The Russell Wilson era in Seattle is over after a decade that saw him establish himself as one of the greatest players in franchise history.
Wilson, a nine-time Pro-Bowler in 10 seasons as the Seahawks quarterback, joins the Denver Broncos in a trade that became official Wednesday with the start of the new league year.
The blockbuster deal sends from Denver to Seattle two first-round picks, No. 9 overall this year and a 2023 first-rounder; two second-round picks, No. 40 overall pick this year and a 2023 second-rounder, this year's fifth-round pick, tight end Noah Fant, quarterback Drew Lock and defensive end Shelby Harris. In addition to Wilson, the Seahawks will send a 2022 fourth-round pick to Denver.
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The deal means the Seahawks will reset at quarterback for the first time in a decade since Wilson, a third-round pick in the 2012 draft, won the starting job in training camp, then went on to start every game of his career for nine-plus seasons before a finger injury sidelined him for three games last season.
"While Russell made it clear he wanted this change, he made Seattle proud and we are grateful for his decade of leadership on and off the field," said Jody Allen, chair of the Seattle Seahawks. "We look forward to welcoming our new players and to everyone being fully engaged while working our hardest to win every single day. I trust our leadership to take us into the future, and know we all wish Russell the very best."
The Seahawks made the playoffs in Wilson's first season, then in 2013 he was part of the best season in franchise history as the Seahawks went 13-3 and won the Super Bowl for the first time in team history. The Seahawks returned to the Super Bowl the following season, and in total reached the postseason in eight of Wilson's 10 seasons in Seattle, posting a winning record every year prior to last season's 7-10 finish.
Wilson's 113 victories, postseason included, are the most in NFL history by a quarterback in his first 10 seasons, and in addition to all of those victories, he also rewrote the Seahawks record books over the course of his career setting 26 major franchise records, including most career and single season touchdowns (292, 40), passing yards (37,059, 4,219), completions (3,079, 384), 300-yard games (21, 5), highest passer rating (101.8, 110.9) and highest completion percentage (65.0, 68.8). Wilson's nine Pro-Bowl selections are tied for the most in team history with Hall of Fame left tackle Walter Jones, and his 11 NFC Player of the Week awards are the most in team history. Wilson also joined Peyton Manning as the only quarterbacks in NFL history to throw for 3,000 yards and 20 touchdowns in each of their first 10 seasons.
"This has always been a challenging time of year where we have consistently maintained a competitive approach to getting better as a team," said Head Coach Pete Carroll. "As Jody stated, Russ' desire in doing something different afforded the organization an opportunity to compete in multiple ways. He has always been the ultimate competitor whose leadership and consistency helped shape our culture. Our franchise has won a lot of games and we will always be grateful for the exciting moments and incredible records."
Said general manager John Schneider, "Russell has been a tremendous player, leader, and member of our organization since the day we drafted him in the third round in 2012. His tireless work ethic has helped make him one of the most successful QBs in NFL history and we thank him for his many contributions on the field and in the community.
"When it became evident that Russell was interested in playing elsewhere, we used that opportunity to explore the market, allowing us to acquire three quality players, tremendous draft capital, and create salary cap flexibility. We have a clear vision about the direction of this team, and this is an exciting time for our organization."
Ten years ago, when the Seahawks made Wilson, a supposedly too-short quarterback out of Wisconsin their third-round pick, Schneider declared, "He's phenomenal. We're really excited to get Russell in our program… He's extremely confident, he gains the trust of everyone around him. He's one of those guys who can tilt the room."
Sitting next to Schneider Carroll said, "Extraordinary player… This is such an incredible athlete who has extraordinary, historic success, done some things that people have never thought of doing before. And the fact that he is also such an extraordinary kid, he can handle all the pressure that he's going to be under and all the scrutiny that he's going to deal with. We think more than anybody else who was alive in the draft, this guy gives you a chance to have a great player. It's going to be really exciting to see what he can bring. All he's ever done is be great. It was a great pick for us, we're fired up about it."
Yet as excited as Carroll and Schneider were on that April evening, even they probably couldn't have predicted just how special the next decade would be for Wilson and the Seahawks.
Check out photos of Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson from throughout his ten seasons in Seattle.