Thought Experiment: What is Russell Wilson’s Trade Value?


January 24, 2013; Honolulu, HI, USA; NFC quarterback Russell Wilson of the Seattle Seahawks (3) claps during practice for the 2013 Pro Bowl at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Given that outside of the Matt Flynn trade it’s pretty quiet around here, I thought I would embark on something of a thought experiment to help pass the time. It’s often said that, “every man has his price” and that saying got me thinking, what is Russell Wilson’s price? More specifically, what price would the Seahawks accept to part with Russell Wilson? Not that I would want him to leave, I’m just curious if it would be even remotely possible to trade for him. Wilson is immensely valuable because he is 24, he costs nothing, and he is already a top 10 quarterback in the NFL. I can’t recall when an asset of that caliber has ever been made available which is what makes it such an interesting thought experiment (at least as far as I’m concerned).

The first place to start would be what the Redskins paid for the 2nd overall pick in the 2012 draft that they knew was going to be Robert Griffin III. In order to obtain that pick, the Redskins traded the Rams the 6th overall pick and 38th overall pick in 2012 as well as first round picks in 2013 and 2014. That’s quite the bounty and an interesting starting point but there is absolutely no way Schneider would trade Wilson for a similar package.

Although RGIII was clearly something special, at the time of that trade he had never taken a snap in the NFL let alone performed at an elite level. Russell Wilson has performed at an elite level in the NFL and even won a playoff game in his rookie season. How much more value does Wilson have now than Griffin ? I’d say to start you could add two second round picks to the mix to make it an even three 1st  rounders and 2nd rounders. John Schneider is now listening but he’s not really paying attention. So a quarterback desperate team decides they’ll do one more year of forking over their high draft picks, now is trading Wilson worth thinking about? Now we’re talking about four 1st rounders and four 2nd rounders.  Is that enough?

Given that an unprecedented draft bounty is being discussed, the Seahawks would have to seriously consider it. Russell Wilson is a franchise player but with that many picks Seattle could create a dynasty. The problem is that they are going for it this year and as a result need some kind of quarterback in return. Pete Carroll believes in the point-guard role player quarterback so conceivably that he wouldn’t think this fictional quarterback needs to be particularly good for his team to succeed, merely good enough.  If we look at teams drafting near the top of the draft we can put together these ridiculous hypothetical packages including quarterbacks that might be able to manage games for the 2013 Seahawks, in Pete Carrolls view.

#1: Jaguars offer 2nd overall and 33rd overall picks in 2013 and 1st and 2nd round picks in 2014,2015 and 2016 as well as QB Chad Henne or Blaine Gabbert.

This is an interesting thought because the picks this year are so high but neither quarterbacks are good enough that the Seahawks could be confident in winning in 2013, unless Carroll somehow unleashed Gabbert’s latent potential. However, if Schneider didn’t think Henne or Gabbert was the answer he could draft Geno Smith 2nd overall. If you really liked Geno Smith then this deal would be worth considering, but it is such a monumental risk for both sides that of course it would never happen.

#2: Bills offer 8th overall and 41st overall picks in 2013 and 1st and 2nd round picks in 2014, 2015 and 2016 as well as QB Tarvaris Jackson.

The picks aren’t nearly as good but there is familiarity with Jackson who could likely win with this Seahawks team behind them. The likely inability to get Geno Smith as well as Buffalo’s potential to make a quick turnaround with a quality quarterback and make the future picks less desirable makes this a no-go for John Schneider. If you squinted hard enough (like dangerously hard) you could see the Bills making this offer given their desperation to bring Ralph Wilson a Super Bowl.

#3 Jets offer 9th and 39th overall picks in 2013 and 1st and 2nd round picks in 2014, 2015, and 2016 as well as QB Mark Sanchez

Very similar to the Bills deal, and including another QB that Pete Carroll is familiar with in Mark Sanchez. Sanchez is likely worse than Jackson, and while you could argue he has more upside, I wouldn’t. Schneider says no and I don’t think the Jets could get away with attempting something this bold in that market.

No other teams in the top 10 fit the criteria for creating such a package: Browns (no 2nd round pick in 2013), Eagles (have both Michael Vick and Nick Foles), Lions (Matt Stafford), Chiefs (traded for Alex Smith), Raiders (traded for Matt Flynn), Cardinals (traded for Carson Palmer), and Titans (giving Jake Locker a chance).

All in all what we’ve learned here is probably nothing. It’s pretty clear that Russell Wilson is not on the trading block, nor should he be. What I find interesting is that even the starting place for this hypothetical is fairly ridiculous. Trading for Wilson would require the kind of bounty no team would be willing to give because it would be betting it all on one player who could get injured or regress. With that in mind, it seems clear that Wilson is an illiquid asset. It’s kind of cool to think that the Seahawks’ franchise player is so talented and such a good contract value that you actually could not trade him. A counter intuitive thought that is also comforting somehow. Not that it takes a 1,000 words for Seahawks fans to know that the team is in good hands at quarterback. To conclude I will do what Russell Wilson would do and simply say “Go Hawks.”