There are reports that the New York Giants are one of three teams for which Seattle Seahawks star quarterback Russell Wilson would waive his no-trade clause. Is that something the Giants could do? Is is something the Giants should do, if it is a realistic possibility?
Wilson has denied the reports. Still, we can have some fun discussing it. Everyone is going to have a different opinion on Wilson to the Giants. So, we convened a session of the Big Blue View Round Table and asked our contributors for their viewpoints.
Here is how we posed the question:
“Russell Wilson would reportedly waive his no-trade clause to come to the Giants. Two-part question: Is that something you would like to see, and considering what the Giants would have to both give up to acquire him and then pay Wilson do you believe such a trade is realistic?”
Here is how your Big Blue View contributors responded.
Is a trade for Russell Wilson something I would like to see? Let me put it this way: In the abstract it would be managerial malpractice to not explore a deal for Wilson.
Full disclosure here, I’ve been a fan of Wilson since he transferred from N.C. State to Wisconsin and believed he would have been QB 2 in the 2012 draft if he was a couple inches taller.
My own bias aside, Wilson has proven that he’s a bonafide franchise quarterback. And if you have the option of adding a franchise quarterback, you need to consider it at the very least. The quarterback position is the foundation of a modern football team and the best allow everyone else to play to their best. Identifying pressure, managing (and navigating) the pocket and keeping the offense on schedule helps the offensive line play its best. Identifying coverages and manipulating defensive backs while throwing precise passes help the receivers play their best. Forcing the defense to defend the whole field helps running backs make the most of their carries. Putting up points helps the defense by forcing other teams to throw the ball (more pass rush opportunities) and forcing them away from the running game (helping the run defense). Sustaining drives helps the defense stay rested and limits the number of short fields they have to defend. There’s a reason why the Denver Broncos pursued Peyton Manning, the Buccaneers went after Tom Brady, and the Rams went out and got Matt Stafford.
Wilson wouldn’t just give the Giants the kind of foundation they haven’t had since Eli Manning’s prime, but his personality would be a perfect fit for New York and the Giants’ organization.
All of that is why the Giants absolutely should do their due diligence on acquiring Wilson. That doesn’t mean they should sell the farm to get him, but the Giants should at least see if a mutually acceptable deal can be struck. After all, the Giants are one of the few teams with the capital to get a deal done — and it might not all have to be draft capital. Pete Carroll and the Seahawks would almost certainly be tempted by a deal that includes Saquon Barkley. Likewise, if the Seahawks are trading Wilson, then they’re going to need a starting QB. And if we’re accepting the preposition that Daniel Jones is better than any quarterback in the 2022 draft, then it would follow that his trade value would be increased this year.
I’m not going to speculate on what a potential trade package would look like. But including Jones and Barkley would free up about $15.5 million in cap space and potentially keep the Giants’ 2022 draft class relatively intact.
(I can already see the objections about the Giants’ offensive line looming. Fun fact: The Seahawks OL isn’t just worse, but much worse. Football Outsiders ranks the Giants’ offensive line 15th in pass protection with a sack rate of 6.3 percent. The Seahawks rank 31st, with a sack rate of 9.7 percent.)
But then there’s the second part of the question: Is it at all realistic given the Giants’ roster and salary cap constraints?
I’ll preface this part by saying “never say never” and it’s amazing what people can do when they’re willing to work together toward a common goal.
THAT BEING SAID ...
The Giants would almost certainly have to make some very costly cuts to afford Wilson’s services. It’s possible that Wilson — or perhaps Ciara — could agree to a (very) team-friendly contract extension to spread out his salary cap impact and help get a hypothetical deal done. But in the economic landscape of the modern NFL, that’s incredibly unlikely. Wilson is due to make $77 million over the next two years, while the Giants are going to have to make roster cuts to just sign their rookie class.
If we assume that Dave Gettleman will be retiring (or “retiring”) after this year, his successor is going to find himself with much a much tighter budget than the $23.39 million Gettleman had when hired.
Executing a bold, blockbuster trade for Russell Wilson is something I think we’d all like to see the Giants do. That could short-circuit a complete rebuild and return to relevance right now, like what the Buccaneers and Rams accomplished the last two years. Unfortunately, their current circumstances make the prospects of that kind of move more a pleasant daydream than anything else.
There’s two options for the Giants if they decide that Daniel Jones is no longer the answer. Swing for the fences again in the draft and risk missing for a second time, or sign/acquire a proven veteran quarterback who can fill in for a few years. In that case, the Giants can continue hunting in the draft for lower-round backup projects.
I have no problem with the Giants going the latter route but it would need to be for a reasonable price. The problem is, the Seahawks are not going to be charitable in giving away their franchise player. For example, two first-round picks would be the maximum number of first rounders for me but I’m not sure what the demand would be. If the Giants can figure out a way to get Wilson to New York for a package that wouldn’t destroy the franchise for years to come, I’m okay with that.
Look, it hasn’t worked out thus far with Daniel Jones. I get that all the geek stats say he’s good, but it just isn’t translating on the field. If the Giants can get a Russell Wilson, I say go for it.
Would having Pro Bowl QB Russell Wilson under center in New York provide a much-needed jolt to a stilted offense? Absolutely. Should the Giants actually acquire the longtime Seahawk? I’m not so sure.
If the Giants do decide that they would like to move on from Daniel Jones, a trade makes more sense than waiting until the 2022 NFL Draft, which does not have any notable signal-callers. But I am not sure that a trade should be the move for the Giants this offseason not just with Wilson, but with anyone.
We know that New York has the draft capital to make some team a compelling offer as they own the No. 5 and No. 7 overall picks. But a top-tier QB would likely require not only this year’s first-round picks but potentially a 2023 first-rounder. In addition to the draft capital required, quarterbacks are costly and, as Ed details below, the Giants do not have the cap space to take on expensive contracts like Wilson’s.
The argument for Daniel Jones has always been that with proper protection up-front and strong weapons to throw to, he has the potential to be a steady long-term QB. In his third season in New York, I understand that fans are becoming impatient with Jones. But the fact of the matter is, he still has not been placed in the best circumstances with two head coaches in three seasons, a fired offensive coordinator, a rotating offensive line and an injured receiving corps.
The Giants need stability under center and I think using their draft picks to acquire some mainstay players who can anchor a team will best position New York moving forward.
A New York Giants team with Russell Wilson would look roughly similar to this year’s Seahawks offense: a starting-caliber quarterback with elite playmakers that can’t finish drives because of a horrendous offensive line. When a team’s pass protection is as bad as New York’s or Seattle’s, it doesn’t matter who’s under center. The Seahawks actually averaged slightly more points this year with Geno Smith than with Wilson. Sure, Smith got to play against mediocre defenses, but the drop-off was less noticeable because even Wilson couldn’t impact the game behind a line that ranks 31st in pressure percentage and sack rate. The Giants are in the same situation right now. It doesn’t matter if they’re starting Daniel Jones or Mike Glennon if they can’t score anyway.
As important as the quarterback position is, it takes someone like Tom Brady or Peyton Manning to single-handedly transform a franchise. Just look at last year’s Houston Texans, who went 4-12 even with Deshaun Watson playing at an MVP level. Though Giants fans are understandably impatient with Jones, he has already proven that he can play at an above-average level when given time in the pocket. I still believe he’s capable of leading New York to the playoffs, and it would be foolish to deal for Wilson when the roster has so many other holes.
A Jones-Wilson trade would likely include both of the Giants’ 2022 first-round picks, making it unlikely their depth chart would change much outside of the quarterback position. It would also further complicate a salary cap situation that has already been subjected to a few years of Dave Gettleman’s manhandling.
Does anyone really believe New York would have been a playoff team this year with Wilson under center? Watching Jones play behind a revamped line is far more appealing.
In a vacuum, of course you want Russell Wilson to be your quarterback instead of Daniel Jones. Wilson is a superior player, probably far superior. I don’t care that Wilson turns 34 next season. He probably has four or five quality seasons left, and that’s plenty of time to carry the Giants to the Arch Manning era.
The problem is that I’m not sure this is something the Giants could, or should, do.
Let’s suppose the Giants could get Wilson for Jones and one of their two 2022 first-round picks. I don’t know if that price would get it done, but I think the Giants could swallow that. If it cost them both first-round picks, or a first-round pick in 2022 and 2023, perhaps not.
Still, getting a Wilson trade done is only part of the problem. What kind of team could the Giants put around him?
If you are giving up premium draft capital for a couple of years, the likelihood of adding quality young talent to your roster is severely diminished. You might get lucky in the middle or late rounds of the draft, but counting on getting lucky is not a good strategy.
The other reality is money. Wilson is EXPENSIVE! His base salary in 2022 is $19 million, and in 2023 it’s $22 million. He also has $5 million roster bonuses each season, and that might would be the Giants’ responsibility in 2022 if a trade happened before the fifth day of the league year when the bonus is due.
The 2022 salary cap is estimated to be $208.2 million. Over The Cap estimates the Giants to be $9.118 million over that number. Trade for Wilson, that number balloons.
[EDITOR’S NOTE: A previous version of this story had incorrect cap numbers for Wilson].
Yes, you can re-structure Wilson’s deal. That’s not going to be nearly enough to get under the cap, though. The Giants already have hard choices to make. Trade for Wilson, you can say goodbye to Sterling Shepard, Jabrill Peppers, Evan Engram, Kyle Rudolph and probably Blake Martinez and James Bradberry, too. Maybe more.
So, you would have little premium draft capital and would have to gut your roster of veteran talent. Would you really want to do that? Would Wilson really want to come to New York if he knew the team would have to be gutted to fit him in?
I don’t see it.