Russell Wilson seems set to become the next star quarterback on the trade market. He spent his offseason publicly criticizing the Seattle Seahawks front office. Ian Rapoport said before the year began that if things don't go well in 2021, the Seahawks could look into trading Wilson. Then the superstar suffered the first major injury of his NFL career and missed five weeks. He played very poorly in the two games after returning and Seattle is now 3-8 with almost no shot at the playoffs.
It's a lost year for the team, but the fact that it was mostly due to Wilson's finger injury may spur both sides to give their partnership another go-around in 2022, when everyone is healthier and the Seahawks add more reinforcements in the offseason. But that's no fun to talk about, so our attention is instead turned towards where Wilson could head this offseason should Seattle decide to auction off his services.
The motivation on New York's side obviously makes sense. The Giants need an elite quarterback if they want to turn this team around in short order. Daniel Jones has been serviceable at times but clearly does not have a high ceiling. The roster around him is not nearly good enough to make up for his shortcomings. Most importantly, the Giants have two first-round picks in this year's draft, and both are currently projected to end up in the top-10 selections. If Seattle is looking to kick-start their rebuild, they could do much worse than starting with two high picks, especially since they owe their own first-rounder to the New York Jets.
But it doesn't make sense for Wilson. His biggest gripe this past offseason was the woeful offensive line Seattle has put in front of him over the years. The Giants have one of the worst o-line units in the NFL, letting Jones get taken down 22 times this season so far, while producing almost nothing on the ground. If Wilson thinks he's been running for his life before, wait till he gets back there.
That isn't a reason for the Giants to avoid trading for him, of course. But there is something to be said about trading for a player who wants to be there, and more importantly, what the alternative is. If the Giants trade for Wilson and spend all the money they can (which is not a lot) to build a good team around him, how many more games can they realistically win? Wilson is a great quarterback and could do a lot of good things with the New York receiving corps, but the last few years in Seattle have proved he can only do so much. The Giants' defense is on the same level as the Seahawks. The line is worse. The skill position players are about a push. Wilson would make Giants' football more fun again-- but if the goal is to win championships, they'd be better off keeping the picks.
If they do that, then New York can get two elite prospects under contract control for the next five years. Those prospects could possibly be quite good. That does not fix the quarterback problem, but Jones still has one more year left on his deal anyway. The flashy move that will excite the fans and live up to the New York City billing is getting Wilson. But the smart move is to keep their draft picks and use them wisely.
Superstar quarterbacks are suddenly more available than they ever have been. Who knows what the 2023 offseason will look like? Let Jones play out his contract and re-evaluate. Maybe Baker Mayfield becomes available if the Browns decide to go in a different direction. He isn't Wilson but he's better than Jones. Maybe Aaron Rodgers decides he wants to be a free agent in 2023 and he can be the Giants' version of Tom Brady for the Bucs. Maybe Derek Carr wants out of Vegas. You just don't know.
A legitimate opportunity to acquire a player of Wilson's caliber is very rare. But the Giants can't jump the gun and they need to be smart. They don't have a Super Bowl-caliber roster regardless of the state of the quarterback position. If they do trade for Wilson, and it doesn't work out, Wilson can just leave in 2023. Rushing into win-now mode when the team isn't ready is a surefire way to set the franchise back years.
If Wilson can be had, the Giants have to look into it. But patience can pay off, and the Giants should know that better than anyone. They didn't win their two Super Bowls this century because Eli Manning was hands-down one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL. They built a good team around him, and Manning did just enough at crucial moments to win a ring. That should be the formula for New York to replicate. Not trading everything for a superstar then trying to piece together the roster around him on the fly.