Seahawks Q&A: Could Cowboys’ Prescott and Elliott be part of trade return for Wilson?
It’s been a hectic NFL offseason and free agency hasn’t even started yet, which makes this week the perfect time for another Seahawks Q&A.
Stacy Rost of 710 ESPN Seattle’s Jake and Stacy asked for questions from the fan base this week on Twitter, and she answers a few of them here:
@Noa_253: How realistic is a trade Dak and Zeke Elliott for Russ? Or Deshaun Watson?
I’m going to start by taking two steps back: The no-trade clause in Russell Wilson’s contract means he must approve a trade partner. It’s why it was so notable when Mark Rodgers, Wilson’s agent, gave ESPN’s Adam Schefter a list of four teams Wilson would consider.
In doing so, Rodgers clarified that Wilson hadn’t demanded a trade, nor had he suggested the Jets and Dolphins as potential destinations – but he also upped the stakes by offering what amounted to many to be a pre-approved list of suitors. Of those four teams (the Bears, the Saints, the Raiders, and the Cowboys) Dallas seems the most feasible. So, let’s look at Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliot first.
The Cowboys have the best quarterback talent to offer in a trade. The Saints have Taysom Hill, while the Bears have Nick Foles (Mitch Trubisky is a free agent). As for the Raiders, general manager Mike Mayock offered a ringing public endorsement of Derek Carr just Wednesday, calling him one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL and adding, “we’re happy with him.”
Dallas’ quarterback situation comes with a catch: Prescott is set to become a free agent on March 17, which means that to trade him, the Cowboys would need to franchise tag him by March 9 or sign him to a longer-term deal. (This of course assumes that Prescott signs the franchise tag). That’s also if Dallas doesn’t see Prescott as their guy. And if you think the Seahawks are cash-strapped now with Wilson’s deal, the 27-year-old Prescott will be looking for more; Spotrac estimates he’ll see a deal worth about $37 million per year.
That’s a lot of “if’s” and another big contract to take on. Throwing Zeke in as part of a trade package has been mentioned before. FOX Sports’ Jason McIntyre suggested a trade involving Elliott, along with two first-round picks and a second-round pick.
"Russell Wilson instantly makes you the team to beat in the NFC East. Jerry Jones, pick up the phone. Sweeten the deal with Zeke Elliott, and bring in Russ." — @jasonrmcintyre pic.twitter.com/Po6ZXFuf2E
— UNDISPUTED (@undisputed) February 26, 2021
One thing I’ll add here: From a national perspective, I think there’s a bit too much emphasis on Pete Carroll’s comments about running the ball. Carroll clearly wants to improve there and doesn’t seem to have any interest in having a pass-heavy offense like Kansas City. There are real philosophical differences there. But I would wager he also recognizes the value of a franchise quarterback and would guess that it’s draft capital (rather than just a top tier running back) that would most peak Seattle’s interest.
One final thing here: there’s a lot of dead cap involved in this hypothetical trade, and if there’s one thing teams don’t need in a year with a smaller salary cap, it’s that. Seattle takes on a whopping $39 million in dead cap if it trades Wilson. Dallas would take on dead cap of its own for Elliott – and then Seattle would have to decide whether it wants to pay a running back $15 million per year.
TL;DR: This doesn’t feel realistic for 2021.
@Seahawks12Fan: Assuming both Pete and Russ remain, how does John improve the O-line with a lowered cap and only 4 picks?
Just in terms of talent acquisition, John Schneider has his work cut out for him this spring. Seattle doesn’t have the cap space to add a top-tier guard like Joe Thuney outright. He’s expected to command around $13-15 million per year, while OverTheCap.com gives the Hawks $4.5 million in space. But that’s flexible. The Seahawks can restructure player contracts to add more space or release a handful of more expensive veterans. They could also add just one lineman — a left guard to replace Mike Iupati — while re-signing center Ethan Pocic.
Those decisions are the hardest for a team to make because it usually involves taking a risk. Take defensive end Carlos Dunlap, for example: Dunlap is 32 years old, and his contract carries a $14 million cap hit with no dead cap if the team decides to release him. They can also hope he re-signs with the team on a new, cheaper deal. The problem? If you can’t re-sign him, you lose out on one of the biggest difference-makers for Seattle’s pass rush. Dunlap racked up five sacks and 14 quarterback hits in just 8 games and is the most consistent performer at the LEO spot.
But if Schneider wants to add to the offensive line, he’ll need to make cuts somewhere, and it looks like a few of those could be on defense (letting Wright and Griffin walk would be another example).
The good news is that spending big in free agency doesn’t always equate to winning. In fact, according to analyst Warren Sharp, there’s a positive correlation between spending big and entering bidding wars and losing games. He found that one commonality among recent Super Bowl winners was spending less than average in free agency and signing players to shorter deals. He praises an approach that involves being aggressive, but also smart.
“I think most of these teams that are finding ways to win Super Bowls are being very aggressive. They’re just being aggressive in a smart manner… for you guys (in Seattle) you haven’t spent much in free agency for years… I think that there are going to be a lot of really impactful, good veterans who are going to get cut to help save in cap space. And they may be willing to accept one-year deals. And what most teams in the NFL don’t have that you guys do is a franchise stud quarterback. When you have him, this could be the offseason that if you get very savvy and aggressive and creative in free agency … I’m not saying spend the most money in the NFL, but convince some of these guys that you are a couple pieces away – which I think you’re very close to being that – of winning the whole thing. If you can build that momentum and get some of these guys to accept these deals, which more than ever will be accepting these short-term deals, that is the strategy I would take.”
Schneider and Carroll could also trade away a top-tier player to get more shots in the draft. I don’t think we’ll see a Frank Clark 2.0-type trade ahead of this year’s draft, but I wrote about which players could be dealt here.
If Seahawks won’t sign Carson, who else, in FA, fits in this offense?
Spotrac estimates the market value of Chris Carson’s contract will sit around $7.4 million per year, so if they can’t retain Carson with a competitive deal, you can probably assume they’re looking to spend less than that on a replacement in free agency.
I’ll give props here to my co-host Jake Heaps, who highlighted four potential free agent fits: one dream get (Kenyan Drake), three realistic fits (Mike Davis, Duke Johnson, and Jamaal Williams), and one wild card (James White). He also thinks Seattle should seriously consider bringing Carlos Hyde back.
Take a listen here.
@FuzzyDu84284036: Are we still feuding with Wichita?