BY Art Thiel 09:42PM 03/16/2021

Thiel: Griffins leave for JAX, no dealings for Russ

Bears’ signing of Andy Dalton solves the final QB problem for the four teams deigned by Russell Wilson as desirable. So are Seahawks safe yet? Well, he could demand a trade.

Shaquem and Shaquill Griffin attended the NFL draft together in Dallas in 2018. / nfl.com

There is a declarative stat emerging from the first two days of NFL free agency.

Russell Wilson is oh-for-four.

The signing Tuesday by Chicago of free agent Andy Dalton, 33, to a one-year, $10 million deal to be the Bears’ latest placeholder quarterback, represents the fourth and final team to move on from Wilson’s list, to which he would agree to be traded.

The Dallas Cowboys re-signed Dak Prescott.

The New Orleans Saints filled in behind the retiring Drew Brees by restructuring the contract of Taysom Hill and re-signing Jameis Winston.

The Oakland Raiders have said publicly they’re happy with QB Derek Carr.

The Seahawks apparently have said the same three words to all four would-be suitors:

Oh. Hell. No.

The Bears were “very, very aggressive,” reporter Ian Rapoport said Tuesday afternoon on the NFL Network. “General manager John Schneider wouldn’t budge.” Adam Schefter of ESPN described the Bears as having “a very aggressive pursuit,” and that “Seattle is not trading him at this time.’’

That seems to have slammed the door hinge-less on the unexpected drama. Yet . . . “at this time”?

This is still the NFL. Franchise quarterbacks are still precious. He still can be traded.

Tuesday’s developments don’t necessarily mean that Wilson’s many fans around the region can exhale.

It meant the four teams Wilson preferred IF the Seahawks made the decision to trade the face of the franchise, could no longer wait. They had to get their rosters in order by the 1 p.m. Wednesday deadline to be compliant with this year’s $182.5 million salary cap.

Since the Seahawks and the rest of the NFL are under the same obligation, it is up to Wilson to respond to the oh-fer.

He can accept that he will continue in Seattle through at least 2021 on a contract that runs through 2023. Or he could pull a Deshaun Watson.

As with the Texans quarterback trying to escape a dysfunctional franchise, Wilson could demand a trade and risk becoming, for many, the bad guy.

Wednesday, teams can begin to sign free agents, as well as continue to try to trade for Wilson and his $19 million base salary in 2021. But any trade also means, prior to June 1, that the Seahawks would have to take a $39 million hit — signing-bonus proceeds already paid to him — in a single year of 2021 instead of spread out over three years.

The dead-money blow would all but capsize the Seahawks season. They would be severely limited in the ability to sign free agents or extend the deals of current players. Since Wilson has a no-trade clause, he can limit Seattle’s trade partners, which would make tougher Schneider’s job to improve the team’s personnel, or at least make it whole.

How likely is the possibility?

Probably small, because the final card to play in such a potential stalemate is a sit-out, which is what Watson has told people he’s prepared to do.

If he did so for the season, as Pittsburgh Steelers RB Le’Veon Bell did in 2018,  Watson would lose millions in salary and givebacks. But in the case of Wilson, who can afford the financial losses, it would cost him games. That’s the coin of his realm — winning games and creating stats that will bring him Tom Brady-like attention and influence.

That worst-case scenario would be crippling for all parties. It’s hard to imagine that reason wouldn’t prevail on both sides to repair the breach. Then again, it was hard to imagine the circumstances that brought the situation to its current place.

Meanwhile, the Seahawks’  principal roster news to Tuesday was bad — twin brothers Shaquill and Shaquem Griffin are taking their talents and endearing story to Jacksonville, or as it is quickly becoming known, Baja Seattle.

CB Shaquill, a free agent, agreed to a three-year deal with the Jaguars worth up to $44.5 million, $29 million guaranteed. LB Shaquem, a restricted free agent who was not tendered an offer by Seattle, will get an offer from the Jags, who play about 3½ hours from the family home in St. Petersburg.

The Jags under rookie pro head coach Urban Meyer have three former Seahawks assistant coaches — Darrell Bevell, Brian Schottenheimer and Brian Schneider. The Griffins will join 2020 Seahawks players RB Carlos Hyde and WR Phillip Dorsett. And the Jags are booked to play in Seattle this season.

Who would have believed a game against Jacksonville, football’s worst team, would be a big deal?

Shaquill, 25, ranked by Pro Football Focus as the No. 7 free agent corner, and No. 42 free agent overall, played 12 games and wasn’t quite as effective as he was in 2019, when he was a Pro Bowl alternate. He’s been a regular since he was drafted in 2017’s third round, but had few moments of game-breaking impact.

Reports say that the Seahawks made a serious offer to keep him, but the post-season speculation all along was that the club couldn’t afford market rate for a proven corner.

Shaquem, taken in the fifth round of the 2018 draft to much acclaim for his perseverance,  played mostly on special teams. His scrimmage time was limited not because of the hand lost to amputation as a child but because his 230-pound size was not enough for an NFL linebacker. Nevertheless, his NFL presence made him a national beacon for children and adults with birth disabilities.

Shaquill’s departure probably incentivized the Seahawks to dive into the market Monday afternoon by agreeing to terms with former 49ers CB Ahkello Witherspoon, according to NFL Network.

A 6-2, 195-pound, third-round draft pick in 2017 out of Colorado, Witherspoon in 2020 backed up Richard Sherman on the left side, and missed five games with a foot injury. In the Niners’ Super Bowl year of 2019, he started opposite Sherman for eight games.

Witherspoon’s arrival raises a question as to whether the Seahawks will bring back CB Quinton Dunbar, also a free agent. He went on injured reserve in week 11 to finish a hobbled Seattle season that began with an arrest on robbery charges at a Florida gambling party. No charges were filed, and he was released.

Among free agents, PFF ranks Dunbar 60th, Witherspoon 142nd. If both are healthy, they will compete with veteran returnees D.J. Reed and Tre Flowers.

Later Monday night NFL Network reported the Seahawks finally made a move on one of their own, agreeing with restricted free agent DT Poona Ford on a two-year deal for up to $14 million. Ford gets $4.4 million this season — more than the expected $3.4 million second-round tender — and a chance for free agency at 27. He was No. 101 on PFF’s season-ending list of the NFL’s best 101 players in 2020.

Most teams anticipate a glut of players hitting the market on final cuts to comply with the reduced cap. Picking over the field may take weeks.

The eager aspiration for the Seahawks is to have no further opportunities for Wilson to break his oh-fer streak.

 


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YourThoughts

  • jafabian

    I’ll miss both the Griffins but understand the decision to let them walk. Shaquill may be about as good as he’s going to get. Though he had a career high 3 interceptions in 2020 he gave up 6 TD’s and QB’s didn’t seem afraid to throw on him though he did have 12 passes defensed in the 12 games he played and the pass defense overall became better when he returned from injury. Shaquem hasn’t moved beyond special teams and hasn’t been a standout. I thought playing for a former LB like Ken Norton would help his development. He could stand for a change in scenery and both will be playing near home. Wish the best for both.

    At this point the starting CB’s are Witherspoon and Flowers. Are they the kind of duo to give Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady pause? Can Poona Ford put pressure on them? The end of the week could be even bigger losses for the Hawks.

    • art thiel

      Patience.

      Dunbar can return, but the best holdover CB is Reed.

      I agree that Shaquill is average-at-best. JAX way overpaid. The twins will be missed as good people.

      • Ed Walsh

        Yes. On all three observations. But JAX will $ benefit a bit from these great kids feel-good story. I will miss them.

  • Bruce McDermott

    Glad for Poona. He earned it.

    • art thiel

      The definition of unsung. The entire Seahawks locker room is cheering that one.

      • Kimberly Rouse

        Get $192 per h from Google~a783~ Yes this can be best since I simply got my initial payroll check of $24413 and this was just of a one week…I have aslo purchased my good BMW M5 right after this payment…~a783~ it is really best job I have even had and you will not for~give yourself if you do not check it >>>> https://zilo.app/ijQpj ❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤

  • woofer

    Andy Dalton’s signing with Chicago makes this morning’s fantasy about a Sam Darnold deal slightly more plausible — it goes from maybe a 5% to a 7% chance. The bottom line question may be whether there is a viable Wilson play sitting on the table come June 1 when the salary cap hit becomes manageable. Selling Wilson on the Big Apple glamor life wouldn’t be too hard if the Jets under Saleh started to look respectable. That picture should be much clearer by June 1.

    One of the more interesting creatures in the NFL Zoo is the high round 1 quarterback, drafted by a crappy team to be its savior, who flames out when thrown into battle with too little experience and no support. Has he been ruined forever by a combination of psychological and physical damage plus all the bad habits that operating in survival mode brings with it? Many good quarterbacks have never come back from this early trauma. Maybe the most notable exception was Jim Plunkett, Heisman winner at Stanford, number 1 pick by the Patriots where he started fast and faded even faster, later traded to and released by the FortyNiners, and ultimately signed for peanuts as a backup by the Raiders. But once he got back into the game with a decent team, he won two Super Bowls.

    The argument for Darnold being able to make a Plunkett-type turnaround is that he has the natural talent to succeed and appears to have enough mental durability not to have had his initial failure make him into a basket case. Maybe an odd poetic justice will feature Schneider getting back from the Jets all the high draft picks expended on Jamal Adams when he trades Wilson for Darnold.

    • Colleen Wright

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    • art thiel

      Your point about psychology hits on the most immeasurable element in a forecasting success in an NFL QB. It’s impossible to test pre-draft for that sort of resilience. The classic example was the Peyton Manning/Ryan Leaf draft. The entire NFL was divided on who was No. 1. As we know, the results could not have been more disparate.

      So much comes so fast to a rookie QB that it’s no shame when some take longer than others. Seattle with Wilson hit the motherlode; Cleveland looks like the Mayfield decision will pay off, even if year 1 wasn’t great.

      What’s changed is increased intensity of our culture’s need for instant gratification.

      • Husky73

        If you would have asked any waiter, waitress, housekeeper, cab driver or airline attendant….Manning or Leaf? 100% would have answered Manning.

        • art thiel

          That’s because they all lived in Seattle and went to UW.

          • eyeroq

            I think a lot of cougs if they were being honest would have said Manning too. It’s not like Leaf didn’t wear his immaturity like a loud and boisterous badge of honor during his tenure in Pullman. Either Price shielded him or the teams that were supposed to do due diligence really dropped the ball, maybe some combination of both.

            Because the stories that emerged of his behavior at Pullman that the public didn’t learn until AFTER it became clear he was far too immature to cut it in the league … demonstrated a gaping level of professional negligence I think. One of my colleagues who attended Washington State while Leaf played absolutely loathed him despite being a rabid cougar alum. The stories of an overbearing obnoxious bully who no one could stand could not have been difficult to unearth by teams looking into him or even the national football press if they cared enough to go digging in a cow town like Pullman. They clearly didn’t.

  • Alan Harrison

    Have the Hawks redone RW’s contract yet? I know they unilaterally can move salary to signing bonus to lessen the cap hit. If not, why not? To keep the trade portal open on June 1? Wise use of the Dunlap money might come in the form of Rodney Hudson from the Raiders, no?

    • Mark Stratton

      I think they’ll be reluctant to redo Russ’s deal because that would create an even bigger dead money hit if they have to trade him next year

    • art thiel

      They haven’t done it publicly, which isn’t to say they haven’t outlined multiple scenarios in case cap room is needed for one or more blockbusters that could include a Wilson trade.

      Hudson was taken today for a mere third-rounder, which the Seahawks did not have.

  • Husky73

    Darn…John Ross signed with the Giants, I was hoping………

    • jafabian

      Hawks could get Pettis for next to nothing.

      • Husky73

        And Pettis too goes to the G-men.

        • jafabian

          IMO he’d fill a need the Hawks have at KR/PR. Anything he could do at WR would be gravy.

    • art thiel

      You are so purple I can see it from here.

      • Husky73

        Victory the cry of Washington….except for basketball. We’re a volleyball, rowing and softball school.

  • Hockeypuck

    What is becoming increasingly clear is that – in spite of the Seahawks delusion – no one believes the “culture” that Coach Wonka loves to blather about isn’t (was it ever?) quite the drawing card he thinks it is. And with the ongoing RW imbroglio and mismanaged salary cap, good luck on any notable, difference-making FA coming our way. And also notice we end having to overpay for any pedestrian space-eaters willing to sign on (re: Gerald Everett $6mm). And our own FAs realize that anywhere other than here is a notable uptick. Goodbye Chris Carson, best of luck KJ Wright – better times await…

    • tor5

      Hawks have been 1st or 2nd in their division for 9 years running. Mistakes have been made, but “mismanagement”? No.

  • Alan Harrison

    Three picks left. Fewer chances to McDowell it.

    • jafabian

      I’m assuming Schneider will trade some players for picks. Then trade those picks for twice the number in lower rounds. They might not pick in the first three rounds but having 7 picks in the 7th round is like gold!