Let's rewind to the spring of 2021. The Chicago Bears owned the 20th pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, but the quarterback position was in flux. Fans wanted Ryan Pace to draft a quarterback but didn't think anyone worth taking would fall to that point. Some thought Pace could trade up and get whoever might fall to the bottom of the top 10 picks and that's exactly what happened. I'll be honest though, I didn't expect that person to be Justin Fields.
Prior to the 2021 NFL Draft, there were rumors that the Seattle Seahawks wanted to move on from Russell Wilson. Wilson had a no-trade clause but made it known that he'd be willing to play for four teams — the Bears, Cowboys, Saints, and Raiders. Reports came out that Ryan Pace offered the Seahawks a large trade package that included three first-round picks, a third, and even some amount of veteran players. Wow, that is more than the Chicago Bears received in the Bryce Young trade.
It turns out that the general manager, John Schneider took the trade to the head coach, Pete Carroll, who essentially turned it down. Wilson would play out what becomes his final season with the Seahawks in 2021, while the Bears moved on to Fields. In 2022, the trade talks heated up again and the Seahawks ended up finding a trade partner in the Denver Broncos. The Broncos were not the only team involved in trade discussions though. Reports are the Commanders gave the best deal but Wilson wouldn't agree to waiving his no-trade clause. He agreed to go to Denver.
In the deal, the Seahawks received Drew Lock, Noah Fant, Shelby Harris, the Broncos' 2022 first-round pick, their 2022 second-round pick, and their fifth-round pick. The Broncos received Russell Wilson and the Seahawks fourth-round pick. I think it's clear that the Seahawks should have taken Poles up on his offer in 2021. Thank goodness they didn't as the Bears have now dodged a massive bullet. Denver also gave Wilson a massive five-year extension worth $245 million.
Since arriving in Denver in 2022, Russell Wilson and the Broncos have struggled. Nathaniel Hackett didn't last a full season and the Broncos went out and added Sean Payton as their head coach for 2023. Payton was under contract with the Saints still and it cost Denver their 2023 first-round pick and 2024 second-round pick. The Broncos received the Saints' 2024 third-round pick along with Payton. After a slow start, the Broncos and Russell Wilson have played better, just not quite good enough. The team is not likely to make the playoffs and has benched Wilson for the last two games.
Sean Payton is making it seem as though it was a football decision, but it has all to do with financials seeing if Russell Wilson is hurt to end the season and cannot pass a physical in the offseason, he will be guaranteed $37 million. Wilson has thrown for 685 yards, five touchdowns and only one interception over his last three games. He also has 31 rushing yards and a rushing TD during that span. Unfortunately, that wasn't good enough as the team is 1-2 in those games.
Rumors are now speculating the Broncos will move on from Wilson in the offseason. Should they elect to do so, it will cost them $85 million in dead cap. The team can spread that over two years if they designate him a post-June 1 cut. Either way you cut it, thank goodness the Seahawks didn't agree to Ryan Pace and the Chicago Bears original offer. Had that happened, the Bears could be in a very bad spot heading into 2024. Instead, they have financial flexibility coupled with solid draft capital. Whew!