NFL News & Analysis

Denver Broncos trade for Seattle Seahawks QB Russell Wilson

Glendale, Arizona, USA; Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson (3) takes the field for pregame warmups against the Arizona Cardinals in the first half at State Farm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rob Schumacher-Arizona Republic Nfl Seattle Seahawks At Arizona Cardinals

The Seattle Seahawks are trading nine-time Pro Bowl quarterback Russell Wilson to the Denver Broncos, according to multiple reports.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter was first to report the news on Tuesday afternoon. The deal is pending a physical and Wilson’s approval, per Schefter.

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The Seahawks will acquire two first-round picks, two second-round picks, a fifth-round pick, DI Shelby Harris, TE Noah Fant and QB Drew Lock, according to CBS' Allan Bell.

This news comes one week after Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll said Seattle had “no intention” of trading its star quarterback. Wilson said after the season that he planned to win multiple Super Bowls in Seattle.

The trade agreement also comes on the same day Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers elected to stay in Green Bay rather than retiring or requesting a trade.

Russell Wilson: PFF grade and rank since 2012 (postseason included)
Season PFF Grade Rank
2021 73.9 18th of 38
2020 90.5 6th of 38
2019 91.9 1st of 39
2018 88.9 6th of 39
2017 78.8 11th of 41
2016 83.8 6th of 37
2015 82.1 6th of 40
2014 74.5 14th of 39
2013 83.8 6th of 43
2012 90.6 2nd of 39

Click here to view Russell Wilson's career in PFF Premium Stats

In 2013, Wilson defeated the Denver Broncos to win Super Bowl 48 with the Seahawks. He was named a second-team All-Pro in 2019 and is one of the most accomplished quarterbacks of the last decade since being selected out of Wisconsin in the third round of the 2012 NFL Draft.

Sources PFF spoke to midway through the 2021 season were convinced the Seahawks would trade Wilson this offseason, and that it wouldn’t necessarily have to come at the quarterback’s request. The buzz at last week’s NFL Scouting Combine was that Wilson would stay put, though Carroll’s wording when asked about a potential trade still seemed non-committal.

Wilson finished his Seahawks career completing 65% of his passes for 37,059 yards with 292 touchdowns and 87 interceptions. He added 4,689 yards on 846 carries with 23 rushing touchdowns.

Since entering the league in 2012, Wilson leads the NFL in completions (298), yards (10,159) and touchdowns (105) on passes thrown 20 or more yards downfield. For reference, that deep passing touchdown total since 2012 is over 40 more than Denver's quarterback room collectively over that span.

The Denver Broncos have fielded one of the league's worst passing attacks in the years since Peyton Manning's historically great 2013 season.

A step up for the Denver Broncos

Having fielded one of the worst quarterback situations in the league over the last few years, the Denver Broncos will enter the 2022 NFL season with renewed hope at the game's most important position.

Yes, the longtime Seattle Seahawk is coming off a down year, but there's a reason for that — he suffered a finger injury in Week 5 of 2021 and rushed back to the field. Before the injury, Wilson was producing at his normal elite level, generating a 90.3 PFF grade — second among all quarterbacks — with 13 big-time throws and zero turnover-worthy plays.

After his Week 10 return, Wilson posted a 61.4 PFF grade with 13 big-time throws to 12 turnover-worthy plays.

The 2021 season was the lowest-graded of Wilson's 10-year NFL career. With a clean bill of health, one can reasonably assume Wilson will bounce back to some extent in 2022. In the three years prior to 2021, Wilson ranked sixth or higher at the position in PFF grade.

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FANTASY FOOTBALL OUTLOOK

Wilson wasn't exactly at a loss for weapons in Seattle, but he's now blessed with arguably the league's deepest crop of pass-catching talent.

It's easy to imagine Courtland Sutton and Tim Patrick running underneath Wilson's patented moon balls, while Jerry Jeudy provides the sort of route-running goodness that might just spark memories of Russ' old BFF Doug Baldwin. Throw in the presence of K.J. Hamler, electric second-year RB Javonte Williams as well as plus-receiving tight end Albert Okwuegbunam, and it's fair to call this the most complete offense Wilson has ever had the privilege of playing with.

Quarterbacks have historically aged better than any other position in terms of maintaining high-end fantasy production. While Wilson's uneven play during the second half of 2021 was far from ideal, there are little to no questions surrounding his physical ability to continue operating at an elite level. The Broncos — PFF's 19th-highest-ranked offensive line in 2021 — also present an improvement over the Seahawks (25th) at the line of scrimmage. It's fair to wonder if Wilson will struggle to have the sort of high-end pass volume to put up some truly bonkers numbers; that doesn't mean the 33-year-old veteran won't have the opportunity to flirt with career-best efficiency in arguably his most fantasy-friendly situation yet.

Wilson is my fantasy QB7 ahead of 2022, behind only Josh Allen, Kyler Murray, Patrick Mahomes, Justin Herbert, Lamar Jackson and Joe Burrow at the moment. Jokes about Russ being the third-best QB in his own division aside: the Broncos are suddenly a legit title contender and figure to flirt with the league's top-10 scoring offenses for however long Russ wants to keep cooking.

— PFF Fantasy Analyst Ian Hartitz

BETTING OUTLOOK

Wilson immediately changes the landscape in a difficult AFC West, with division futures off the board pending their outcome in the quarterback carousel this offseason. Landing arguably the best option dramatically shifts their outlook from a +450 price up to +250, where they are now the second most likely team to win the division behind the Kansas City Chiefs. Kansas City sees a 10% drop in their implied probability moving from -175 down to -115 after the trade.

Bookmakers split the difference on the Broncos conference championship and Super Bowl outlooks the past two seasons, pricing them at a consensus number of +2,500 before the trade.

Without a significant upgrade at quarterback, they belonged among the league's worst teams, but the big splash in landing Russell Wilson shoots their Super Bowl implied probability up to 7.7% at +1,200 odds on DraftKings. They are now priced as the third most likely team to advance to the Super Bowl out of the AFC West.

— Betting Analyst Ben Brown

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