It’s never easy moving on without old friends. I contend that it may be the hardest thing about growing as a human. Now the Seahawks are moving on from Russell Wilson.
April will mark five years since my mother took her life, sending me into a three-year tailspin that changed the entire complexion and direction of my life. Nothing I’ve ever done or experienced has been more painful.
It has also been the greatest growing experience of the 25 years I’ve spent on this spinning lava rock. I’ve been forced to grow and evolve in ways I don’t think I ever would have under better circumstances. Suffering truly is the greatest teacher known to man.
I say that in order to say this — Russell Wilson being traded to the Denver Broncos is a loss most sports fans will never have to live through. The last quarterback to be traded in the middle of a Hall of Fame-worthy career was probably Warren Moon. And there will be no greater teacher, for fans, coaches, and players alike, than the fallout from this trade.
Moving on from Russell Wilson will be difficult but needed
The Seahawks now have the top-ten pick in this draft to replace the one they sent to the Jets for Jamal Adams. They also plugged a few holes they likely wouldn’t have otherwise been able to fix this offseason, adding Shelby Harris to the defensive line and Noah Fant to a tight end corps missing last season’s top two options. In addition, they recouped three more draft picks, at least two of which will fall within the top 40 picks in the next two drafts.
Is it an underwhelming return in exchange for one of the most exciting quarterbacks to ever take the field? Probably, on its face. There are certainly questions as to how Russell Wilson’s penchant for holding the ball and refusing to throw to check-down options will translate to his autumn years in the NFL. It’s also fair to question whether the Seahawks could have fashioned a team around him when his contract expires in 2024, since the QB market reset itself just hours before the trade was announced.
All that said, Russell Wilson was the glue that held the Seahawks’ amalgam of weapons, oddities, and cast-offs together. Oftentimes, it seemed as though Wilson held the entire fate of the Seahawks in his hands. Pete Carroll and Shane Waldron will have to find new ways to keep the ball moving. Carroll, in particular, will have to prove he is willing to adapt and evolve on offense, in addition to the comments he made regarding the defense.
For longtime Seahawks fans, at the very least, this marks a return to the expectations of Carroll’s early years with the Seahawks, in which the roster had eroded over years of aging players, increased payrolls, and shoddy coaching. Last year’s 7-10 finish will now likely be an optimistic projection, and the season will be more about development and searching for breakout stars than firm competition, especially in a division as competitive as the NFC West.
For Seahawks fans brought in by the success of the current regime, this will likely be a new experience. Russell Wilson is, after all, the best quarterback the Seahawks have ever had, and no one else even comes close. As a lifelong Seattle Mariners fan who is too young to remember the last Mariners playoff game he has seen, my best advice to you is this — rooting for a team with no expectation of being good is frustrating, but it is also a liberating experience. Cheering for a team without the pressure of success allows us as fans to appreciate the little things about the players and teams we root for.
Make no mistake, though — these next few years will probably be tough sledding for the Seahawks. The celebrations will be minor, and the heartbreak will be devastating, far more often than we Seahawks fans are accustomed to. The end of an era does not make this the end of the story, though. The Seahawks still have talent at a few positions, lots of draft capital to build youth and depth with, and an armored truck full of cash to play with over the next few years. They’ll find their way back to the playoffs in due time.
And so long as they grow from this experience, the Seahawks will be a better team for having gone through it.