Midway through the 2020 NFL season, all seemed right in the world for the Seattle Seahawks and star quarterback Russell Wilson.
The Seahawks found themselves either towards the top or at the top of the NFC West, and Wilson looked like a clear-cut candidate for league MVP near the midway point of the year.
Fast-forward just a few months, however, and things appeared to reach a near-nuclear level at the drop of a hat.
>>FROM OCTOBER OF 2020: Welcome to Seattle, the United States’ next major sports city
The Seahawks fell apart in the postseason, losing to an injury-riddled NFC West rival during a first-round upset at the hands of the Los Angeles Rams. Wilson’s MVP campaign faltered, with Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers instead ending up on the throne.
Then, what appeared to be an unthinkable option turned into a potential reality. Trade rumors began to swirl like football fans tend to expect as the offseason gets going, but Wilson’s name somehow wound up as a potential candidate for franchises looking to make a splash with 2020’s wide-ranging quarterback market.
How did we get here? As crazy as it may seem, why would the Seahawks potentially be looking at shipping their star quarterback, a perennial MVP candidate, out of town?
Nothing is set in stone, and it may look like there’s more going on with the situation than what’s actually happening in Seattle. But, it all escalated after an interview between Wilson and Dan Patrick.
What went wrong?
On February 9, 2021, just two days after Tom Brady’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers defeated Patrick Mahomes’ Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LV, the conversation was focused on a quarterback that didn’t even play in the Divisional Round of the playoffs.
Wilson was interviewed on The Dan Patrick Show, which came just a few weeks after rumors began to swirl around Houston Texans star quarterback Deshaun Watson’s frustration with his franchise, and a reported trade request that Watson had put in.
Patrick asked Wilson about his thoughts on his role in Seattle, and Wilson was quick to indicate that he wanted to play a bigger part in the franchise’s big-picture conversations.
“I want to be involved. At the end of the day, it’s your legacy, your team’s legacy,” Wilson said. “It helps to be involved more. That dialogue should happen more often.”
As a variety of storylines continued to play out surrounding some of the league’s best quarterbacks, Patrick asked Wilson about the rumors and reports about the Seahawks potentially being interested in trading their two-time NFC champion quarterback.
“I definitely believe they’ve gotten calls,” Wilson revealed.
Those two quotes sent shockwaves throughout the NFL, and got the newly-minted offseason started on a high note for those following the league’s quarterback scene.
At the same time, it got fans wondering about what went wrong between Wilson and the Seahawks, and how long the issues between the quarterback and his team had been brewing.
Reports back in 2018 indicated that Wilson’s team asked the Seahawks about general manager John Schneider’s appearance at Josh Allen’s pro day ahead of the 2018 NFL Draft, and the NFL Network’s Jim Trotter said that Wilson’s camp asked “if there is anything we need to know.”
Obviously, three years after the fact, we know that Allen wound up going to the Buffalo Bills in the 2018 NFL Draft, and Wilson would remain the Seahawks’ starter for four more seasons after that draft. Ironically enough, it was a Bills’ win against the Seahawks that ignited some of the anger Wilson had towards the Seahawks in 2020.
In 2019, Wilson would sign a four-year, $140 million extension with a $65 million signing bonus and an average salary of $35 million per year, and it seemed like the two sides had gotten back on the same page.
But, all was not sunflowers and daisies for Wilson and the Seahawks as each year of his contract played out, with reports indicating that Wilson left a meeting with his coaches in November of 2020 after a lack of interest was shown in his ideas to fix the team’s offense.
That frustration came just a few months after the “Let Russ Cook” movement began to run wild in Seattle, calling for the Seahawks to allow Wilson to utilize his arm more in the team’s offensive strategy.
Wilson himself endorsed the idea publicly, saying he “definitely” thought the passing attack should be involved sooner in games.
There was apparent anger regarding the team’s lack of pass protection and the franchise’s lack of interest in personnel decisions, and it all boiled over into Wilson’s agent telling ESPN that he would consider trades to the Dallas Cowboys, New Orleans Saints, Las Vegas Raiders, and the Chicago Bears.
While Wilson didn’t demand a trade, his list of potential partners that he would waive his no-trade clause for definitely seemed like a public version of a spouse telling another, “I’m not super hungry right now. BUT, if you were to get me a double cheeseburger from In-N-Out with ketchup, I wouldn’t complain.”
It was a clear message from the 32-year-old Wilson to his team: Let me cook, or send me to one of these teams that will gladly let me take control in the kitchen.
As tense as the situation in Seattle may seem, it doesn’t look like Wilson is in any hurry to leave the Seahawks before the 2021 season.
If you’re looking for that sense of urgency, you’ll have to take a flight down to Houston to talk to Watson and the Texans.
While there’s obvious fear of a holdout for Watson as it relates to the Texans and the 2021 season, Wilson has shown his interest in staying with the Seahawks if they can work out whatever issues there are between the two sides.
Of course, the easiest and best answer for everyone involved is simple conflict resolution, where the Seahawks and head coach Pete Carroll promise to make Wilson a more prominent part of the team’s key decisions moving forward.
Allow him to give his input, like Mahomes with the Chiefs after his 10-year extension to stay in Kansas City, and make him feel like his opinion is truly valued.
If that happens, there’s no reason why the Seahawks couldn’t find themselves back towards the top of the NFL when the 2021 season gets underway in September.
But, if the Seahawks operate like the situation will just simmer down as time passes, more issues will almost certainly arise.
Their star quarterback’s frustration will simply continue to elevate, and the product on the field and behind the scenes will suffer as a result.
Similar to the situation in Houston, Wilson’s anger could deter big names from wanting to play in Seattle if they feel like they wouldn’t be involved in the bigger conversation, and the franchise could suffer greatly going forward as a result.
While waiting for the Texans to figure out the Watson situation may seem like the best bet for the Seahawks themselves, getting ahead of it all will turn out to be best for Seattle.
Either rip off the Band-Aid and move forward without Wilson if things aren’t going to improve in a year, or “Let Russ Cook” and get back to the level of play that turned the Seahawks into perennial Super Bowl contenders in the middle part of the 2010s.