The Denver Broncos on Tuesday landed the franchise quarterback they so desperately sought when they agreed to a trade with the Seattle Seahawks for nine-time Pro Bowl selection Russell Wilson, according to multiple people familiar with the deliberations.
According to that person, the Broncos will receive Wilson and a fourth-round draft pick. Denver will send quarterback Drew Lock, tight end Noah Fant, defensive lineman Shelby Harris and a package of draft choices — two first-round selections, two second-rounders and a fifth-rounder — to the Seahawks.
The Broncos and Seahawks did not immediately confirm the trade agreement. The deal cannot become official until the NFL free agent market opens March 16.
Seahawks Coach Pete Carroll said last week in Indianapolis at the NFL combine that the team did not intend to trade Wilson. But Carroll also acknowledged then that General Manager John Schneider was fielding trade inquiries.
“At this time of year, there’s conversations about everybody,” Carroll said then. “And it’s commonplace for us to have conversations with teams about all of the players, particularly marquee players. That’s not changed. It’s been the same every year. It’s the same. We have no intention of making any move there. But the conversations, John has to field those. He always has. But [there’s] nothing specific.”
It previously was believed the Broncos would be a top contender for Aaron Rodgers if the four-time league MVP opted to leave the Green Bay Packers. But Rodgers announced Tuesday that he will remain in Green Bay, as he and the Packers are negotiating a new contract expected to be worth about $50 million per season, according to multiple people with knowledge of those deliberations.
So Broncos General Manager George Paton and Coach Nathaniel Hackett, who was hired in January after serving as the Packers’ offensive coordinator, had to look elsewhere to fill their quarterback void. They made the boldest of moves, lining up one of the biggest trades in NFL history.
Wilson, in effect, was able to choose his destination, given the control afforded by his no-trade clause. The Washington Commanders pursued a trade for Wilson and offered the Seahawks a lucrative package of three first-round draft picks, according to a person with knowledge of those talks, but they were left with the impression that Seattle was unwilling to trade Wilson to another NFC team.
With the Broncos in the AFC West, Wilson will vie with fellow star quarterbacks Patrick Mahomes of the Kansas City Chiefs, Justin Herbert of the Los Angeles Chargers and Derek Carr of the Las Vegas Raiders. Even so, the Broncos represented an attractive situation. Hackett is a respected offensive coach, and Wilson’s wide receivers in Denver will include the talented group of Jerry Jeudy, Courtland Sutton and Tim Patrick.
The Broncos have not reached the playoffs since winning the Super Bowl, in the send-off for quarterback Peyton Manning, to conclude the 2015 season. They fired Vic Fangio as their coach in January following a 7-10 season and have searched fruitlessly for a centerpiece quarterback since Manning’s retirement. Now they have one of the league’s best.
Wilson has two seasons remaining on a four-year, $140 million contract. He will make $51 million over the next two years.
The Broncos are scheduled to play in Seattle during the 2022 season, setting up a homecoming for Wilson.
Wilson was chosen by the Seahawks in the third round of the 2012 draft. He became the most accomplished quarterback in a class that included far more celebrated — at the time — standouts Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III and Ryan Tannehill. Luck, taken first by the Indianapolis Colts, and Griffin, chosen second by Washington, are retired.
Wilson and Carroll teamed to lead the Seahawks to the playoffs eight times. The Seahawks won the Super Bowl to close the 2013 season, beating the Manning-led Broncos. They returned the following season, only to lose to the New England Patriots when Carroll infamously opted against handing the ball to tailback Marshawn Lynch at the 1-yard line with the game on the line and Wilson instead threw an interception to Malcolm Butler.
Trade speculation swirled around Wilson last offseason, but he remained in Seattle. The Seahawks, however, slumped to a 7-10 record and missed the playoffs, with Wilson sidelined for three games because of a finger injury that required surgery. There was talk that the long pairing of Carroll and Wilson was over. That wound up prescient, and Carroll and Schneider now must oversee a retooling without the franchise’s iconic quarterback.
With Rodgers staying in Green Bay and Wilson headed to Denver, quarterback-needy teams such as the Commanders, Pittsburgh Steelers and others are left to sort through a greatly depleted list of options. The Houston Texans could trade Deshaun Watson, who did not play at all last season while facing allegations of sexual misconduct made by women in civil lawsuits. He has denied the accusations and has not been charged with a crime.
Other potential trade targets could include the Colts’ Carson Wentz and the San Francisco 49ers’ Jimmy Garoppolo. Available free agents include Jameis Winston, Teddy Bridgewater, Mitchell Trubisky, Marcus Mariota and Tyrod Taylor.
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Exclusive: An employee of Washington’s NFL team accused Snyder of asking for sex, groping her and attempting to remove her clothes, according to legal correspondence obtained by The Post. A team investigation concluded the woman was lying in an attempt to extort Snyder.
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