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Commentary: Here’s why Russell Wilson and Seahawks shouldn’t split

UPDATED: Thu., Jan. 20, 2022

Russell Wilson was sharp in Seattle’s final three games, throwing nine TD passes with one interception.  (Associated Press)
Russell Wilson was sharp in Seattle’s final three games, throwing nine TD passes with one interception. (Associated Press)
By Matt Calkins Seattle Times

SEATTLE – If you’re surprised by snow in Greenland, or a national football champ from the SEC, or screaming teens at a Bieber concert, then this probably caught you off guard.

The first Sunday after the Seattle Seahawks’ final game, a story came out with a headline reading “Russell Wilson wants to explore options this offseason.”

This is the speculation most of Seattle anticipated when the Hawks’ season came to a close – and the NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport kicked it off with an article citing “those close to Wilson.”

Intriguing? Sure. But for the drama addicts out there, I have some disappointing news: Russell isn’t going anywhere.

No, that does not come on the authority of the Seahawks’ front office or Wilson’s agent, Mark Rodgers. There is no one “close to Wilson” leaking a story to me about the QB’s intent.

The status of Wilson’s immediate future comes down to this basic truth: Him leaving just doesn’t make any sense.

For one, the Seahawks aren’t going to try to move a star quarterback who’s still in his prime. No signal caller in Seahawks history has been anywhere close to Wilson’s caliber, and it could be decades before they find another one like him again.

No, this wasn’t his greatest season. In fact, it was his worst season. After sitting out for three games due to finger surgery on his throwing hand, he came back rusty and occasionally reckless.

Wilson’s QBR, Pro Football Focus rating and rushing-yards-per-game average were all career lows, and he was ghastly on third downs. But in the last few games of the season, when it was clear he was 100%, No. 3 looked like the same quarterback that has dumbfounded opposing defenses for the past 10 years. The Seahawks aren’t looking to get rid of that.

Second, even if they wanted to move him, they probably wouldn’t get great value in return. As mentioned, this wasn’t Wilson’s best season. Teams might see a 33-year-old who is losing mobility after relying on athleticism for much of his career. That’s not going to command the draft capital necessary to rebuild a franchise.

Third, Wilson doesn’t want to be the bad guy. He isn’t built that way. It was clear he was uncomfortable answering questions about trade rumors last offseason, and he has repeated time and time again that he wants to stay in Seattle.

True, saying one thing doesn’t exclude wanting something different. But Wilson doesn’t want to be disliked in the Pacific Northwest, and the only way for him to find a new team next season would be to force a trade.

That would mean turning his back on a city that adores him with two years remaining on his contract. That would mean being an official malcontent. That worked for NBA superstars such as James Harden and Kyrie Irving. Maybe it would work if Aaron Rodgers wanted out of Green Bay. But Wilson’s personality is a lot closer to Mr. Rogers than he is to Aaron Rodgers. He won’t be making a heel turn – especially after having an off year.

Now, this conversation could be a whole lot different at this time next January. Seahawks coach Pete Carroll is getting a pass for a 7-10 season because of his track record, but another down season could put him and Wilson at odds. More significantly, next offseason is when the Seahawks would renegotiate Wilson’s contract if they wanted to extend him.

That’s how it works with Seattle’s marquee players – they start talking when there is one year left on their deals. And that’s when things might get contentious if Wilson wants to be the league’s highest-paid player.

Maybe then Seattle decides his $40 million salary-cap hit is debilitating and wants to ship him out. Or maybe Wilson – particularly if the Seahawks have another losing season – expresses unprecedented public frustration if he doesn’t get everything he wants.

But let’s be clear, if any of that happens, it’s happening next year.

It’s doubtful that Rapoport’s story will be the last that sparks concern among the Seahawks faithful. There’s a long offseason coming up, and writers need their clicks.

But there isn’t going to be any separation between Wilson and the Seahawks.

They may have lost a lot of games, but they haven’t lost their minds.

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