The Seattle Seahawks named rookie quarterback Russell Wilson their Week 1 starter on Sunday, ending a wide-open competition that began in training camp and continued into the preseason.
Wilson’s rapid ascent means no fewer than five rookie quarterbacks are slated to start their team’s season opener. It also means Seattle just spent $26 million on a second-string quarterback.
The Seahawks signed coveted Green Bay backup Matt Flynn to a three-year, $26-million contract — with $10 million guaranteed — in March.
But Wilson simply beat Flynn and incumbent Tarvaris Jackson out with his preseason play. In his first NFL start Friday night against Kansas City, the 2011 Big Ten quarterback of the year was 13 of 19 for 185 yards and two touchdowns. He also rushed for 58 yards in a display that was enough to earn him the start on Sept. 9 at Arizona.
“It’s been a very exciting competition that has gone on and Russell has taken full advantage of his opportunities and has done everything that we have asked for on the field and more than what you guys could know off the field in meeting rooms and with our players and how he’s represented. He’s earned this job,” Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. “It was a legitimate competition as we said from the beginning and with the opportunity he’s taken advantage of he deserves to start.”
Jackson is now headed to Buffalo to back up Ryan Fitzpatrick, and Flynn — who was held out of Friday’s game with an elbow injury — is now one of the league’s highest-paid second-string quarterbacks.
“Matt’s done a great job for us in every way, just the opportunities didn’t seem to come in as big a way as it did for Russell,” Carroll said. “He made the most of his.”
Wilson, a third-round pick in the June, started 50 consecutive games during a college career that began at North Carolina State and ended last year with a Big Ten title at Wisconsin.
In three preseason games, Wilson completed 35 of 52 passes for 464 yards and five touchdowns. He threw only one interception and also rushed for 150 yards and a score.