Acquiring Russell Wilson was the right move by George Paton
Denver Broncos starting quarterback Russell Wilson has been terrible this season, but regardless of the play on the field this year, it was a great move by George Paton to acquire the former Seahawks quarterback. In fact, the decision to sign Russell Wilson to a massive extension was also a good move.
I’m not here to convince you that the move looks good now given our current knowledge, but I am here, however, to remind everyone that the trade for Russell Wilson was the right thing to do at the time. And with fans prematurely calling for the firing of George Paton, it’s important to remember that.
How many times do 9x Pro Bowl, former All-pro, and former Super Bowl Champion quarterback coming off four straight years of 100+ quarterback ratings with 131 touchdowns to 31 interceptions in that span become available on the trade market?
The answer is not often.
Was it a hefty package that George Paton sent off to the Seahawks? Absolutely. But we’ve seen gambles like that pay off quite handsomely in recent years.
The Rams sent former first-round quarterback Jared Goff, two firsts, and a third for Pro Bowl quarterback Matt Stafford and they won last year’s Super Bowl. For reference, Stafford was 33 last year during the Super Bowl-winning run; the same age as Russell Wilson is now.
So, George Paton sending former first-round tight end Noah Fant, starting defensive tackle Shelby Harris, backup quarterback Drew Lock, two firsts, two seconds, and a fifth isn’t too bad all things considered. If the Denver Broncos were contending for a Super Bowl right now, there would be zero people in Broncos Country questioning the offseason move.
Hindsight is always 20/20, but we can all agree that at the time, it was the right move to trade for Russ and give up that haul of capital.
Now, let’s turn our attention to the more controversial contract extension. For reference, the Denver Broncos signed Russell Wilson to a 5-year/$245 million contract prior to the start of the season. That’s quite a bit of money for a guy who has never played a down for the franchise, but it was the right move for two reasons.
First, if you are willing to trade that much draft capital and players for Russell Wilson, you better be doing so with good confidence in what you are getting in return. You aren’t doing that to bring in Russell Wilson for one season, and if you are, you should be fired immediately. You make that trade to have a starting quarterback for the next five years and hopefully win a Super Bowl.
Secondly, the market for quarterbacks skyrockets every offseason. Take this past offseason for example.
Deshaun Watson got a 5-year/$230 million fully guaranteed contract despite the alarming allegations and looming suspension.
The previously aforementioned Matthew Stafford got a 4-year/$160 million contract.
Aaron Rodgers received a 3-year/$150.8 million contract.
Derek Carr got a 3-year/$121.5 million contract and he’s done basically nothing worthy of that.
And Kirk Cousins got a 1-year/$35 million contract.
Each year the market gets bigger and bigger. Suppose Russell Wilson had a fantastic year as George Paton was certainly expecting. In that case, it was going to cost even more to keep Russell Wilson around in a Denver Broncos uniform next year. In the NFL, these large contracts quickly become bargains within a year or two given the rapidly rising contracts.
Criticize the decision now if you want, but many general managers in George Paton’s position would have pulled the trigger on that deal given the talented Denver Broncos roster, and it was the right move.