Seahawks Looking Ahead To "Extraordinary Opportunity" In The Wake Of Russell Wilson Trade

Seahawks Looking Ahead To “Extraordinary Opportunity” In The Wake Of Russell Wilson Trade

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While the Seahawks moved on from two franchise icons this month, they aren't planning on taking a step back in 2022.

The Seahawks made two of the most significant roster moves in their recent history over the last week, releasing linebacker Bobby Wagner and trading quarterback Russell Wilson, a pair of franchise icons who came into the NFL together as members of Seattle's 2012 draft class, and who will likely both end up in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

But while the Seahawks will certainly look different in 2022 without those two on the field, those moves should not be mistaken for a sign that the Seahawks are in rebuilding mode and aren't focused on winning.

Yes, Wagner and Wilson are not players who can easily be replaced, but those moves do give the Seahawks considerable resources to work with over the next two offseasons both in terms of draft capital and salary cap space.

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"This is an extraordinary opportunity for us to help our franchise, which is what we're here to do," Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. "We're doing everything we can to make it as good as we can possibly make it."

Said general manager John Schneider, "(We have) so much respect for Bobby and Russell, everything the two of those guys have done, and still continue to do in our community. Both guys are going to be missed, obviously, but we're excited to be moving forward… These are really difficult decisions to make, and we wish both of those guys the very, very best. They'll be missed personally and professionally."

Later, when Carroll was asked what he was excited about heading into 2022, he said, "Winning freaking football games, and a bunch of them. Last year kind of sucked… We're just going right back to business. We're going for it. Everybody that's coming here, that's going to be a part of this is well aware. That's the only way we're looking at it; let's go right now."

The Seahawks are excited about this offseason not just because of the moves they can make with their added draft picks and salary cap space, but also because of the moves they're already making with free agency starting this week. As Carroll and general manager John Schneider mentioned in their press conference Wednesday, the Seahawks have re-signed or agreed to terms with four players who were set to become free agents, safety Quandre Diggs, defensive tackle Al Woods, tight end Will Dissly and cornerback Sidney Jones IV, and they've also agreed to terms with three free agents from other teams so far, cornerback Artie Burns, outside linebacker Uchenna Nwosu and Center Austin Blythe.

"There's a lot that's happened and a lot that's going on that excites the hell out of us," Carroll said. "This is a great time for us, this is a great challenge for us. This is that challenging time of year, and yeah, we're faced with some challenges, but all we see is what what's going to go the right way. What's going to happen for us. We look at this just like every other year. We're trying to build a championship freakin' football team right now. There's no future, we'll do it somewhere down the road. We don't think like that, we've never thought like that, and we're not going to think like that now."

Wednesday's press conference, which came after the start of the new league year and the Wilson trade becoming official, began with Carroll speaking at length about his philosophy and about second chances for players and about his excitement for the future. In all, Carroll spoke for nearly 12 minutes without taking a question before turning things over to Schneider. It might have been Carroll's longest opening statement since his introductory press conference after he was hired in 2010, and it's fitting that there's a connection between those two moments, because in some ways there are parallels between that time and this offseason.

"It goes right back to where we started with our program," Carroll said. "We were the youngest team to win the Super Bowl in history. We remember that, there's some make up to that, there's some design to that, and it's exciting to us to understand we're in that.

"We've got to make this the most competitive roster in the NFL, that's what we're out to do, and that means all the way through the ranks. That means you're going to get young, but we're going to mix it with a group of experienced players as well. That's the chemistry we have to create."

Getting younger, and even having uncertainty at quarterback, does not mean the Seahawks can't win now, however.

"We're going right back at it," Carroll said. "There hasn't been a step backwards. We're going forward to do it right now, and everybody that's coming in here is coming in here to do that right now."

Carroll was also quick to point out the role that Jody Allen, chair of the Seattle Seahawks, had in Schneider and Carroll making this trade and leading the Seahawks in a new direction.

"We've had tremendous support from our ownership," Carroll said. "Jody was incredibly tuned in. She supported us, challenged us, demanded that we were sure what we were doing and we could account for all of the thoughts and the background and all of the work that we needed to do to put this together. But when it came right down to it, she said 'What I see this doing to you guys, John, you're back in your wheelhouse and Pete, you're back in your wheelhouse.' And she's stating, knowing that we have so many opportunities to work and deal and wheel our creative approach to what we do, and make really positive things happen."

In a statement, Allen expressed that confidence in Schneider and Carroll, saying, "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. 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."

Now the Seahawks turn to the future and how best, as Carroll put, making Seattle's roster the most competitive in the NFL. It will take a lot to reach that goal, but having three picks in the top 41 this year and two first-round and two second-round picks in 2023, as well as a lot more cap space, is a great place to start.

"It's enormous," Schneider said of the newly acquired draft capital. "To be able to get the ninth pick, and then to be able to get to 40 and 41 for us was big, especially in this draft. We're going to pick eight times—I say that, I have no idea how many times we're going to pick—but it's really big. And then especially next year when the majority of the cap space comes into effect with Russell's contract, and then and then the draft capital next year as well with the two ones and the two twos, four picks in the first two rounds."

And whether its by acquiring a quarterback in the draft or signing a free agent or by having one of the current players on the roster win the job, the Seahawks know one of the main jobs this offseason will be finding a new starting quarterback.

Drew Lock, a former second-round pick who was part of the Wilson trade, will be a part of the competition, but expect the Seahawks to continue to add to the mix there.

"We'll continue to explore our options, but we have a ton of faith in Drew, we're excited about it," Schneider said. "We're excited about a change of scenery for him. I know a couple of my buddies who were trying to acquire him all last spring into the fall. He's a guy that in my opinion the media has beat down a little bit. We're excited to get him into our culture with our coaching staff and we'll continue to look for guys to compete with him. Geno (Smith) did a nice job for us, there's a number of guys who are still available, and we'll continue to work through that."

Smith, who is currently a free agent, would also be in the mix should he re-sign, as will Jacob Eason, who was claimed off waiver last season, and as Schneider noted, the Seahawks will keep exploring options there. And whoever is on the roster come training camp, Carroll expects to see an open competition, much like the one that played out in 2012 with Wilson winning the job as a rookie.

"Geno knows our offense the best, if he comes back to us, he has an opportunity to run the whole thing, we saw him do it during the season," Carroll said. "We've got to bring Drew along and see how far he can take it, and the competition is on. It isn't any different than when Matt Flynn and Russell Wilson went at it, same kind of deal. We'll set up a schedule and we'll figure out all of the guys—and we're going to give Jake Eason a shot as well, we want to see where he fits into it. It was a three-man competition if you remember back then (in 2012), and we'll see how it goes."

And while the Seahawks are now looking into the future knowing things will change at quarterback, they also will do so wishing only for the best for the player who is leaving for a new opportunity.

"We wish him the freakin' very best," Carroll said of Wilson. "He did awesome stuff for us here in Seattle. He was a great player for us, but now his second opportunity, look what he's going to do with it. He's going to fly, he's going to do great stuff. We support him and wish him well and all of that."

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"It's enormous," Schneider said of the newly acquired draft capital. "To be able to get the ninth pick, and then to be able to get to 40 and 41 for us was big, especially in this draft. We're going to pick eight times—I say that, I have no idea how many times we're going to pick—but it's really big. And then especially next year when the majority of the cap space comes into effect with Russell's contract, and then and then the have the draft capital next year as well with the two ones and the two twos, four picks in the first two rounds."

And whether it's by acquiring a quarterback in the draft or signing a free agent or by having one of the current players on the roster win the job, the Seahawks know one of the main jobs this offseason will be finding a new starting quarterback.

Drew Lock, a former second-round pick who was part of the Wilson trade, will be a part of the competition, but expect the Seahawks to continue to add to the mix there.

"We'll continue to explore our options, but we have a ton of faith in Drew, we're excited about it," Schneider said. "We're excited about a change of scenery for him. I know a couple of my buddies who were trying to acquire him all last spring into the fall. He's a guy that in my opinion the media has beat down a little bit. We're excited to get him into our culture with our coaching staff and we'll continue to look for guys to compete with him. Geno (Smith) did a nice job for us, there's a number of guys who are still available, and we'll continue to work through that."

Smith, who is currently a free agent, would also be in the mix should he re-sign, as will Jacob Eason, who was claimed off waivers last season, and as Schneider noted, the Seahawks will keep exploring options there. And whoever is on the roster come training camp, Carroll expects to see an open competition, much like the one that played out in 2012 with Wilson winning the job as a rookie.

"Geno knows our offense the best, if he comes back to us, he has an opportunity to run the whole thing, we saw him do it during the season," Carroll said. "We've got to bring Drew along and see how far he can take it, and the competition is on. It isn't any different than when Matt Flynn and Russell Wilson went at it, same kind of deal. We'll set up a schedule and we'll figure out all of the guys—and we're going to give Jake Eason a shot as well, we want to see where he fits into it. It was a three-man competition if you remember back then (in 2012), and we'll see how it goes."

And while the Seahawks are now looking into the future knowing things will change at quarterback, they also will do so wishing only for the best for the player who is leaving for a new opportunity.

"We wish him the freaking very best," Carroll said of Wilson. "He did awesome stuff for us here in Seattle. He was a great player for us, but now his second opportunity, look what he's going to do with it. He's going to fly, he's going to do great stuff. We support him and wish him well and all of that."

Check out photos of Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson from throughout his ten seasons in Seattle.

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