The idea of the Bears landing star quarterback Russell Wilson sounds crazy every time it comes up, but it sure seems like the door hasn’t fully closed on their dream.
While it’s still highly unlikely that the Seahawks would part with their franchise player, neither he nor they have spoken up to end trade speculation. And there’s enough uncertainty about his future that team president Chuck Arnold curiously omitted him in a letter to season-ticket holders this week.
Arnold highlighted several players and coaches as reasons to be excited about next season, but made no mention of Wilson whatsoever. Perhaps the Seahawks are treading carefully as smoke swirls.
This is of high interest to the Bears, who were one of four teams agent Mark Rodgers said Wilson would be willing to go to in a trade. That list narrowed to three with the Cowboys signing quarterback Dak Prescott to a massive extension Monday, leaving the Saints and Raiders as the other contenders for Wilson.
Wilson, 32, has played nine seasons for the Seahawks and won a Super Bowl. He posted three of his top four season passer ratings over the last three seasons. In 2020, he averaged 263.3 yards per game (nearly a career high), threw for 40 touchdowns against 13 interceptions and was seventh in the NFL with a 105.1 passer rating.
For his career, Wilson is a seven-time Pro Bowler with 267 touchdown passes and a 101.7 rating.
The Bears haven’t had anyone even close to him since Sid Luckman in the 1940s. Their franchise record for passing yards is 3,838 by Erik Kramer in 1995, and Wilson has topped that mark five times.
Regardless of his tremendous success in Seattle, Wilson voiced frustration with how much he has gotten hit the last several seasons and wanted input on personnel decisions. He got sacked 47 times last season (third in the NFL) and 146 times over the last three.
Wilson didn’t request a trade, Rodgers said, but floating potential destinations made clear how serious he is about relocating. ESPN’s Adam Schefter, arguably the most credible NFL news breaker said Monday on SportsCenter that he believes, “the idea that Russell Wilson could be traded is real,” despite the many reasons for the Seahawks to keep him.
Rodgers also said Wilson’s preference is to work things out in Seattle.
That’d almost certainly be the Seahawks’ preference, too, even with the potential of collecting a haul of draft picks in return. The Bears have all their high-round picks from here forward, by the way, but they don’t have a surplus of valuable selections like the Dolphins, Jets and Jaguars.
The Seahawks have gone 98-45-1 since drafting Wilson, including 12-4 last season, and have made the playoffs eight times. Wilson also has three years, $70 million left on his contract, and trading him would result in a $39 million dead-salary-cap hit for the Seahawks this season. By unloading him, they would be committing to blow up a team that could conceivably be in the mix for the Super Bowl.
The Bears are desperate to fix their quarterback situation after former No. 2 overall pick Mitch Trubisky flamed out and trade acquisition Nick Foles floundered. Foles is the only quarterback currently under contract and is signed through 2022.
Wilson and Texans star Deshaun Watson are the top quarterbacks who could even potentially be available this offseason. The Rams already traded for Matt Stafford, and the Colts dealt for Carson Wentz.
If the Bears aren’t able to make a surprise deal for Watson or Wilson, their next best options would probably be trading for the Raiders’ Marcus Mariota or the Jets’ Sam Darnold — or follow the dominos and take a quarterback from another team that makes a deal. As far as free agents, Cam Newton, Tyrod Taylor, Andy Dalton, Alex Smith and Ryan Fitzpatrick are likely the best quarterbacks on the market.
None of them would be a difference maker like Wilson, which is why the Bears are still dreaming of a blockbuster trade that could change everything.