Re-grading the Broncos trade for Russell Wilson after six games

INGLEWOOD, CALIFORNIA - OCTOBER 17: Russell Wilson #3 of the Denver Broncos waits to take the field for a game against the Los Angeles Chargers at SoFi Stadium on October 17, 2022 in Inglewood, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
INGLEWOOD, CALIFORNIA - OCTOBER 17: Russell Wilson #3 of the Denver Broncos waits to take the field for a game against the Los Angeles Chargers at SoFi Stadium on October 17, 2022 in Inglewood, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images) /

Six weeks into the season, the trade that sent Russell Wilson from the Seattle Seahawks to the Denver Broncos is worth re-examining. 

When the Seattle Seahawks traded franchise quarterback Russell Wilson to the Denver Broncos, the haul Seattle received in return deemed the trade a necessary, yet painful, victory.

Seahawks fans were shocked to see their longtime franchise quarterback leave, especially when more details poured out indicating Wilson was no longer satisfied being a Seahawk. Fast-forward to today, and Seahawks fans and former players have come out an overwhelmingly negative view of Wilson.

That’s looking at the trade from an emotional perspective, though. While the tide of Northwestern feelings about Wilson have turned for the worse, the trade only seems to have improved for the PNW over time.

The Seahawks have been severely lacking in draft picks, primarily because of the pricey Jamal Adams trade that unfortunately has yet to pay off. Aside from the fact that Wilson apparently wanted a fresh start elsewhere, the Seahawks needed to swap a major — and expensive — player to free up cap space and build a new team. Trading Wilson for Drew Lock seemed laughable on its face, but everyone outside of the Seahawks front office underestimated the potential of Geno Smith.

For Russell Wilson and a 2022 fourth-round pick, the Seahawks received Broncos players Drew Lock, Shelby Harris and Noah Fant. They also received five draft picks, including first and second rounders in 2022 and 2023.

Here’s who the Seahawks selected with their 2022 picks from the Broncos, including the selections made with a trade with the Kansas City Chiefs in the fifth round.

  • Charles Cross, OT
  • Boye Mafe, DE
  • Tyreke Smith, DE
  • Dareke Young, WR

With their sole 2022 draft pick from the trade, the Broncos selected defensive tackle Eyioma Uwazurike.

In retrospect, the trade feels even more lopsided in favor of the Seahawks, even though so much remains unknown.

Seahawks win even more in Week 6 through Russell Wilson trade with Broncos

Drew Lock did lose the quarterback battle to Geno Smith, but Shelby Harris and Noah Fant have made an impact so far this season. Harris is a part of an improving defensive unit, logging a sack in an eight-sack attack against Kyler Murray in Seattle’s 19-9 win over Arizona. Although they weren’t part of the trade, rookies Coby Bryant, Tariq Woolen and Kenneth Walker III also had commendable performances that heavily contributed to the win, per Seattle Times’ Shane Lantz.

For his part, Fant caught six of seven targets for 45 yards, adding to the 150 he’s gotten this season. Fant has one touchdown on the year and has caught 19 of 23 targets, which offers valuable security in addition to the six first downs he’s attained this year.

It’s no surprise that Seattle has built a stable, multi-dimensional team through this season, with rookies and Broncos acquisitions showing up big alongside longtime Seahawks counterparts. But the main unknown that really weighs in Seattle’s favor is the capability of Geno Smith, who Seattle is now contemplating making their long-term quarterback.

“They are starting to look at him as the potential long-term solution at the position,” reported NFL Network’s Mike Garofolo this Sunday. “And not just because he’s leading the league in passer rating and completion percentage, but because of how he’s managing the offense as a whole. The last two weeks, Smith audibled plays at the line of scrimmage that resulted in touchdown runs.”

Meanwhile, the Broncos are saddled with Wilson for the next seven seasons, which includes a five-year, $245 million extension. Throughout the first third of the season, the 2-4 Broncos have yet to see the benefit of building a team around Wilson.

The Broncos finished 2021 with a 7-10 record, and considering the strength of their schedule this year, it’s possible they could finish below that in 2022. This week, they’ll be facing a surging 3-2 New York Jets unit that has shocked the NFL world with their efficacy, then a Jacksonville Jaguars team that could yield a rare win. The only other team that could be a surefire win is one against the Carolina Panthers, but the 1-5 Panthers will have a few weeks to gather themselves after the firing of Matt Rhule. Divisional matchups against the Chiefs, Raiders and Chargers seem daunting, and despite their own struggles, the Rams and Cardinals have proven to be more cohesive than the primetime Broncos. The Ravens and Titans, who are each leading their respective AFC division at the moment, also aren’t likely victories.

The Wilson trade reaffirms the fact that the success found in the Tom Brady and Matthew Stafford moves are rarities that cannot be so easily replicated. Brady struggled heavily through the majority of his first season with the Buccaneers, hitting a stride with his team as they powered through a Wild Card berth. Stafford connected with an underestimated Cooper Kupp and leaned on him heavily as they journeyed toward the Super Bowl, a connection that’s now being exploited by Pick Sixes.

Wilson too seems to be leaning on Courtland Sutton, but he’ll need to lean more on other receivers in addition to his run game — a fact that ultimately cost the Broncos the game versus the Colts, much to the chagrin of Richard Sherman.

So far, it seems Seattle made the better long-term decision, addressing grave areas of need in the draft while giving a capable Smith the reins. Inversely, the Broncos handed Wilson the keys to the kingdom and he’s fumbled them more times than “Let’s Ride” has been derided.

For this trade, the Seahawks get an A, while the Broncos get a D — at least through 2022, that is.

Must Read. Seahawks have won the Russell Wilson trade in a way you’d never expect. light