawks team ended up winning the NFC West, which was nothing new for Russell Wilson in his time here. But, in the L.O.B. days, Wilson was the perfect complement for an elite defense. In the immediate post-L.O.B. days, Wilson ended up compensating for a lot of holes elsewhere on the roster. But, by 2020, those holes weren’t quite as dramatic. And, Wilson was actually starting to be more of the problem than the solution. He threw 8 of his 13 interceptions in our four regular season losses (13 INTs being the most for him in any one season), and added one more for good measure in our playoff loss at home to the Rams. He mopped the floor with the league through five games, then suffered a massive mid-season lull (costing us 3 of 4) before having the reins pulled back by season’s end. The home playoff defeat should have been his final go in Seattle, but we stuck with him for one more year before pulling the trigger with the Broncos.

This is what happens. Quarterbacks age, and eventually they play themselves out of the league. As it turns out, given Wilson’s limitations, he probably was never destined to play into his 40’s like he’d hoped. I’m not ready to say his time has come to an end in the NFL, because I’d like to see what he’s still capable of with a competent coaching staff who actually WANTS him on their team. I think he’s still accurate enough – and has a strong-enough arm – to bounce back and be a productive mid-tier QB. But, an MVP is out of the question, and I’m guessing so is another Super Bowl appearance.

Other than the Vikings, I wonder what he’d look like in a Browns uniform. Could he also compete for a job with the Giants? And what if the Falcons pass on Cousins? There’s a lot of talent down in ATL, that’s going to make some veteran quarterback’s job pretty easy.

I feel like his worst-case scenario is going to Tennessee or Vegas. The Titans are truly bottom-of-the-barrel talent-wise, and the Raiders seem fairly unstable at the moment (I don’t know if I believe they’re going to commit to their erstwhile interim head coach longterm). After that, it’s probably settling for any number of backup jobs.

As for my personal feelings on the matter, I think I’m coming around again. When he was with Denver, I was all too happy to root against him. I wasn’t thrilled with the way things ended in Seattle, and his personality quirks started to rub me the wrong way. But, now that he’s a free agent, I’m still happy to laugh at the Broncos’ misfortunes, but I’m also starting to feel sorry for Russ. For all his faults, he’s still a good-enough guy, and he did play during our greatest era of Seahawks football. There are still so many wonderful memories with him behind center.

I’m rooting for the Russell Wilson comeback! It won’t be in Seattle, but that’s okay. He can’t hurt us anymore.

The Seahawks Are Lucky To Be Rid Of Russell Wilson

I occasionally return to writing about Russell Wilson, because he’s a truly fascinating figure in Seattle sports history. “How the mighty have fallen” is something that comes immediately to mind.

There was an article released by The Athletic today outlining his miserable first year in Denver. It also touched on the impetus for him being traded to the Broncos in the first place: he allegedly went to Seahawks ownership and called for them to fire Pete Carroll and John Schneider. Wilson has since denied those claims on Twitter – an intriguing move, to be sure, since I don’t know him to be so reactionary when negative news about him is released – but the Seahawks have stuck to their usual stance of not commenting whatsoever.

I don’t think anyone is really inclined to believe anything that Russell Wilson says at this point. There was another bombshell recently released that got into Wilson’s charitable foundation, and how they may or may not be spending their money. Turns out extravagantly wealthy people aren’t always all that inclined to give away their money, and that they may inflate what they’ve purported to donate. The sad thing is that he’s just like any other multi-millionaire in the world.

While he might not have gone directly to Jody Allen (or whoever’s running the show with the Seahawks), I would venture to guess probably his agent passed along both of their wishes. It’s particularly believable given the additional nugget of information released by The Athletic: that Wilson’s preferred head coaching replacement for Pete Carroll was Sean Payton. We all know Wilson’s affinity for Drew Brees, and the fact that the Saints were on his previous list of teams he’d be willing to be traded to (back when Payton was still their coach).

There’s an alternate universe where Russell Wilson spends his entire career with the Seahawks. It’s fascinating to contemplate what would’ve happened if the organization sided with the player over the coach and general manager. What kind of dystopian hellscape would THAT look like?

For starters, we wouldn’t have had Denver’s draft picks last year. No Charles Cross at left tackle. Who takes that spot? Your guess is as good as mine. Maybe we would’ve re-signed Duane Brown for one more year. We wouldn’t have had Boye Mafe either (he didn’t do a ton as a rookie), and there’s a legitimate question as to whether or not we would’ve used our other second round pick on Kenneth Walker. I mean, really, without John Schneider running the draft, it’s highly unlikely we’d have ANY of the guys we got. We’re talking an entirely different, unknown crop of rookies and free agent moves, all likely catering to Wilson’s whims.

Also, I would strongly doubt the Seahawks could’ve managed to hire Sean Payton in this kind of situation. Why would he want to come here? As we’ve seen the last two years, he clearly had his pick of the litter when it came to head coaching jobs. Why would he put himself into a situation where he’d have to be subservient to his quarterback? It’s also a situation that has him living in Seattle (probably not his ideal destination), working for an organization that might be going through an ownership change as soon as 2024. That sounds like a headache I’m sure he would’ve rather avoided.

But, if you believe Wilson had that kind of pull this time last year – that he could convince Payton to come here – then I suppose you can look at the 2023 Broncos as sort of a barometer or the kind of success we might’ve enjoyed in 2022. Except, the 2023 Broncos have a drastically superior roster of talent outside of the quarterback spot, compared to what the Seahawks had last season.

I’m trying to imagine what the Seahawks would’ve looked like this past year, with Wilson behind the center, running Payton’s offense with our guys (minus Kenneth Walker, of course), saddled with that defense (that surely would’ve performed worse than they actually did, thanks to the loss of Carroll’s guiding influence). It seems like it would’ve been an absolute nightmare, made all the worse by the fact that WE would be the ones overpaying for Wilson’s diminishing services for the next however many years.

Now, if you take Sean Payton out of that equation, and saddle us with a Nathaniel Hackett (or whoever we could’ve managed to convince to coach here), I think we’re talking about a team that’s even WORSE than what the 2022 Broncos actually were.

I believe that Russell Wilson believes that Pete Carroll and John Schneider were holding him back in his quest to win MVPs and Super Bowls. I also can’t entirely dismiss that line of thinking. It’s easy to sit here and dunk on Wilson. Age is catching up to him, his size limits his ability to throw over the intermediate middle, and hubris is preventing him from ceding control or reining in his preferred style of play (meaning he no longer runs with the football, and opts to take deep shots over checkdowns that might actually net more yards). So, I fully understand the instinct to call Wilson crazy. The only person holding Russell Wilson back is Russell Wilson.

But, I can’t just unsee what he did in the second half of 2015.

It’s the outlier to end all outliers. In the final seven games of the regular season, the Seahawks went 6-1. In those six victories, Wilson’s lowest passer rating was 123.7 (his average rating over that span was 132.8). He had a 71% completion percentage. He threw for 1,906 yards, with an absolutely RIDICULOUS 24:1 touchdown to interception ratio. It’s literally the best stretch of football I’ve ever seen by a quarterback, and it was unlike literally any other season he’s played in the NFL. He threw from the pocket, he threw with precision, on time, to all areas of the field (including the intermediate middle). I can’t even fathom how brilliant and efficient the Seahawks’ offense was, at a time when our rushing attack wasn’t there to prop us up. It was all on the arm of Russell Wilson. And, I’m afraid it’s warped everyone’s thinking – including his own – ever since.

The sad part is the fact that he reverted right back to his usual style of play when we hit the playoffs that season (the last of our L.O.B. Championship Window). It really seemed like we’d turned a page, and the offense was ready to ascend that year. Instead, we barely got by the Vikings in the wild card round, before taking a HUGE shit early deficit in the first half of the divisional round against Carolina, before our furious comeback fell seven points short in the end.

From then on, though, it felt like there was no limit to Wilson’s abilities. Sure, he had the running, and he had the play-action deep balls, but now he had this precision timing offense down. THAT was supposed to be the key to how he’d age gracefully in this league. And when we never saw him do it again, we all assumed it was because Pete Carroll was holding back the offense. And/or because John Schneider wasn’t giving Wilson the guys he needed around him to make it work.

Part of that is true. Carroll did rein in the offense. Except, it was only AFTER Wilson made too many horrendous throws and turned the ball over an uncharacteristic amount. And, of course, how can we forget all the times John Schneider did, in fact, sign free agents that were Wilson-approved? The Greg Olsen tenure here is a boil on my ass that will never go away.

This takes us back to Russell Wilson being the only person holding Russell Wilson back. But, he still did what he did in that 2015 season. And it’s fair to wonder what his career might’ve looked like if he’d had Sean Payton’s offense from the get go.

It’s also fair to wonder if it’s too little, too late. He’ll be 35 years old in November. And he’s clearly not aging the way Tom Brady aged into his 35th year.

I’m just glad he’s not our problem anymore.

The Seahawks Won Their Super Bowl, Defeating Russell Wilson On Monday Night

It’s probably never going to be better than it was last night, for the rest of the season. Relish it. At some point, I’m going to write a post titled, “R.I.P. Fun Seahawks”, because I think we’re going to see a lot of ugly football this year. But, what we got last night was something akin to a final hurrah for the Fun Seahawks. Those Seahawks who – as Kevin Clark astutely pointed out – have literally never played in a normal game.

It’s a very first world problem, but a definite complaint I’ve heard about all of those Russell Wilson Seahawks teams is that they never let you relax. They’re always nerve-wracking and tense, down to the bitter end, win or lose. This game was THAT times a thousand. Of course, we usually prevailed in those games, so ultimately they were a source of joy and relief, and last night was no different. It really did feel like a continuation of all the fun, but I fear it’s going to soon come to an end.

The Seahawks were as up for this game against Russell Wilson’s Broncos as I’ve ever seen a team up for anything. You could argue the Broncos were up too, but they were a little TOO up, resulting in way too many dumb penalties and mistakes. Whereas the Seahawks were shockingly calm and composed, while still looking pretty electric at times.

The first half Seahawks were a revelation. The over/under on Seahawks points in the entire game was 18.5, and they very nearly surpassed that in the first two quarters (really, they should have, but Geno missed a wide open Travis Homer near the goalline that would’ve been a walk-in touchdown). It was truly impressive! We marched right down the field on the opening drive for a TD, we took it inside the Denver 10 yard line on the next drive before being stuffed on a QB sneak, then we went field goal and touchdown to wrap up our first half. Against that defense? It was phenomenal!

But, then you got a good, long look at the Bad Seahawks in the second half. No offense whatsoever. No points whatsoever. Fumble, punt, punt. That’s it.

Now, you can argue that’s a little bit by design. That if these Seahawks are going to do anything, it’s going to be on the back of the defense getting timely stops. But, I don’t know how sustainable this type of game was, even though we looked absolutely dominant around the goalline.

The Broncos never had trouble moving the ball. They ran it well, they gave Wilson lots of time to throw, and they even worked in a few deep shots against a defense that is absolutely never supposed to give up deep shots. Our rookie cornerbacks played like rookie cornerbacks. Our pass rush played okay, but was far from dominant. There were lots of open receivers underneath and in the short-intermediate, and to his credit, Russell Wilson was playing the exact type of game he should have. It was a patient, calculated night where he took what the defense gave him. He’s gotten so much grief in recent seasons for constantly trying to chase the deep ball, but other than a couple of INT drops by Jamal Adams and Quandre Diggs, there really weren’t a lot of mistakes on Wilson’s part (at least, to my untrained eye).

But, when it mattered most – in the second half, clinging to a one-score lead – our defense stiffened up and forced two fumbles at the goalline. Again, how sustainable is that? Probably not very.

By the look of things, this defense resembled so many Ken Norton defenses. Lots of yards given up between the 20’s, followed by just enough field goals allowed instead of touchdowns to give the team the victory. But, better teams won’t just settle for field goals. I would argue the Broncos will be A LOT better than this going forward, but we know Russell Wilson, and we had his number in this one. We’re not going to be so lucky against other teams.

So, enjoy this while you can. Because I can’t say this is going to continue even into next week.

Kudos to Geno Smith for taking a heaping mound of shit from everyone – fans, pundits, haters – and playing a game that was good enough to win. 23/28, 195 yards, 2 TDs, 0 INTs. I will say that he needs to step up more in the pocket, to help out his rookie tackles. But, to his credit, he did look good running the ball, and took a lot of tough hits in an effort to fall forward rather than play it safe and slide for less.

Rashaad Penny looked good, and could’ve looked even better if a number of his runs weren’t called back by penalty. I wouldn’t expect those flags to continue; as long as he’s healthy, I think he’ll continue his hot run from late last year.

Good job by the receivers and tight ends, though D.K. had another fumble that almost cost us dearly. I thought Brooks and Barton were solid and sometimes spectacular. I thought Nwosu was the best player on the field! Only one sack, but he was all over the place, making plays everywhere and made Russell’s life the most miserable.

I thought Jamal Adams looked terrible, and then he went out with a severe knee injury that’s probably going to end his season. Good thing no one was counting on him to be a big part of this defense or anything. I also thought Darrell Taylor looked REAL bad. He got beat around the edge too many times, never got close to sniffing Russell, and didn’t do anything in coverage.

Nice job by Myers for making a 49 yarder that proved to be the game-winner. And a couple good punts from Dickson. Also, phenomenal coverage and return yardage by the Special Teams. DeeJay Dallas gets a special shout out not just for his yards, but for his smashing tackle.

Finally, the MVP of the game goes to Denver head coach Nathaniel Hackett, who didn’t take a time out at the end of the game, with over a minute left, 4th & 5 at the Seahawks 46 yard line. Instead, he let the clock drain, called time out, then went for a 64 yard field goal that didn’t have much of a chance of succeeding (McManus even missed a warm-up right when we iced him). You made a HUGE trade for Russell Wilson, you paid him a bundle of money, and you DON’T put the ball in his hands to go for the first down and a closer field goal? What’s WRONG with you?!

Fun night. Now, let’s go lose a bunch of ballgames and go draft a quarterback next year!

We Don’t Root For Russell Wilson On The Broncos

I don’t know who needs to be reminded of this, but if you’re here you’re probably a Seahawks fan. If you’re from another fanbase, I don’t know what to tell you. How did you find this?! It’s not a particularly well-publicized blog. I’ve got no adds. I don’t even know what SEO stands for, let alone how it works.

Anyway, it should be obvious – as Seahawks fans – why we don’t root for the Broncos. Especially in 2022. We get their first round draft pick from this season! So, the worse they are, the better our return will be on this trade. I know, as fans of Wilson for the past decade, there’s a soft spot in our hearts for the greatest quarterback in franchise history. But, you’ve got to push that aside for the good of the team, and you’ve got to push that aside from day one.

I should also point out – for those not around in the dreaded Before Times – that the Seahawks shared a division with the Broncos for a significant portion of our time in the league. I fucking hate the Broncos based on history alone. John Elway is a douche, Mike Harden is a dick; the Broncos can go fuck themselves. Kicking their asses in our lone Super Bowl victory is one of the highlights of my life for this very reason.

It’s tough, though. Because while I would expect Russell Wilson will keep playing another 10 years or so (and I would expect many of those years to be played in Denver), he’s never going to be better than he is right now. And, right now, he’s still capable of being really good. Even over the last couple of up-and-down seasons, we’ve seen Wilson be as good as he ever was at times. When he’s healthy, when he gets time in the pocket, when his receivers are able to get open. So, if he plays for Denver another 5-10 years, odds are he’s going to be at his best in 2022.

This makes it difficult to root for the Broncos to be terrible, because odds are they’ll be pretty good. Wish (for the Broncos to suck) in one hand and shit in the other, you know?

There’s a nightmare scenario lurking as a result of this trade. That mostly involves the Seahawks bungling the draft picks they got, settling for a mediocre quarterback, and spending the next decade or more trying to find our next franchise quarterback. But, that nightmare scenario also involves the Broncos doing what the Bucs did in 2020 and what the Rams did in 2021: having their brand new quarterbacks take them to – and winning – the Super Bowl.

I don’t know enough about the Broncos’ roster to have much of an opinion. They seem to have some quality offensive weapons. Javonte Williams looks like a superstar-in-waiting at running back. They have interesting wide receivers who have been in the wilderness thanks to their inept quarterback play the last few years. They traded us Fant, but apparently have an even-better young tight end to replace him. Are these weapons on par with what the Bucs and Rams have enjoyed the last two seasons? I don’t think so, but I also don’t think they’re a significant drop-off either.

I’m told the O-Line is good at pass blocking, but I guess we’ll see. I’m told the defense is young and up-and-coming. I’m told Von Miller might re-sign with them. I’m told they have a lot of money to spend in free agency, even while taking on Wilson’s salary. They certainly seem poised to Win Now, as is the popular strategy of our time.

Indeed, they appear to be one of the few teams that looks set everywhere; all they needed was a franchise quarterback, and now they have him.

They even have a new head coach in Nathaniel Hackett, who was Green Bay’s offensive coordinator the last few years. The Packers have been elite – to say the least – in his time there (obviously, with Aaron Rodgers winning back-to-back MVPs). He seems like the ideal head coach for someone like Russell Wilson; someone who will base the offense around his top tier quarterback. What can go wrong?

Well, Russ isn’t Rodgers, for starters. Both can be wildly stubborn, but it does seem that Rodgers has bought into the system the Packers have been running. Will Russ be as amenable to tweaking his game? You have to believe the Broncos are going to utilize what makes Wilson so special – his deep bombs – but he also needs to do a better job of taking what the defense gives him. Settling for the cheap, short stuff. And he’s still going to want to make good use of the running backs, because it’s only going to make his job easier.

Russell Wilson is obsessed with being the best. That means winning football games and championships, but that also means putting up monster stats and winning MVPs. It’s hard to marry the two when the best path for Wilson to win games and championships is for him to do less, not more. Efficiency has always been his very best trait. Sure, he’ll have high TD games, but that might mean 4 passing TDs on 220 yards throwing.

Wilson becomes very predictable the more he throws the ball. He wants to chase those long balls, so all you really need to do is play a Cover-2 and wait for your pressure to get home. He doesn’t run as much as he could, and he’s slower than he used to be; that’s a bad combo for someone who holds the ball as long as he does in trying to find the perfect play.

It’ll be fascinating to see what he does. It’s all on him now. He needs to be the one to adjust. You can give him any offensive coordinator he wants, but if he’s going to continue playing Russell Wilson Ball, then you’re going to get Russell Wilson Results like we’ve seen the last half-decade. He’ll win more than he loses, but he won’t take you to the Super Bowl.

It’s even more fascinating because he has more power than he ever has before. Because Russell Wilson finally got what he wanted. He forced his way off the Seahawks and got to pick his destination. He landed on a team that’s been dying for a competent quarterback and is desperate to contend for another championship. The Broncos need him more than he needs them; he’s only got two years left on his deal. If this season goes poorly, he can always see his contract out and hit free agency. Pete Carroll was never going to cater to Wilson’s whims; I don’t think the Broncos have any other choice. They’ve invested too much.

It could be a disaster. We could see Wilson doing all those frustrating Wilson things that soured our last couple seasons. He could get injured. And we can all imagine the sidelong glances the Seahawks’ brass will give one another, as if to say, “See? This is why we got out from under this when we did.”

It could also be a total triumph for the Broncos. We’ll have to watch him in primetime a ton, we’ll see nonstop highlights on Twitter week-in and week-out, and we very well could see him with tears streaming down his face as confetti falls at the next Super Bowl. It’s all up to Wilson now. Is he smart enough to do what needs to be done?