Rost: How Seahawks QB Russell Wilson tried to clear up trade rumors
Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson was adamant about one thing Thursday: he never requested a trade.
Really, he was adamant about a few things during his post-OTA press conference. He also stressed was that he wants to win more than anything and that he’s excited about this year’s team – both themes he repeated on multiple occasions. But it was clear Seattle’s quarterback was willing to clear that primary rumor up early.
The follow-up answers were a little murkier.
But the backstory behind a strange Seahawks offseason is, at least partially, starting to take shape.
“There were a lot of teams out there that people were saying I was going to go to or would go to,” Wilson said in what was likely a reference to conversations stemming from a report in The Athletic that spoke of discord between key parties and included the Jets, Dolphins, Raiders and Saints as potential trade destinations. “(Saying) I requested a trade. I did not request a trade. I’ve always wanted to play here. And the reality is that I think calls were getting thrown around and this and that. And I think that’s just a reality. But I think at the end of the day the real reality is that I’m here, and I’m here to win, and I’m here to win it all.”
It’s possible to believe that Wilson truly does want to remain in Seattle while also questioning the notion that tensions weren’t brewing this offseason – on either side. Because while there were indeed people saying Wilson would go to a number of potential teams, one of those people was his own agent, Mark Rodgers.
Rodgers told ESPN’s Adam Schefter in February that contrary to reports, Wilson had not requested a trade. In a curious move, Rodgers then issued what amounted to a correction for two of the four teams listed. Nixing Miami and the Jets from the list, Rodgers said that if a trade were to happen Wilson would consider only Chicago, Dallas, New Orleans, or Las Vegas.
Reporters pressed Wilson a few times on the statement from his agent, but the closest he came to mentioning it was as part of an answer to a later question.
“The reality is there was a whole thing saying I requested a trade and that’s just not true,” Wilson said. “I didn’t request a trade. Everything kind of started from there. And then obviously tons of teams were calling. And I think that the reality was that I didn’t really want to go anywhere else, I wanted to play in Seattle. But if I had to go somewhere these are the teams that I would go to (or) consider. At the end of the day I have a no-trade clause, right? So … I think for me though I had a great conversation with coach (Pete) Carroll, had a really great conversation with John (Schneider), too. And Coach Carroll and I spent a lot of time together one-on-one and we’re on the same page. We’re here to do what we’re meant to do and that’s to win it all. I’m excited. I’m excited about who we have and the guys we have. I’m excited (about) where we are. Coach Carroll and I’s relationship couldn’t be stronger on it. Like I said earlier, my focus is to win. Winning is everything to me.”
Those reports may rear their head next year depending on the outcome of this season, but for now, head coach and quarterback have made it clear they’re on the same page.
Extra notes: Bobby Wagner chimes in on K.J. Wright’s future
It’s going to be a strange summer for Bobby Wagner. The 30-year-old All-Pro is entering the first season of his career without longtime veteran Seahawks linebacker K.J. Wright.
Wagner will instead be playing beside 2020 first-round pick Jordyn Brooks. It’s a more open competition at strongside linebacker, where Wright played last season, but the favorite candidate thus far is 2020 second-round pick Darrell Taylor.
If the Seahawks are looking to get faster on defense – and they should be – Brooks and Taylor are more favorable options. But mixed among excitement for young players will be an air of uneasiness about a position that’s been locked up for a decade.
“I’m entering year 10 and I’m used to seeing a particular face,” Wagner told reporters Thursday. “So, it’s definitely different. I’m hoping that everything still works out and we’re able to get him back. I think he’s a tremendous player, a tremendous person. Someone that anyone would love to have on their team. So we’ll see what happens. I’ve had conversations and I think he’s kind of waiting for the right opportunity. And I know he’ll get it because he deserves it. To have a guy that’s coming off like two of the best seasons he’s had, it’d be a shame for him if he didn’t end up on a team he wanted to be on.”
Wright’s free agent status comes as a bit of a surprise. Wright, who has spent his entire career with Seattle, turns 32 this summer. He also entered a tough market in a year with a lower-than-normal salary cap. But Wright has continued to defy his age; he recorded a career-high 132 tackles in 2019 (the year he turned 30) and has racked up four interceptions over the last two years, which double his total from 2011-2018. His performance at SAM last season earned him his highest grade from Pro Football Focus (75.7) since 2016.
Seattle has good reason to want to get two high-round picks on the field, but Wright belongs on a team – whether that team is the Seahawks remains to be seen, and a decision there feels far from imminent.