As the days grow shorter and the NFL season grows older, the possibility of a Russell Wilson trade grows more and more likely. There were rumors about his unhappiness in Seattle last offseason that were compounded with his media tour bashing the Seahawks' front office. In September, Ian Rapoport said the team would consider trading their franchise QB if the 2021 season doesn't go well.
Spoiler: the 2021 season is not going well for Seattle. It's going very poorly, actually. They're currently 4-8 with no shot at the division title and would need a borderline miracle in the last five weeks of the year to squeeze into the wild card picture. The thing is that the Seahawks aren't bad because of poor coaching or significant roster weaknesses. They are bad because Wilson suffered the first major injury of his career and missed over a month of games. His injury did expose how significant some of the holes in the team around him are, admittedly, but Seattle definitely got unlucky this year in the worst way possible and their record suffered because of it.
All that means the situation isn't as simple as the Seahawks are bad and Wilson will force his way out. But! If he does end up doing that, we now know where he's most likely to end up. Earlier this week, NFL insider Jordan Schultz reported Wilson would consider waiving his no-trade clause for three teams: the New York Giants, the Denver Broncos, and the New Orleans Saints. Ian Rapoport spoke on that report today and confirmed it.
Of those three possible destinations, the likeliest is Denver simply because of their salary cap situation. The Broncos are projected to have nearly $50 million in cap space this upcoming offseason. Wilson is slated to make $19 million next year with a cap hit of $37 million. They could trade for Wilson straight-up and be able to fit him comfortably under the cap with room to maneuver in free agency to fully load up.
The Saints have the worst cap situation in the NFL and how they would somehow manage to end up with Wilson without trading every other big-money player on their roster is borderline incomprehensible. They are projected to be nearly $50 million over the cap heading into 2022. GM Mickey Loomis has never let the cap ceiling stop him from doing crazy stuff before, but this would be another level entirely. Wilson paired with Sean Payton is a frightening concept for opposing defenses but it would require a complete reshuffling of the whole roster and New Orleans will have to seriously consider if they want to do that.
The Giants are right in the middle here. They don't have much cap space with only about $5 million in space for 2022, but at least they're in the green, unlike New Orleans. They have the weakest roster of these three teams but are a bigger market than the other two. What's working in New York's favor is their desperation. The organization is in the middle of another lost year. Dave Gettleman will probably retire as GM after the year. There are maybe three or four players on the whole roster that are worth keeping. Whoever takes the reigns after Gettleman could blow up the entire team and feel pretty good about that decision, which means they could reconfigure the roster to match what Wilson wants to a T. Their willingness to do that may separate them from the pack when it comes to the superstar quarterback's preferences.
Nothing is set in stone yet. Seattle ownership could pretty easily sell Wilson on the idea that 2021 was a lost year because he hurt his finger and they'll use all the resources at their disposal in the offseason to patch the holes around him before 2022. Of course, they've probably been making that same promise for years and clearly it hasn't gotten done. If the Seahawks limp to the end of the year with no hope in sight, Wilson may very well be on the move.