Clayton: Why a Russell Wilson trade can’t be in the cards for Seahawks

Feb 25, 2021, 2:54 PM | Updated: 4:03 pm
Seahawks Russell Wilson...
Seahawks QB Russell Wilson is again at the heart of trade speculation. (Getty)

Let’s get to the bottom line on Russell Wilson: a Wilson trade can’t be in the cards for the Seahawks.

Heaps: This is about Russell Wilson wanting to win, not leave Seahawks

Sure, you can’t completely rule out a trade. There are no absolutes in the real world. And it’s pretty obvious Wilson’s team is continuing to strain his relationship with the Seahawks’ front office even though his agent, Mark Rodgers, told ESPN that Wilson hasn’t asked for a trade.

But while the relationship is strained, the numbers dictate Wilson will remain with the team.

Part of the reason is the contract Wilson signed two years ago. The Seahawks would have to take a $39 million salary cap hit if he’s traded. He received a $65 million signing bonus that counts as $13 million a year until 2024. That large of a cap hit would virtually kill any chance of the Seahawks being a playoff team in 2021.

Since 2013, 13 teams have had dead money take up more than 20.4% of their cap, and none of them made the playoffs. If the 2021 cap is settled at around $180 million, the $39 million would be 21.7% of the cap – and that’s just one player. Any other player who could be released could add to the dead money.

With the way his contract is structured, Wilson counts $32 million against this year’s cap – $13 million in proration and $19 million in a guaranteed base salary. Trading him would eat up $7 million of the Seahawks’ cap and force them to cut players to get under the cap. They are currently about $4 million under the cap.

The Seahawks were a 12-win division champion in 2020 and they aspire to be a Super Bowl contender again this year. The Wilson cap hit would turn a potential contender into a rebuilding team, much like it was in 2010 when head coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider took over the team. Carroll signed a five-year extension last year and Schneider recently signed a six-year extension. They don’t seem to want to concede 2021 by trading Wilson.

Something that doesn’t help matters is that while Rodgers told ESPN that Wilson didn’t ask for a trade, he said that if there was a trade, Wilson would only want to go to New Orleans, Dallas, Las Vegas or Chicago.

All four of those teams would have hurdles in trying to make a trade for Wilson.

The Saints are more than $60 million over the cap and would struggle to take on Wilson’s $19 million salary. The Cowboys could re-sign or franchise Dak Prescott by March 9. The Raiders are tight against the cap and have needs at every position on defense. And it might be tough for the Bears to come up with at least three first-round picks or more to trade for Wilson.

The cap hit for Wilson after June 1 would be $13 million this year and $26 million in 2022, but would any of those four teams wait that long for a trade? Wilson also has a no-trade clause in his contract, so while the Seahawks might listen to offers, that only adds to the difficulty in making a trade.

In a Thursday story, The Athletic reported Wilson stormed out Carroll’s office when Carroll rejected Wilson’s suggestions to fix the Seahawks’ offense after Wilson had seven turnovers combined in back-to-back losses to the Buffalo Bills and Los Angeles Rams. Carroll’s main belief is if a team loses the turnover battle, they lose the game, so he went to more of a run-oriented offense for a while.

After the season, Carroll fired offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer and hired Shane Waldron from the Rams to install the Kyle Shanahan/Sean McVay offense that calls for the quarterback to get rid of the ball quicker and mix in a good package of running plays. Clearly there are plans to try new things with Wilson next season, regardless of what’s going on between the two sides this offseason.

We know the Wilson story isn’t going away, but he’s not going anywhere, either.

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