MMQB’s Albert Breer: Pete Carroll, Russell Wilson clearly at odds over their visions for Seahawks
Will he stay or will he go? That’s the key question surrounding the Seattle Seahawks and star quarterback Russell Wilson this offseason after Wilson made it clear that he’s unhappy with his pass protection and feels his ideas for the offense have been stifled.
Wilson has not yet asked for a trade, and there are a lot of reasons – especially financially – why that may not happen this offseason, but Wilson and his agent did provide ESPN with a list of four teams he would be comfortable going to: Chicago, Dallas, Las Vegas and New Orleans.
It’s unclear what happens next as the organization has kept quiet throughout the ordeal, but someone who is keyed into how the NFL world is reacting to it is The MMQB’s Albert Breer, who joined 710 ESPN Seattle’s Brock and Salk Podcast to discuss the ongoing situation involving Wilson and the Seahawks.
Breer called the Seahawks one of the three to five best organizations in the NFL over the last decade, and said that despite a perceived dropoff as Seattle hasn’t made an NFC title game since 2014, the team has still been wildly successful, proven by making the playoffs eight of the last nine seasons with Wilson under center. But given the team’s success under head coach Pete Carroll as well as Wilson’s status as a top-three quarterback, “the bar is raised.”
Even with Wilson being unhappy, however, Breer believes the situation could be far worse for the Seahawks.
“It’s not like a wholly unhealthy situation,” he said. “There’s some good, young talent there with guys like DK Metcalf and Jamal Adams, and we’ll see what happens with Shaq Griffin and the contract situation there. But it’s still, I think, one of the top seven or eight franchises in the sport.”
Breer thinks Wilson’s comments have created a bit of a “quarterback mess” for the franchise, and potentially trading Wilson could be complicated for a variety of reasons. The team has been in “win-now mode” since Carroll’s arrival in 2010 and Carroll has a set idea of how he wants his team to operate, while Wilson is 32 years old and now at a stage of his career where there’s urgency because he’s worried about his legacy and whether or not he can win another title.
Though Wilson hasn’t yet said he wants out, Breer called the current relationship between Wilson and Carroll “strange,” and that Wilson’s comments have been strange as well.
“I guess the way I’d put it is it’s the most passive-aggressive trade demand in league history,” he said, laughing. “He doesn’t want out, but if he did want out, here’s where he’d want out to. There are a lot of teams that would trade spots with the Seahawks, but obviously they’re in a very awkward situation right now.”
Breer also said that Wilson’s relationship with the team has been more rocky over the years than you’d think because of his relationship with members of the legendary Legion of Boom defense, his past contract negotiations with the Seahawks, and the fact that his grumblings about the offensive line and the offense’s scheme have actually been talking points behind the scenes before he went to the media this offseason.
“All of this stuff has happened over the last nine years,” Breer said. “I’m not saying it’s at the forefront right now, but it’s all sort of lingering there.”
After the Seahawks’ 2020 season ended with a playoff loss to the Los Angeles Rams in the wild card round, according to Breer, Wilson met with Carroll and laid out three goals. The first was implementing a new offense, which has seemingly been done with the hiring of new offensive coordinator Shane Waldron. The others involved personnel and the team’s direction.
“And then wanting the offensive line fixed and wanting communication on the future of the franchise and the vision of the franchise,” Breer said. “I think Pete, (general manager) John Schneider and all the people that run the show over there, they were happy to have those discussions with Russ.”
But Breer said the Seahawks wanted those talks to stay in house, so when Wilson went public, “that’s sort of pressing the nuclear button to some degree.”
“When you do that, now all of a sudden, a team is going to look back and say, ‘OK, we’ve dealt with that on a year-to-year basis. It’s been awkward, it’s been weird at points, and now the guy is sort of pulling a lever we never thought he’d pull on us, so we’ve got a decision to make,'” he said.
Carroll is one of the most established coaches in the NFL, and Breer sees the organization as one trying to fulfill his vision of a contending team that’s “contained” and “sustainable.”
“And that vision, in Pete’s defense, has been excellent for the Seahawks over the last 11 years … It’s hard to argue with the results that Pete has produced,” Breer said.
The issue is Carroll’s vision for the team conflicts with what Wilson wants, as Breer thinks the quarterback wants be put “on this pedestal of maybe an all-time great.”
“I just think the piece over here on the team’s side, which is, ‘We still think doing things Pete’s way is the right way and it’s brought us great results,'” Breer said. “And over here, you have Russell who feels like, ‘You can get more out of me, I could be a bigger star and maybe get to this next level of being a professional athlete and you won’t do these things for me, so I need to go seek out a platform somewhere else where I can become that.'”
Breer doesn’t see a trade with the four teams Wilson listed as making much sense given that the Seahawks likely wouldn’t get great draft picks in return or a long-term answer at quarterback unless Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott, who is a free agent and looking for a new long-term deal, would accept a contract with the Seahawks as part of a trade agreement.
“All four of those teams, you want to talk about frustrating if you’re Seattle,” he said. “It’s like, ‘Dude, you aren’t saying you want out, but then you’re giving us four teams you would want out to and none of those four teams could provide us a clear path to having a long-term answer at quarterback unless we wind up doing a deal with Dak Prescott that would be record-setting because of the amount of leverage he would have.’ … When I look at those four teams, it’s almost like it’s trolling the Seahawks, you know what I mean?”
Breer pointed to comments Packers QB Aaron Rodgers made about his future in Green Bay being uncertain after a loss in the NFC Championship. Those comments, Breer said, were to put pressure on the Packers to be aggressive this offseason.
Breer called Wilson’s media blitz as “something similar,” but he’s heard differing thoughts from around the league that Wilson just wants to leave Seattle or that the Seahawks “are fed up with him.”
Whether the Seahawks are at a point where they’d OK a trade remains to be seen, Breer said, but their frustration level with the quarterback is rising for a number of reasons.
“I think part of the Seahawks’ frustration here is, ‘Do you know how good you have it? You’re in the playoffs every freaking year, you’ve played with generational defenses, you now have a really good young receiver in DK Metcalf, you’ve got a veteran in Tyler Lockett you’re throwing to, you have a promising tight end in Will Dissly,” Breer said. “(Wilson has also) had a running game that’d I’d say has been top five in the NFL over the last nine years. I think there’s a part of the Seahawks’ frustration where it’s like, ‘We’ve bent over backwards and we’ve tried to do everything you’ve asked us to do and we’ve maintained a consistent contender while we did that. What more do you want?'”
Breer thinks Wilson will be a member of the Seahawks going forward, though his confidence in that has decreased over the offseason. Ultimately, he thinks Wilson’s years in Seattle are numbered.
“I don’t think Russell finishes his career in Seattle anymore and I think there’s a decent chance he’s done his last contract for the Seahawks,” Breer said.
Wilson’s current deal expires after the 2023 season.
Listen to the full discussion with Breer in the latest Brock and Salk Podcast at this link or in the player below.