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Mailbag: More thoughts on Russell Wilson, and could Seahawks wear throwback uniforms in 2021?

UPDATED: Mon., March 1, 2021

Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson runs with the ball during the second half of an NFL wild-card playoff football game against the Los Angeles Rams, Saturday, Jan. 9, 2021, in Seattle.  (Stephen Brashear)
Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson runs with the ball during the second half of an NFL wild-card playoff football game against the Los Angeles Rams, Saturday, Jan. 9, 2021, in Seattle. (Stephen Brashear)
By Bob Condotta Seattle Times

Russell Wilson is pretty much topics A-Y, if not A-Z, when it comes to the Seahawks these days. But as we open up the Seahawks Twitter mailbag, we did save room for some non-Mr. Unlimited questions.

You’ll have to read to the bottom for that, though, as we first delve into more of what’s going on with No. 3.

Q: Tweetsareduuumb asked: “Does Russell Wilson’s agent understand that the NFL has a salary cap? It is not like baseball where you can spend all you want. Is this a non-story if he has a football agent and not a baseball agent?”

A: I don’t think any of this is just that simple, that there’s just one thing at play here. As you note, Wilson’s agent, Mark Rodgers, had almost solely a baseball background before he began representing Wilson (though, as I noted in a 2015 profile on the Wilson-Rodgers relationship, Rodgers did represent former NFL running back Alonzo Highsmith, as well, during his NFL career from 1987 to 1992. Highsmith actually joined the Seahawks last year as a personnel executive).

I really don’t think Rodgers’ understanding of the cap is that big of an issue here. What is, maybe, is a difference in opinion of how that cap money Seattle has had over the years should have been spent.

But I also don’t think it’s as simple as that, either.

There appear to be some fundamental differences of opinion on the team’s style of play and Wilson’s influence over that and from Wilson’s side, worries if going back to a more run-based offense makes the best use of his skills; and maybe just a thought that going somewhere else and winning a Super Bowl there might create a different and maybe better legacy than he has built in Seattle, where the team’s initial success is always going to be credited more so to the defense and the running game (even if the view here is that that’s a real oversimplification made largely by people who didn’t watch the Seahawks day-in and day-out in Wilson’s early years to see the overall impact he had on things).

And as The Athletic story last week stated, maybe even an issue that Pete Carroll has no one to answer to when it comes to football decisions (though that idea seems to underplay the influence of general manager John Schneider. Some might also argue the track of teams with meddling owners …)

Maybe he just wants what seems like a bigger stage (and no, that’s not a reference to Ciara). Is there still some appeal to being the QB of America’s Team more than some others? Well, maybe, especially for someone of Wilson’s generation (he is, after all, 32).

Or, as former NFL agent Joel Corry put it on his Inside the Cap podcast, he may just have “Tom Brady envy.”

As for the cap, no doubt Seattle has chosen since 2015 to largely avoid spending big on the offensive line so it could spend big elsewhere.

Everybody understands the reality of the cap forcing the Seahawks to make uncomfortable decisions. The difference of opinion is in what decisions they ultimately made.

Q: Elmien0724 asked: “If things work out between Russ, Pete and John do you think Pete will finally let Russ do his thing and be the Main man of our offense?”

A: My initial answer would be to ask what is meant by “main man?”

The Seahawks last year threw more passes than the Raiders (Derek Carr), Houston (Deshaun Watson), Green Bay (Aaron Rodgers) and New Orleans (Drew Brees).

Were those four not the main men of their offenses (two of which – the Raiders and Saints – are on Wilson’s reported preferred list of trade destinations?)

Here’s another stat – in Seattle’s 12 wins last season, Wilson averaged 32.3 passes per game. In Seattle’s four losses he averaged 42.8.

So, is simply throwing more the answer for Seattle and Wilson?

The bigger takeaway may be that simply listing pass attempts – a common way of looking at a quarterback’s involvement in things – may not be the best way to determine how a QB is being used.

In the case of Wilson, he has also always been a big part of the team’s running offense, both in operating the zone read and scramble plays.

Here’s a comparison – quarterback A in 2020 had a combined 640 pass or rushing attempts, quarterback B had a combined 641. QB A there is Tom Brady. B is Wilson (and if you’re wondering, the Bucs ran five more plays than did Seattle in 2020).

To put it another way, Tampa Bay had 339 plays in 2020 where it took the ball out of Brady’s hands, the Seahawks 328 with Wilson, with, as noted, only five plays difference between the two teams.

So, who was more the “main man” of their offense in 2020?

All of this is to make the point that it can be sort of a nebulous definition – one that also doesn’t really take into account all the intangible responsibilities of a QB such as changing plays at the line and setting protections.

But no question, it’s an important one as it’s among those at the root of the Wilson-Seahawks kerfuffle. Knowing exactly what Wilson’s definition of it might go a long way toward solving things.

Q: AlexBerger005 asked: “Any chance on throwback uniforms next season?’’

A: Yes, there could be.

The sticking point for Seattle in donning throwbacks has been the NFL’s “one-helmet rule,” which was enacted in 2013 as a safety rule, the thought being a player wearing just one helmet all season was better than wearing multiple ones throughout the year.

The Seahawks haven’t wanted to wear their new helmet with the old uniforms – something a few other teams have tried with awkward results – and painting the helmets during the season isn’t practical.

But it has been expected the NFL may address the one-helmet rule again this year – NFL spokesperson Brian McCarthy told ESPN “there are ongoing discussions for a potential change for the 2021 season, but no decisions have been made.”

And if the one-helmet rule is changed, then the Seahawks will undoubtedly explore options for wearing throwback uniforms.

Q: KateOHareWrites asked: “Might we take JJ Watt on a one-year deal? Or Richard Sherman?”

A: First, I barely got this written and J.J. Watt then up and agreed to a two-year deal worth up to $31 million with the Arizona Cardinals, making my point that what neither Watt nor Sherman wants is a one-year deal, which inevitably tend to be viewed as on the team-friendly side, Each is among the best players of their generation, and no matter their age, aren’t yet at the point where they are just hoping for prove-it deals.

For what it’s worth, Pro Football Focus estimates Sherman to get a two-year, $28 million deal with $18 million guaranteed (PFF was close on what it guessed for Watt – two years at $25 million).

Regarding Sherman? Well, Seattle also has two of its own free-agent cornerbacks – Shaquill Griffin and Quinton Dunbar – to figure out first. That D.J. Reed showed last year he can play well as an outside corner and Seattle still has Tre Flowers under contract as depth, and Marquise Blair and Ugo Amadi back as nickels, has led to the idea that Seattle may need to re-sign only one of either Griffin or Dunbar to serve as the other starting corner.

Dunbar in particular might be a lot less expensive than either Griffin or Sherman, and given Seattle’s needs elsewhere, might be the most beneficial way to go. Assuming Seattle might actually be interested in a reunion with Sherman, and vice versa – a question that may not have an easy answer – I’d think it would only happen if the Seahawks don’t re-sign both of Griffin and Dunbar.

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