As a sense of unease and dysfunction hovers over the relationship between Russell Wilson and the Seahawks, a persistent question emerges regarding the aftermath of a potential trade.
If Wilson goes, who replaces him at quarterback?
The Seahawks don’t keep a highly-competent backup on the roster, surely due in part to the fact that Wilson never misses games. There’s also a vague notion that coach Pete Carroll’s “always compete” mantra doesn’t apply to the QB1 position. (It will be interesting to see whether that changes in 2021, if Wilson stays.) So the easy answer is to say the successor surely wouldn’t be Geno Smith or Danny Etling of Alex McGough, the other three quarterbacks currently on the roster.
Some have suggested that the Seahawks can trade Wilson only to a team that would be able to include in the compensation package the replacement for Wilson. That’s a bit confusing; it narrows the universe of potential destinations for Wilson, and it overlooks the fact that the Seahawks could perform a separate transaction to get the Wilson replacement.
It won’t be as easy as it would be if, for example, the Raiders send Derek Carr to Seattle or the Saints ship Taysom Hill to the Pacific Northwest, but the fact that Wilson’s new team can’t include a viable quarterback replacement option shouldn’t kill the deal.
The Seahawks could sign a free agent, like Cam Newton or Jameis Winston or Mitch Trubisky, or Jimmy Garoppolo if he’s cut by the 49ers. They could trade for someone, like Teddy Bridgewater or Sam Darnold. They could use the draft picks they acquire in a trade for Wilson to move up and draft one of the quarterbacks in the 2021 class. (Not having first-round picks of their own in 2021 or 2022 due to the Jamal Adams trade could make that harder.)
There’s something else the Seahawks could do, if they trade Wilson. They could finally give Colin Kaepernick (who is only one year older than Wilson) a full and fair workout, undeterred by the possibility that Kaepernick would divide the locker room on the question of whether he or Wilson should play. (In 2017, given the lingering presence of veterans who resented Wilson, that was a very real possibility.)
Regardless, the inability of Wilson’s new team to give the Seahawks a quick and easy plug-and-play replacement at quarterback shouldn’t be an impediment to a trade, if the Seahawks decide that the time has indeed come to move on.