Broncos see super strategy in trade for Russell Wilson as Aaron Rodgers stays put
In each of the last two years, an NFL team has acquired a star quarterback — the onetime face of another franchise — and has gone on to win the Super Bowl.
Tampa Bay achieved that with Tom Brady in 2020. The Rams did it with Matthew Stafford last season.
Now, the Denver Broncos are hoping to continue that streak.
The Broncos and Seattle Seahawks have agreed to a trade that will send quarterback Russell Wilson to Denver in exchange for a truckload of picks and players.
News of the seismic swap came after reports Tuesday that Aaron Rodgers decided to stay in Green Bay, with the four-time Most Valuable Player who had hinted he might be on his way out instead opting to be the domino that didn’t fall.
The Chargers and 27-year-old wide receiver Mike Williams agree on a three-year deal that guarantees him $40 million and is worth up to $60 million.
But in a year when the incoming draft class is underwhelming, the carousel of veteran quarterbacks who could become available has taken on inordinate interest and intrigue.
Jimmy Garoppolo, Derek Carr, Deshaun Watson and Carson Wentz could all be making moves this offseason, and there are plenty of quarterback-needy teams.
Tuesday’s developments potentially were impactful to both Los Angeles teams.
Wilson joins the Chargers in the AFC West, which now boasts a formidable starting foursome of Justin Herbert, Patrick Mahomes, Derek Carr and Wilson, who collected more victories (113) in his first decade than any quarterback in league history. Peyton Manning is second with 112.
For the Rams, it means Wilson is out of their division, even though they typically played well against him and the Seahawks are far less imposing than they once were. Seattle hasn’t won a divisional playoff game since 2014, the year they lost the Super Bowl to New England on that fateful goal-line interception.
Still, many people believe that the 33-year-old Wilson has a lot left in the tank, and that he will bring leadership to the Broncos the way Peyton Manning did in the glorious finish to his career. Manning got to two Super Bowls with Denver, winning one against Carolina and losing the other to Wilson and the Seahawks.
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Tuesday’s news also meant that the Rams still have to contend with Rodgers in Green Bay, where the Packers will remain in the mix of Super Bowl favorites.
Pete Carroll wouldn’t let Wilson go if he didn’t have a plan, and the 70-year-old Seahawks coach likely doesn’t have the patience for a ground-up rebuild.
As part of the Wilson trade, the Seahawks are due to receive two first-round picks, two seconds and a fifth, along with quarterback Drew Lock, tight end Noah Fant and defensive tackle Shelby Harris.
The Seahawks could use one of those first-round picks on a player such as Liberty’s Malik Willis, whose stock is rising after an impressive performance at the scouting combine and who might have the most raw potential of this incoming quarterback class.
Garoppolo is coming off shoulder surgery and probably won’t be able to throw a football until late June or early July, but he should generate a lot of trade interest.
Greg Cosell examines strengths, weaknesses of the top six quarterbacks available in the NFL draft next month.
There should be more clarity in the coming days on Houston’s Watson, who is mired in accusations of sexual misconduct. Several women who filed criminal complaints against him reportedly have been subpoenaed to appear before a grand jury Friday.
With Wilson now in the division, the Las Vegas Raiders might want to hang on even tighter to Carr, who has been excellent for them the last two seasons but frequently is the subject of trade chatter.
The Chargers finished third in the division last season, and the one team beneath them just picked up Wilson, who made nine Pro Bowls in 10 seasons with the Seahawks.
But can Wilson repeat the success Manning had with the Broncos? That’s the hope in Denver, where the Broncos have missed the playoffs six years in a row. In a way, it’s a full-circle moment for Wilson, who was a second baseman drafted in the fourth round by the Colorado Rockies in 2010.
So Denver knows the blueprint. So do the Buccaneers and Rams. Repeating it is the trick.
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