With Wilson, Seattle is a Super Bowl contender. By trading him, Coach Pete Carroll and General Manager John Schneider almost certainly would be forced to completely rebuild. There’s no incentive for the Seahawks to trade Wilson, and the situation is not at the point where they have no choice but to do so.
Moreover, none of the potential trade destinations that Rodgers gave in his statement Thursday — Chicago, Dallas, Las Vegas and New Orleans — are in a particularly good position to make a blockbuster trade offer for an expensive franchise quarterback.
But as recent reports from the Athletic and others have indicated, Wilson is indeed frustrated with the Seahawks. The offensive line has been a problem in recent seasons, and Wilson — even though he shares some blame for the amount he gets hit, given his penchant for extending plays — was sacked 47 times last season and has been sacked at least 40 times eight seasons in a row. He also disagrees with Carroll’s preferred offensive philosophy, which is to go back to a run-first approach.
So what can the Seahawks do to lower tensions with their franchise quarterback? Here are some of Seattle’s options:
Say little about Wilson publicly for now and hope the issues calm down.
Unlike San Francisco 49ers General Manager John Lynch, who said recently that he expected Jimmy Garoppolo to be the team’s starting quarterback next season, the Seahawks don’t need to do the same. It should be obvious that Wilson will be the Seahawks’ quarterback, and the best thing might be to let a little time pass and hope that Wilson’s frustrations subside.
Moreover, it doesn’t hurt Seattle if other teams think a Wilson trade is possible. Schneider would benefit from at least hearing what teams are offering, just to know what the market is for Wilson in case it gets to the point that he is demanding a trade.
Keep communicating with Wilson about what the team is doing to upgrade the offense.
The Seahawks can’t let Wilson dictate which players they acquire, but they should keep him in the loop on major decisions. They have pulled him into their discussions previously, including when the team considered signing wide receiver Antonio Brown, who had worked out with Wilson.
Believe it or not, Wilson and the Seahawks are on the same page in trying to build the best roster to get the team back to the Super Bowl. Schneider is aggressive. Last year, he traded for cornerback Quinton Dunbar, safety Jamal Adams and defensive end Carlos Dunlap and signed tight end Greg Olsen and running back Carlos Hyde. Wilson keeps saying he wants the Seahawks to sign as many star players as possible, and with the leaguewide cap reduction, there could be better players available at lower prices in the coming weeks.
At running back, the Seahawks need to re-sign Chris Carson or add another quality veteran. Seattle also should talk to Wilson about whom they are looking at as a third wide receiver. They have one of the best one-two punches in Tyler Lockett and DK Metcalf. While David Moore was a solid third receiver, he’s now a free agent.
Continue to upgrade the offensive line.
Lost in the Wilson complaints is the fact that last year’s offensive line was the best the Seahawks had in three years. It needs to get better, but Brandon Shell was an upgrade at right tackle, and guard Damien Lewis was one of the league’s best rookie offensive linemen. And Duane Brown had an excellent year at left tackle.
But two spots are uncertain. Left guard Mike Iupati retired, and center Ethan Pocic is unsigned. Wilson would be thrilled to see the Seahawks try to sign Packers center Corey Linsley, but he might be too expensive if he commands $10 million per year. He’s the best center in free agency. The Seahawks could go for guard Gabe Jackson if the Raiders cut him. Carroll and Schneider should keep Wilson in the loop on these decisions.
Make structural changes to the offense.
Carroll did keep Wilson informed during the hiring of offensive coordinator Shane Waldron, whom Wilson seems to like. Over the next month or so, Waldron should go over with Wilson the scheme adjustments he’s planning to help him get rid of the ball more quickly. Waldron comes from the Los Angeles Rams and has an offensive philosophy similar to that of Sean McVay and Kyle Shanahan. Over the past four years, the 49ers and Rams have had a quarterback sacked more than 30 times in a season just once each.
Don’t get intimidated by the pressure campaign.
Given Wilson’s comments after the season ended and Rodgers’s statement to ESPN that included possible trade destinations, it’s clear that the quarterback is hoping to apply some pressure.
But one reason this is playing out in the media could be because Rodgers is a baseball agent whose only NFL client is Wilson. That means he doesn’t have the option, as most NFL agents do, of contacting teams about other players and then pivoting the discussion to Wilson. (Agents aren’t allowed to talk to teams about players who are under contract elsewhere.)
Treat 2021 like a Super Bowl-or-bust season.
Seahawks management should approach this season as if it’s Seattle’s last run at the Super Bowl and max out to assemble the best roster possible. The Seahawks clearly aren’t that far away, having won the NFC West last season at 12-4.
If Wilson isn’t satisfied with the team’s changes and Seattle has another disappointing finish, he could demand a trade next offseason, putting the Seahawks in a difficult position. But, ultimately, if the Seahawks win, they will be fine. Wilson just wants to win, and a run deep into the playoffs or to the Super Bowl would solve a lot of problems.