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Seahawks made the right, tough call with Russell Wilson

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The Seattle Seahawks traded franchise quarterback Russell Wilson to the Denver Broncos last year. Let’s grade the trade with the benefit of hindsight. 

Last summer, the bubbling tension between Russell Wilson and Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll was peacefully resolved — with a trade. Several franchises made a play for Wilson, but the Denver Broncos ultimately emerged as the Super Bowl champ’s new team.

The Broncos gave up the farm for Wilson, and at the time, who could blame them? Wilson was a nine-time Pro Bowl quarterback with a singular blend of mobility, accuracy, and veteran savvy. He was big-time on and off the field, with star power behind his name and a track record of high-level NFL success.

Denver had been searching for a quarterback pretty much ever since Peyton Manning retired. The chance to get one of Wilson’s caliber was too good to pass up.

Grading NFL history: Seahawks trade Russell Wilson to Broncos, one year later

Well, in the NFL, nothing ever goes exactly to plan. The Broncos expected Wilson to be the franchise’s long-awaited superstar QB. Denver has been home to some of the greatest players in the history of the position. What better place for Wilson to write the next chapter of his storied career.

That next chapter is off to a rocky start. Wilson played his worst season yet in Denver, looking far older and less athletic than he ever did in Seattle. Now 34 years old, it’s fair to wonder if the 5-foot-11 Wilson can ever regain elite form.

His 60.5 percent competition rate was the lowest of his career and he led the NFL with 55 sacks taken. The Broncos didn’t provide Wilson optimal time and space to operate in the pocket, but it was clear the former star just didn’t have quite the same shine.

In the meantime, Geno Smith took over the QB reigns in Seattle and experienced something of a renaissance. He led the NFL in completion percentage (69.8) and he threw for 4,282 yards, over 700 more than Wilson. Wilson threw for 11 touchdowns, Smith threw for 30 — in only two more games played.

Seattle was 9-8 with Smith on the field. Wilson’s Broncos were 4-11 with their “star” QB. To make matters worse, the Broncos handed Wilson a five-year, $245 million contract extension. And that’s on top of the treasure trove of assets they parted with to convince Seattle to make the move.

The Broncos hired Sean Payton this summer, the mastermind behind a decade of Drew Brees dominance. If any coach can bring out the best in Wilson, it’s probably Payton. That’s at least what his reputation suggests.

But there’s a very real chance the 34-year-old with a burnt-out arm simply doesn’t have much gas left in the tank. The Broncos are paying Wilson too much not to try to kick the tires on his stardom, but Denver fans have to be deeply concerned about the trajectory of the franchise with Wilson cemented as quarterback.

For the Seahawks, it would appear they got out from under Wilson at just the right time. Wilson’s unique attitude of non-stop optimism has definitely rubbed current and former teammates the wrong way, and now the performance just isn’t up to par. If we’re handing out grades, Seattle aced the course.

REPORT CARD

Seattle Seahawks: A

Denver Broncos: D



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