Grading the Broncos blockbuster trade for Russell Wilson

SEATTLE, WASHINGTON - DECEMBER 05: Russell Wilson #3 of the Seattle Seahawks throws the ball during the first quarter against the San Francisco 49ers at Lumen Field on December 05, 2021 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images)
SEATTLE, WASHINGTON - DECEMBER 05: Russell Wilson #3 of the Seattle Seahawks throws the ball during the first quarter against the San Francisco 49ers at Lumen Field on December 05, 2021 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images) /

The Denver Broncos made a shocking blockbuster deal by trading for QB Russell Wilson from the Seattle Seahawks. This move stunned the football world and put the Broncos back on the quarterback map with the hope to be one of the premier teams in the AFC next season.

Russell Wilson has been one of the top quarterbacks in the NFL since entering the league in 2012. Wilson has been a staple during his time in Seattle, setting multiple franchise records and leading the Seahawks to a Super Bowl championship in 2014.

With this trade, the Seahawks now look to start in unfamiliar territory by looking directly down the re-build barrel.

Meanwhile, the Broncos have been on an exhausting hunt for a quarterback since Peyton Manning retired in 2016. For six years we have watched the Broncos trot out a hopeful solution, and each time it hasn’t gone to plan. Now, the Broncos finally have a quarterback who gives them a chance to contend with the heavyweight AFC, and boy, does it feel good.

Let’s take a dive into how each team fared in this trade.

Grading the Broncos trade for Russell Wilson

Give credit where credit is due.

The Broncos went out and took a huge swing at landing a quarterback and let’s be honest, the Broncos had to do this. This team was not going to make much noise this season without a great signal-caller, and landing Russell Wilson allows for the Broncos to enter back into the limelight of the NFL.

The Broncos have been quietly building a great foundation for years to allow a trade like this to be successful if an opportunity were to arise. Russell Wilson should slip right in with the Broncos’  go-ahead offense and talented defense. There are some holes that need to be addressed in free agency and the draft, but this team is ready to ride in the key areas for Wilson to succeed.

The compensation for Russell Wilson may look like a lot on the surface, but when stacking it up next to a player of Wilson’s ability, I would do this trade over and over again.

Broncos GM George Paton, the architect of this trade, ended up sending Seattle 2022 1st, 2nd, and 5th round picks, 2023 1st, and 2nd round picks, QB Drew Lock, DE Shelby Harris, and TE Noah Fant.

Masterfully, the Broncos still have a 2nd and two 3rd round picks in this year’s draft which they obtained by trading Von Miller to the Rams last season. And next year’s first and second-round picks are likely to be later in those rounds given the incumbent success the Broncos will have next season. Paton also stayed on-brand by getting a 2022 4th round pick as well. He has to have his darts.

I’m all for the drafting and developing philosophy,  but when a quarterback of Russell Wilson’s caliber is in play, you give up the unknown for a proven commodity.

As for the players, Drew Lock’s time in Denver comes to an end. The former 2nd rounder had his chance to make his case, but ultimately the Broncos brass had no prior ties to Lock which sealed his fate in Denver. It will sting to lose the promising Noah Fant and locker room leader Shelby Harris, but the Broncos are high on Albert Okwuegbunam and should be able to find a replacement along the defensive line.

The Broncos have their quarterback in Russell Wilson for years to come and will elevate this team in many areas, particularly in the production on offense. George Paton called this team a “sleeping giant” when he took over the Broncos in January of 2021, and now it seems with the acquisition of Russell Wilson, that giant is about to wake up.

Grade: A

This trade came as a shock to many, but perhaps nobody got it worse than Seahawks fans. The national media always seemed skeptical that Russell Wilson would actually get traded this year and there has been a flurry of reports suggesting that Pete Carroll and GM John Schneider wanted to keep Wilson and that they had “no intention” of moving him. I guess not.

If we have learned anything in football it’s that anything or anyone can be moved if the right dominos fall in that direction. Russell Wilson was clearly not happy with the direction of this football team and wanted to get out from under it.

Trading away a franchise quarterback takes a heck of a lot of stones, and if you do pull that trigger, you best hope you are getting a good return. In this particular case, that’s debatable for the Seahawks.

The picks acquired in this trade do offer the Seahawks some material to build with, but it could be argued that they could have asked for more. For example, it cost three first-round picks for the San Fransisco 49ers to move up in the draft to take Trey Lance, and that is for an unknown, unproven player. Russell Wilson is a Super Bowl-winning quarterback and when he is playing well, he is easily a top 10 quarterback in the NFL.

As for the players obtained, Drew Lock is a dart throw at this point in his up and down career. Would he actually start for Seattle? Potentially, but there will likely be a veteran bridge type of quarterback brought in to compete for the job.

Noah Fant was the one promising, young, skill position player that Seattle got back but even as good as Fant could be, a tight end doesn’t move the needle like other positions.

Finally, it was a surprise that the one player on defense sent to Seattle was a veteran. Not to discount his ability, Harris is a great player but to not land the likes of a Dre’Mont Jones or a Bradley Chubb just feels a bit incomplete.

All in all, the Seahawks did get some pieces to work with, but it just feels like they could have asked for more in both the draft picks and the players. All signs point to a lopsided trade in the Denver Broncos’ favor.

Grade C

Rejoice, Broncos Country. We are about to ride again.