O’Neil: Unlike rivals, Seahawks sitting pretty after getting their QB drama out of the way before NFL Draft
The San Francisco 49ers paid a pretty steep price to put a project at quarterback. The Green Bay Packers, meanwhile, have a problem at that position. The Seahawks, meanwhile, are sitting pretty without so much as lifting a finger Thursday during the first round of the NFL Draft.
See, Seattle got their quarterback drama out of the way early this offseason. The pot that was boiling for two weeks after the Super Bowl then slowed to a simmer had cooled by this week to the point that coach Pete Carroll removed the lid and gave it a few stirs when answering questions from reporters.
We’ll get back to that in a bit because right now there are more pressing issues at quarterback in Seattle’s conference.
The 49ers swung for the fences, choosing Trey Lance of North Dakota State with the third overall pick that traded for, while the Green Bay Packers were caught flat-footed with the report from ESPN’s Adam Schefter that Aaron Rodgers would prefer not to play for the Packers going forward.
So in other words, the reigning MVP and the guy whose team has played for the conference championship the past two seasons hopes he’s reached the end of the road in Green Bay, while San Francisco drafted a quarterback who may take a year to learn before he’s ready to take over the reins of Kyle Shanahan’s San Francisco offense, which is notoriously tricky to learn.
Smell that, Seattle? Could be an opportunity for the Seahawks to wiggle their way up the conference pecking order this season.
San Francisco’s selection was the best-kept secret of this draft. The 49ers traded their next two first-round picks and a 2022 third-rounder to move up from the 12th overall pick to No. 3 this year, and Shanahan was so secretive that the team’s scouts and his coaching staff weren’t certain who would be selected. It’s similar to what Shanahan’s dad, Mike, did in Denver when he walked into the draft knowing he was going to trade up to get Jay Cutler of Vanderbilt but had kept that plan largely to himself until draft day.
Lance is stronger and he is faster than Alabama’s Mac Jones, who was also thought to be a consideration. Lance very well may have a much higher ceiling, but he’s going to be learning an offense that is notoriously demanding of quarterbacks, and he’ll be doing that after starting just 17 games in his college career at North Dakota State. As far as bets go, this was a huge one where the 49ers are betting on the upside of a player who had not played against the same caliber of college competition as Jones or Justin Fields of Ohio State.
While the 49ers were eyeing their long-term future, the Green Bay Packers faced a more immediate crisis. Their quarterback – the league’s reigning MVP – is not just unhappy but hopeful he gets a fresh start.
This has been brewing for a bit, all the way back to last year when the Packers traded up to draft a quarterback in Jordan Love. After the Packers were beaten by Tampa Bay in the NFC Championship, Rodgers made several ominous responses referencing the uncertainty of the future.
Most recently, Green Bay general manager Brian Gutenkunst spent a press conference trying to explain why Rodgers’ contract had not been restructured to give the team more salary-cap room and provide Rodgers more future assurances. If there was any shock to Thursday’s report, it was that Rodgers accomplished the improbable feat of making an even more backhanded attempt at a trade request than Wilson’s agent, who listed to ESPN four teams Wilson would accept a trade before specifying that Wilson didn’t want to be traded.
Now just because Rodgers is unhappy doesn’t mean he’ll get moved. But unlike other teams who’ve had quarterbacks express unhappiness with their current situation this offseason, the Packers actually do have a potential replacement on hand in Love. This is a situation that bears watching if not this year then next.
And that brings us back to the Seahawks, who seem to have found their way to a calmer place with their quarterback. Coach Pete Carroll spent a decent chunk of an hour-long press conference on Wednesday explaining just how copacetic everything was while discounting the magnitude of the disturbance as something that was largely inflated by the media.
That says more about what Carroll hopes happens than it does about what occurred this offseason, though. The coach is hoping that Wilson sees all the attention drawn to his expression of frustration and decides that’s not a route he wants to go down again. He is hoping that his quarterback doesn’t believe that he would be better protected if he was on another team or running a more potent offense, or that he should have more input on personnel decisions.
We’ll check back on all that next offseason. But for now, the Seahawks have something that two other NFC rivals don’t have at quarterback, and that’s stability.