In a lengthy report posted Wednesday, ESPN’s Brady Henderson explained Russell Wilson’s fractured relationship with the Seahawks, who traded their star to the Denver Broncos in the offseason.
“From my vantage point,” former Seahawks wide receiver Doug Baldwin told Henderson, “the divorce was inevitable and was many years in the making.”
Here are five takeaways from the report:
1. Wilson wanted to win MVP, but Seattle got conservative on offense
Although Wilson claimed never winning MVP hasn’t bothered him, that apparently wasn’t the case. Wilson believed the award eluded him in 2019 and 2020 because of Seattle’s conservative offense under head coach Pete Carroll.
Wrote Henderson about the 2019 season: “According to a source who spoke with the quarterback, Wilson was livid at how Carroll had taken his foot off the gas, believing it had cost him a chance to grab hold of the MVP race.”
Wilson got off to a hot start in 2020, but he was plagued by a stretch in which he had 10 turnovers in four games. Then Carroll took his foot off the gas on offense again.
“What are we doing here?” one source in the Seahawks’ front office remembers thinking at the time, per Henderson. “Are we trying to win games or are we trying to win MVP?”
2. Wilson getting sacked was a problem
Wilson also had issues with a lack of protection on the field from his offensive line. According to ESPN’s Stats and Information, defenses sacked him nearly 400 times — the most for any player during his first nine seasons. In 2021, Wilson told Dan Patrick that was “way too many” sacks.
3. Pete Carroll tried to mend the relationship
Carroll and Wilson didn’t always see eye to eye, but the head coach did not want to trade his quarterback. When it became clear the Seahawks faced an ultimatum from Wilson, Carroll finally caved, allowing Seattle to place him on the trading block.
4. The front office felt like he was declining
Carroll’s feelings may not have mattered because several front-office members believed Wilson was past his prime. One front-office source told Henderson: “I just felt like he’s a descending player.”
These critics felt Wilson’s production in 2021, which included a career-low 3,013 yards passing, validated their concerns.
5. The Seahawks wanted to draft Patrick Mahomes
The Seahawks had considered replacing Wilson before. In 2017, they were at pro days for Patrick Mahomes. (They attended the 2018 pro day of Josh Allen, too.) According to Henderson, Seattle wanted to take Mahomes if he were still available. This idea angered Wilson’s camp, creating cracks in the relationship.