Clayton: Russell Wilson drama should be over for Seahawks this offseason
On the eve of free agency starting, some things became clear for the Seahawks.
First, they felt – and were right in thinking – that Shaquill Griffin was the best cornerback on the market. The debate was between Griffin and William Jackson from the Cincinnati Bengals. Jackson remains available but Griffin agreed to a three-year, $44.5 million deal with the Jacksonville Jaguars. Had the price been around $10 million or maybe $11 million a year, the Seahawks might have been able to keep him.
With the salary cap going down eight percent to $182.5 million, the Seahawks were hoping Griffin wouldn’t be able to get his true value. In a normal year, he could have received a $14.8 million a year contract. Normal is when the cap goes up $10 million year to year. Because Griffin gets to go back to Florida where he was raised and played college football, this was an offer he couldn’t refuse. And because the Seahawks didn’t place a restricted free agent tender on linebacker Shaquem Griffin, he is free to join his brother in Jacksonville.
The other defining part of Tuesday was the Chicago Bears’ signing of quarterback Andy Dalton. Dalton got a one-year, $10 million contract to go to Chicago. Dalton’s signing pretty well ends any continued talk about a Russell Wilson trade.
Wilson’s agent, Mark Rodgers, had listed four teams that would interest him if he asks for a trade. Wilson hasn’t asked for a trade, and the conversations are over.
The New Orleans Saints, who just got under the salary cap, re-signed QB Jameis Wilson. The Dallas Cowboys gave Dak Prescott a four-year, $160 million contract. The Las Vegas Raiders cut or traded three offensive linemen – Trenton Brown, Rodney Hudson and Richie Incognito – and told guard Gabe Wilson that he would be waived.
The Bears were aggressive in trying to get Wilson from the Seahawks but were told he wouldn’t be traded. There was a story being pushed that the Bears could offer five first-round picks, but it wasn’t true. The league won’t let a team trade a first-round pick more than three years in the future. Plus, trading Wilson would eliminate the Seahawks as a playoff contender as his $39 million cap hit would be paralyzing.
What I wonder is if the Wilson trade conversation continues. It shouldn’t. There wasn’t ever going to be a trade.
One thing fans who have turned on Wilson have to realize is one of the reasons the Seahawks haven’t freed up cap room from Wilson’s contract yet isn’t because of a selfish act by him. Doing a replacement deal with Wilson would significantly increase his cap number in future years. If the Seahawks or Wilson want to break their relationship next year, the dead money in the cap would prohibit any kind of trade just like everyone witnessed this year.
Word out of Chicago is the Bears also learned there was no way the Seahawks would trade Wilson because they wouldn’t get a quarterback in return. The Bears’s first-round pick this year in No. 20 overall, and five quarterbacks could go before that pick.
It seemed like the Seahawks needed to scramble for cornerback help after the news of Shaquill Griffin’s departure. They couldn’t get Janoris Jenkins, who agreed to a contract with the Tennessee Titans. But while re-signing Quinton Dunbar is an option, and going for Casey Hayward or Patrick Peterson could have been under consideration, they signed Ahkello Witherspoon away from the 49ers on Tuesday afternoon.
Running back should be the next move. Losing Griffin could give the Seahawks more room to re-sign Chris Carson. If not, they could go for Leonard Fournette or other backs.
It’s a busy time, but the Wilson story is all but over.