BY Art Thiel 03:38PM 03/06/2021

Thiel: How about a trade for top pick Lawrence?

As the QB frenzy in the NFL increases, what if Wilson’s designated teams can’t pull the trade trigger? Here’s an idea: Wilson to the Jags for the No. 1 pick in the draft.

Some say Clemson QB Trevor Lawrence is the second coming of Andrew Luck. / via Wikimedia Commons

Every day that draws closer to the March 17 start of NFL free agency ratchets up the frenzy around the future of Russell Wilson, compounded by the unclear futures of fellow top-tier QBs.

The latest is a report Friday from the Chicago Tribune that the said the Bears, the apparent least likely of four teams to which Wilson supposedly would accept a trade (also, the Raiders, Cowboys and Saints), “have prioritized making a run” at Wilson, although sources were neither identified nor quoted.

But as with each team, it’s complicated.

If the Seahawks want in return an accomplished veteran QB, the Bears can offer only Nick Foles, 32, who was beaten out at season’s end by the oft-maligned Mitch Trubisky, who’s a pending free agent. The Bears have the 20th pick in the first round, which likely won’t be enough to get a top-tier rookie QB.

The Bears also are currently about $7 million over the salary cap. They certainly can cut players and restructure the contracts of others to fit in Wilson’s $19 million cap hit in 2021, but can they do so without diminishing their chances for the quick success for which Wilson lusts?

Cap problems are worse for the Saints, even after Drew Brees said he would play for the minimum veteran’s contract (if he returns instead of retires). Despite that help, the Saints are currently more than $40 million over the cap.

Regarding the Cowboys and Raiders, they seem to have QBs of sufficient merit to carry on next season, even if Wilson would be an upgrade.

Cowboys boss Jerry Jones seems to want to keep Dak Prescott, 28 in July, although the Cowboys face an NFL deadline of Tuesday to use the franchise tag again, which this time means a pay increase to $37.7 million for 2021. In Las Vegas, GM Mike Mayock gave an endorsement for QB Derek Carr, 30 this month, for what it’s worth. At least it’s someone in this circus who’s willing to publicly offer a declarative sentence.

One thing that remains unchanged is the largest financial impediment to trading Wilson now: The $39 million hit to Seattle’s 2021 salary cap.

The massive lump sum would nearly freeze the Seahawks’ ability to improve the roster from what is anticipated to be a good class of middle-tier free agents released by other teams in order to survive the pandemic-induced drop in the salary cap. All teams must be cap-compliant by March 17, the start of the league’s business year.

That doesn’t mean that Wilson can’t be traded later, only that his place as a fixture of consistent success is attractive to free agents who are good enough to have choices among multiple destinations. A settled QB situation in Seattle likely would be a tiebreaker among comparable offers.

All of these factors lead me to think that Wilson is more likely than not to remain a Seahawk for at least this season. But since we’re all having semi-fun with this Speculation-
O-Rama in which Wilson directly plunged us, what if another team made an offer the Seahawks couldn’t pass up?

Like, say, the Jacksonville Jaguars.

The idea comes from Tony Softli, a longtime NFL executive and former Huskies star who contributes to 950 KJR radio, with whom I chatted on his Pylon & Sticks podcast.

In possession of the No. 1 draft pick that will be Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence, said to be the best QB prospect coming out of college since Stanford’s Andrew Luck in 2012, the woebegone Jags would seem set for transformation. They have 11 draft picks and a league-high $85.2 million in cap space.

The Jags undoubtedly have spurned numerous offers for the pick. But they have an ambitious owner, Shad Khan, who has seen one winning season in the past 13 and is sick of the NFL basement. From this interview with Sports Illustrated, he understands his obvious football needs.

Khan is a Pakistan-born American billionaire who bought the Jags in 2011 and, at 70, is probably eager for success now, rather than later. He’s also big into soccer, as is Wilson, a minority owner of the Seattle Sounders. Khan owns Fulham FC of the English Premier League. Among the most worldly of NFL owners, Khan has had the Jags in the NFL’s annual sojourns to London more than any other team.

He’s probably someone good to know in case a guy might have ambitions to build a global brand.

Imagine Wilson in his first season helping turn a 1-15 team into playoff-caliber, then a Super Bowl contender in the second year, then winning it all in year three. Sounds like one or two MVP awards might be found in that scenario, if one were into that sort of thing.

The third year also happens to be the final year of his current contract. Wilson then could be a free agent at 36. To put that in NFL terms, that’s one year younger than Aaron Rodgers when he won the 2020 MVP award.

If Wilson needs some personal insight into the Jags’ potential, the offensive coordinator is Darrell Bevell, his direct boss in Seattle when the Seahawks won the Super Bowl. Bevell recently hired as pass-game coordinator Brian Schottenheimer, who as recently as October was directing in Seattle the highest-scoring offense in the NFL.

Jeez. What a thing it would be to be able to listen into that three-way Zoom conference. Ah, but that would break the NFL rule against tampering, as well as federal law against eavesdropping.

However, we can add that Bevell and Schottenheimer were hired by head coach Urban Meyer, who is new to the NFL but has a long college history marked by instant success wherever he went (Bowling Green, Utah, Florida and Ohio State). And in the pros, there’s none of those gosh-darn NCAA rules to follow.

If the Seahawks were to acquire the top pick and take the 6-foot-6 Lawrence, they would be getting Pro Football Focus’s highest-graded prospect in the past seven drafts.

He was 34-2 as a starter, having lost only in the College Football Playoffs (as a sophomore, to LSU in the Championship, and as a junior to Ohio State in the semifinals). As a freshman, Lawrence helped beat Alabama for the title. Lawrence completed 66% of his career passes for 10,098 yards for 90 touchdowns and 17 interceptions. He also rushed for 943 yards and 18 touchdowns.

As to the question of why Wilson would go to the NFL’s second-smallest market, there’s something to keep in mind.

The sports world has changed since the days when big and small market designations mattered. Developments in social media make more and more irrelevant any geographic distinctions and local marketing. Anyone living anywhere can be an influencer on Instagram, YouTube and TikTok. Today, for many things, there is one market — the globe. As much as any athlete, Wilson is hip to the new world.

If the economic impacts of the pandemic have taught us anything, it’s that many jobs in many businesses can be done by workers regardless the location of their desk and chair.  Wilson is not so fortunate, but he is well-compensated for his annual 16 Sundays at the office.

Which gets us to Wilson’s wife, Ciara, who often gets mentioned as a reason he might gravitate to a bigger market, for the benefit of her singing career. Again, irrelevant.

The couple already spends a good chunk of the NFL off-season in a second home in the entertainment capital of the world. That doesn’t need to change regardless of where Wilson works. She can also afford to fly via private jet to any gig, anywhere.

So yes, the idea of Lawrence for Wilson is plausible. Kinda depends how audible one’s clock is.

I have no idea what else may go into such a trade. I also have no idea whether Wilson would expand the list of tradable teams. I just can’t see a reason why that wouldn’t happen. In Seattle, the arrival of Lawrence also would, with unnatural quickness, take much of the sting out of losing Wilson.

As for the notion of an old coach taking on a rookie starter at quarterback, well, I’ve seen it work at least once before.


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  • cocktaildave

    DO IT!!!

    • art thiel

      You and I will make splendid GMs.

  • busterbluth

    Jacksonville would be insane to even consider this.

    • art thiel

      Remember, the owner has been at it a decade and he’s 70, plus he has an arsenal of picks and cap room. Tell him he’s insane.

  • Talkjoc

    A one for one trade is ludicrous. Wilson is a multi- year Super Bowl winning QB. The kids kid might be the next Andrew Luck. Might. Wilson already is. Add a first and a second and we’ll talk.

    • art thiel

      As I wrote, I didn’t speculate about other elements. It certainly would include more draft picks from JAX, perhaps a prime player.

  • jafabian

    It’s definitely worth exploring. Both the Rams and Cardinals have made drastic improvements to their teams and the Hawks are cash strapped with only five picks for the upcoming draft and their first pick isn’t until 56th. Both Wagner and Wilson are taking up a lot of the payroll budget and won’t be getting better. They’re not getting worse but both are now in their early 30’s. Getting Nick Foles might be a good move for a year or two and then going after a QB because Foles excels in the underdog role. When he’s handed the keys is when he spins out. Why not go after Jared Goff then? Like he wouldn’t relish an opportunity to play the Rams twice a year?

    I’m wondering though if trading with Atlanta might be a better option. They still have a high pick at 4. Maybe Wilson and the 56th pick for Ryan and #4? Also BYU’s Zach Wilson is a good QB who might be available at that slot.

    • art thiel

      Your point about Rams/Cards moves is important, especially in a lower cap year. Can the Seahawks bust a big move other than a trade of Wilson? His big salary and the $39M in ’21 make the roster like a turtle on its back.

      • jafabian

        Unless they can double their number of draft picks or can free up cap space the Hawks at best will be the same team as last year. That’s good enough to finish third in the NFC West. The Seahawks brain trust knows this and has some choices to make. I’m thinking they’ll just make do with what they because dry spells happen and will make their moves in 2022. Because the only way they can get better is if they do something about Wilson and Wagner’s salaries.

  • Husky73

    RW stays with the Seahawks for the coming season. Bet on it.

    • jafabian

      Probably but it’s curious that he’s said nothing to refute the rumors. Instead allowing them to continue and grow. His agent, who we assume is speaking Wilson’s intents, says he wants to retire a Seahawk but will then speak a contradictory statement. He’s content to simply show videos on social media of himself exercising. Earl Thomas did the same before he left. Just a weird way to deal with all this by Wilson.

      • Husky73

        Wilson holds some cards (not all of them), and he’s going to play them between now and the start of training camp. The times they are a-changing, with quarterbacks having expectations and making demands.

        • jafabian

          That’s going to be up to Wilson. Sherman and Thomas proved that the Seahawks have only so much patience. As did the Ravens and Niners. Continued criticism without warning would get the club to think, especially if the top pick is being offered. The Seahawks have never had that kind of opportunity in their history .

          • art thiel

            My guess Wilson has said his public piece, until such time as he calls for a trade.

          • Mark Stratton

            Just read a brief about an anonymous ex Seahawk (Richard Sherman?) who points out that without a dominant defense and running game Wilson is 1-3 in postseason. Maybe Carroll has given Russ all the rope he’s going to get

          • Husky73

            How would that be any different from any other quarterback without a dominant defense and weak running game?

          • Mark Stratton

            Russ wants to be the man. Aaron Rodgers had a so-so defense and run game. Ditto Mahomes. Russ obviously sees himself in the same stratosphere as them. This posting suggests he doen’t have the goods.

          • eyeroq

            I think he clearly does and has proven it. It’s the offense that’s held him back.

          • eyeroq

            What QB wins without weapons? It’s not fair to hold Wilson to a different standard.

          • Mark Stratton

            You mean like Aaron Rodgers? Rodgers has one good receiver and has made him unstoppable even though everyone knows he’s the main target. Russ wants to be the man and that means generating offense with the tools available. He had very good tools this year and gagged on the big stage

          • eyeroq

            You mean half a year after a torrid 6-7 game start, two bad games and PC shuts it down and goes run first. I’d be pissed too. If he’s traded I’m looking forward to watching Wilson featured in a modern high octane offense that’s built around him. I’m sure he’ll put a shellacking on the Seahawks. He doesn’t have to prove he can do it when he already has.

            Rodgers will have a couple bad games in a row, he’ll have a string of bad games even, doesn’t mean his coach stops green lighting the passing game when everyone knows Rodgers is the man in Green Bay. Wilson has earned that right. It’s Carroll not affording him the respect.

            And has Rodgers repeated going to the Super Bowl? Nope. Your analogy fails. He wasn’t even that sharp in 2019, didn’t mean his coach stopped green lighting the passing game. It’s going to be hard for Wilson to win playoff games when he’s always on the ground. Show me one QB that can. Green Bay has consistently drafted and fielded a top 10 offensive line that Wilson has had only once, in 2012 his rookie year.

          • art thiel

            The O-line deficit is something we’ve all seen and talked about, but it took until last month before Wilson went public with his complaints. I don’t fault him. But he did breach the protocol of protecting the team. For him to stay, Carroll and Wilson have to meet and concede points to the other. Hard to do. Not impossible.

          • eyeroq

            That means one of them has to step up and be the bigger man to initiate such talks. I believe that onus is on Carroll based on what Wilson has already said publicly, that he likes the Seahawks and wants to return … but! He hasn’t demanded a trade. It’s up to Pete to prevent Wilson from getting to the point of demanding a trade.

          • art thiel

            GB has had more resources, especially in the O-line, the past three seasons than the Seahawks, and Rodgers still fired his head coach.

          • art thiel

            Without his good looks, Brad Pitt is ugly.

          • eyeroq

            I see it as the opposite. It’s going to be up to Pete. Wilson has clearly left the door open to returning, but only if Pete makes some accommodations. My fear is that Pete is too stubborn and has been taking Wilson for granted for too long to concede to taking his input. I think it’ll be a shame if Pete ends up driving his superstar QB out of town in the prime of his career. Look how that worked out for Belichick. It threatens to define Pete’s legacy if that’s what ends up happening. Especially if Wilson thrives elsewhere, Pete will be known for not being able to make it work.

            But unfortunately, the way it’s going right now doesn’t make me optimistic that Pete will see the light without Paul around to offer him a reality check. But the ball is in his court. That’s what his agent meant when he said he’d like to return but … Pete’s gotta be willing to build the offense around Wilson and the pass or he’ll take his considerable talents elsewhere.

          • art thiel

            The hard-to-answer question is whether Carroll can accommodate some of what Wilson wants without ratcheting up the turnover risk.

        • art thiel

          As I wrote, I think it’s more likely than not that he’ll return for season, but it’s closer to 50-50 than I would gave guessed. Don’t discount the significance that the Seahawks bosses are pissed off about going public.

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      • art thiel

        It’s not weird at all. It’s the only tool he has to get the Seahawks to see things his way. He’s had these grievances for more than just this season, and he feels little heard. He’s stopped short of asking for a trade, although that could change. His laments about the offense are shared by many fans, which makes no fundamental difference in the process, but does count in wanting to retain some cred in Seattle. Neither he nor the Seahawks gain much by public conversation except to break a stalemate.

        • Tman

          Begging the question what would Deshaun Watson gain coming to the Seahawks?

          • jafabian

            Playoffs. And playoff bonuses. The Seahawks playoff history is much more consistent that Houston’s.

          • Husky73

            Good Kraken seats.

          • art thiel

            Someone running the franchise not named McNair.

    • art thiel

      Bet on sports? You must be kidding.

      • Husky73

        The over-under on the Mariners is 76.

        • Jackie Fullwood

          Get $192 p hour from Google!…~a638~ Yes this is best since I just got my first paycheck of $24413 and this was just of a one week… I have also purchased my BMW M5 right after this payment…~a638~ it is really great job I have ever had and you won’t for-give yourself if you do not check it >>>> ❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤

  • Alan Harrison

    I can’t imagine Russell Wilson is going anywhere, with 39 million reasons to support that. But if you wanna play quarterback-quarousel, the Jets and the WFT make more sense. But it would have to be after June 1, which is after the draft. WFT has no QB on the roster and it’s an easy commute to NYC. Plus, it’s near his hometown in VA. They’d have to make a pre-deal with SEA choosing their first 4 picks this year and make that part of the trade. Maybe add a starting CB. The Jets have the #2 pick and Sam Darnold. Justin Fields could run this kind of offense, although Dwayne Haskins’ ineffectiveness makes me wonder if an OSU QB can make it. And even after some time, no one knows how good/bad Darnold is. In either case, players would have to come over as well.

    Which means that Russell Wilson isn’t going anywhere.

    • art thiel

      I tend to agree he stays, but as you pointed out, lots of teams can make a play beyond the final four that the Seahawks might see as transformative — after a one-year setback due to the $39M.

  • 1coolguy

    I wrote a Wilson for Lawrence trade last month in this column and was lambasted. Whatever.
    It makes even more sense now that Schott is with the Jags.
    The debiitating cap hit makes this almost a nonstarter, but at the same time, Lawrence is a franchise QB who will be with the Hawks longer than RW, from today, if he proves out.
    And as mentioned, PC does well with young players, so would he and JS jump in for a restart? Having big cap space in 2 years could be irresistible.

    • art thiel

      Lots of elements in play here, and the Seahawks have boxed themselves in a corner, needing both picks and cap room to re-make the roster. Teams more desperate for cred than SEA, like JAX, could make a compelling offer.

    • LarryLurex70

      I didn’t catch your ahead-of-its-time armchair GM proposal as it happened. But, I’m thinking you’re feeling it’s definitely worthy of a big cookie now?

      • 1coolguy

        If this is your best, retire, please.

        • LarryLurex70


  • JoeBlow

    RW is passive aggressive.

    • art thiel

      True. Your point?

      • JoeBlow

        Those type of people drive me crazy! Other than that, none.

    • LarryLurex70

      Image is everything.

  • Husky73

    Jake Browning is available……

    • art thiel

      As always.

  • woofer

    The great unknown in this fantasy is how Urban Meyers sees it. He inherited the Lawrence at #1 scenario from his predecessors, so he’s not psychologically committed to it. Now that he’s got Wilson’s old offensive coaches on board, it may occur to him that the only thing missing is Wilson.

    • art thiel

      Good point. As a rookie NFL coach beholden to a long-suffering owner, he is vulnerable to pressure to do the sooner-than-later thing. Although Lawrence could be as good a rookie as was Wilson.

  • Mark Stratton

    Is there any way, in this scenario, that the Jags could take on some of the dead money hit this year?

    • art thiel

      There is a way that Wilson could pay back some of his bonus money, as long as the trading partner agreed to pay it to him post June 1. I’m not sure whether there is precedent.

  • Mark Stratton

    Here’s the trade: Jacksonville restructures LG Andrew Norwell turning the bulk of 2021 and 2022 into bonus which stays on their books. Norwell plus the first overall pick, plus round 2 and 3 picks for Wilson. Seahawks address several needs and Schneider can be a bit freer to push other spending into next year.

    • Mark Stratton

      Now that the Hawks have cut Dunlap maybe the Bears would include Mack with a restructure and pre-paid two year salary

      • art thiel

        Mack is in decline, and the Bears don’t have enough quality resources for SEA’s demands.

    • art thiel

      Not a bad plan, although I think JAX will not be so generous because they will argue Lawrence is a generational talent. The Seahawks will counter that people said the same thing about Ryan Leaf and JaMarcus Russell.

  • tor5

    The 12 part of me wants to ignore all this and pretend everything is gonna be ok, but you make a lot of interesting points, Art. Another reason for the Hawks to pursue something like this is that it would seem to change the balance of power a bit. Right now Wilson’s no-trade clause gives him the upper hand, but if the Hawks actually offer him a trade to a non-preferred team and he declines, any further complaining would be prima-donna-ish and tarnish is carefully honed image. That is, by pursuing this, it could either work out, or at least attach more of a public-image cost if Wilson chose to remain disgruntled.

    • art thiel

      If Wilson and Carroll patch it up for ’21, I think both of them have enough self-awareness to put hard feelings aside until the season is under way. If it goes south early, all bets are off regarding the assignment of blame.

  • DJ

    Art – Nice survey of the world of possibilities….A little dream scenario of Trevor Lawrence thrown in for fun. While I firmly believe that Russ’ recent distraction is all about pushing for more protection while given a chance, the point you make regarding free agent attraction to the Seahawks may prove to loom very large negatively in the upcoming free agent shopping event. Unless of course some sort of statement of accord is released by the Seahawks front office & the Wilson camp in short order (start listening……now!). With little to offer due to their standings with respect to the salary cap, and difficulty in retaining existing free agents, the Seahawks were already going to be challenged to have their pick of free agent offensive linemen that Russ desires. I hope that this attention-o-rama doesn’t come to bite both Russell and the Seahawks in their behinds.

    • art thiel

      The O-line deficiency is certainly visible to all, and an easy point of agreement. When to go up-tempo, when to go on 4th-and-1, are tougher decisions to spot from outside the huddle and headset.

      But the Seahawks’ unsettled QB siituation will impact the Seahawks starting March 17.

  • Chris Alexander

    Wilson to Miami makes MUCH more sense than Wilson to Jacksonville. (IMO)

    Seattle could probably get the #3 pick, both of Miami’s 2nd round picks (#35 + #50), and their 3rd round pick (#81) AND last year’s #5 pick, QB Tua Tagovailoa. If Seattle didn’t want Tua (which could certainly be the case), Miami could probably be persuaded to include their 2022 (or 2023) 1st round pick instead.

    If Seattle has Tua then trading back from #3 adds additional draft capital. Sure, OT Penei Sewell is tempting at #3, but OT Christian Darrisaw in the 10-15 range (with the additional assets from trading back) is probably the better move.

    If Seattle DOESN’T have Tua then they use #3 on either Justin Fields or Zach Wilson. Personally, I think replacing Russell Wilson with Zach Wilson would be a GREAT move . . . if Seattle ends up trading RW3.

    Honestly though, I’d rather have Tua + the ability to move back with the #3 pick (maybe 2 or 3 times, depending on who Seattle were targeting in the 1st round).

    Either way, the 2 second round picks, especially #35, would be HUGE. Guard Wyatt Davis will probably be available at #35 and Center Landon Dickerson might be available at #50. Personally, Dickerson would be the lineman that I’d target in Round 2 if I were Seattle – partly because he’s a game-changer, but also because I like Georgia’s Ben Cleveland more than I like Wyatt Davis and Seattle could (probably) wait until pick #81 to grab Ben Cleveland.

    Anyway . . .

    Fun thoughts, but I don’t really think Seattle will trade Russ this offseason. I think they probably SHOULD; but I don’t think they WILL.

    • eyeroq

      I’d rather have Zach Wilson than Tua I just don’t think they’d be able to trade for him as the #2 pick in the draft. I also don’t think RW has any intention of going to Miami and Ciara has nixed the idea anyway.

      • art thiel

        Wilson will go where he can be in charge of an offense with a good chance to be top-5. Geography is far secondary. Obviously a Chicago winter doesn’t scare him.

        • eyeroq

          Ciara is really pushing Chicago according to the guys on Pat McAfee’s show which Wilson made an appearance on to air his grievances.

    • art thiel

      Nice work, Chris. The MIA scenario is at least as plausible as JAX. Getting Tua, whom I think has serious upside, will work for new OC Waldron.

      As I wrote, I think Wilson stays this year. I also think there’s a dynamic in play that has yet to be made public, and not sure what it is.

  • Ed Walsh

    You’re a fun read, Mr. Thiel. A lot of your reader’s comments as well. Would only add, RW stays healthy. Always. Despite the pounding. By his on-field sliding actions and workout preparation. RG III, and a certain retired Indianapolis Colt QB, didn’t last, yeah? RW has good reason to value his health, it is a good part of his winning record, and I would submit his own actions justify a bit of his current stance.

    • art thiel

      Thanks, Ed. Yes, Wilson is justified in some of his lamentations, and is remarkably shrewd in self-preservation. But he also must take responsibility for inducing hits with hanging onto the ball awaiting slow-developing plays. To my knowledge, he hasn’t done that publicly, other than the generic, “I can play better too.”

      • Ed Walsh


  • Kraken

    “The idea comes from Tony Softli, a longtime NFL executive and former Huskies star who contributes to 950 KJR radio, with whom I chatted on his Pylon & Sticks podcast.”

    Think again.

    Kraken • 2 months ago
    Trade “Let Russ Cook” to the Jaguars for the number one pick so we can get a real quarterback like Trevor Lawrence in here, not an overpaid has-been who holds the ball forever.