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.
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.