SEATTLE — Here’s how an NFL talent evaluator from another team rated all of the draft picks and players the Seattle Seahawks are acquiring from the Denver Broncos as part of the Russell Wilson trade:
“Seems about right.”
And here’s a prediction the same appraiser made on one of the plays the Seahawks acquire:
“I don’t see them coming into the season with Drew Lock at quarterback.”
Therein lies the difficulty of making an immediate assessment of Seattle’s performance in one of the biggest trades in NFL history.
According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the Seahawks get Denver’s first- and second-round picks in each of the next two drafts — which includes numbers 9 and 40 overall this year — as well as the Broncos’ fifth-round pick in 2022. They will also have Lock, tight end Noah Fant and defensive lineman Shelby Harris while sending a 2022 fourth round to Denver with Wilson.
That in itself is a solid trait. And it’s a better one than the Detroit Lions got when they traded Matthew Stafford last year: Jared Goff, the Los Angeles Rams’ third-rounder in 2021 and first-rounders in 2022 and 2023. Detroit also had to assume the remainder of Goff’s contract. .
But you can’t gauge Wilson’s return in a vacuum, because the real measure will be how well he positions the Seahawks to find a replacement capable of leading them to a Super Bowl.
No one would look at Lock’s first three seasons in the NFL and conclude he’s that guy. Indications are that the Seahawks don’t believe this guy is in this year’s draft, which is considered weak at quarterback.
All of this suggests they could have another big quarterback move up their sleeve. Maybe they’re exploring a trade to the Houston Texans for Deshaun Watson. Or maybe they’re using a stopgap in 2022, with a plan to target someone like Bryce Young at the start of next year’s draft.
The path to Wilson’s replacement is unclear, so the answer to whether they have enough in return for him is also unclear.
Here’s a look at everything Seattle is picking up:
The Stafford trade marked the only other time since 2009 that a veteran quarterback has been dealt for multiple first-round picks.
Among the reasons why Seattle’s return for Wilson is better than Detroit’s for Stafford is the timing of those early rounds. The Seahawks get theirs (along with second-rounders) in each of the next two drafts, while the Lions had to wait a year after making the trade for the first. Draft picks are generally considered a less valuable round for each year they are eliminated.
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The only other team known to have made an offer for Wilson was the Washington Commanders. A source told ESPN’s John Keim that he’s including their first-round picks in each of the next three drafts. Washington has the 11th overall pick this year, two spots behind Seattle.
Owning the ninth overall pick makes it a very different draft for the Seahawks, who were a perennial playoff team before this year and therefore typically picked in the 20s. They only made two top-10 picks in 12 drafts under general manager John Schneider and coach Pete Carroll. The two came in 2010, when they took left tackle Russell Okung at No. 6 and safety Earl Thomas at No. 14. Outside linebacker Bruce Irvin, at No. 15 overall in 2012, is the only other player that their current regime has drafted into the top 20.
Despite all the well-deserved criticism the Seahawks received over their early-round failures, their record was much better when they picked higher in the draft. Thomas could end up in the Hall of Fame. Okung and Irvin were good players.
The Seahawks gave up their original first-rounder in the trade Jamal Adams — he ended up No. 10 overall … ouch — but still have four top-72 picks and eight overall. The distribution: a first (9), two seconds (40, 41), a third (72), a fourth, two fifths and a seventh.
The pressure is on Schneider and Carroll to capitalize on their newfound draft wealth, as they no longer have the luxury of playing elite quarterback to cover up staff mistakes.
After generating first-round buzz ahead of the 2019 draft, Lock dropped to 42nd overall. Among quarterbacks who have attempted at least 400 passes since, he ranks 38th in Total QBR, just between Taylor Heinicke of the Commanders and Sam Darnold of the Carolina Panthers. Lock is also 38th in touchdown-to-interception ratio — indicative of lopsided decision-making — and 32nd in yards per attempt.
Admittedly, this is not a large sample size. Lock played just 24 games (21 starts), missing 11 as a rookie with a thumb injury. But he also lost his starting job after a turnover-ridden 2020 and spent most of the 2021 season supporting Teddy Bridgewater.
The aforementioned evaluator who doesn’t think Lock will be Seattle’s starter in 2022 likes his competitiveness and swagger. He called him a good athlete “who can really spin him”.
New Broncos offensive coordinator Justin Outten said of Lock last month, “He’s got a strong arm, he’s done a really good job in terms of using his legs, in terms of the being an athlete.”
At the very least, Lock looks like a solid backup with some starting experience and enough talent to eventually develop further.
In Fant and Harris, the Seahawks get two surefire starters.
The Seahawks were heavily considering taking Fant to No. 21 overall in 2019 until Denver took him to No. 20. He averaged 57 catches and 635 receiving yards in three seasons with 10 touchdown receptions in 47 matches. He had a career-high 68 receptions for 670 yards and four touchdowns last season.
“Really athletic, really soft hands,” the evaluator said of Fant, noting his 4.49 speed at 6-foot-4 and 249 pounds as well as his strong ability to run after the catch.
Fant is a pass-catching tight end that can be moved around as opposed to a more traditional tight end, which means he’s more Gerald Everett than Will Dissly. Both are free agents. If the Seahawks are going to re-sign one, Dissly’s blocking skills could make him a better complement.
Harris, 30, is coming off a six-sack season, tied for his best since entering the NFL as a seventh-round pick in 2014. He has 22.5 sacks in 83 career games.
At 6-foot-2, 290 pounds, Harris looks like an inside player on Seattle’s new defensive front, which Carroll says will use outside linebackers on the edge. His addition could put Kerry Hyder Jr. in danger, if he wasn’t already.
Harris still has two years and $17 million left on his contract. That includes a salary of $7.5 million and $500,000 in bonuses per game this season to a cap of $8 million. Lock still has one year left on his rookie contract at a cost of $1.5 million. Fant also has a year at $2.2 million, though Seattle could keep him under contract for 2023 by exercising his fifth-year option before the May 2 deadline.
The 2022 caps for Lock, Fant and Harris total $11.7 million. The Seahawks save a net $11 million from this year’s cap by trading Wilson, so it’s almost a washout. But the Seahawks are no longer responsible for the $51 million Wilson was expected to earn in cash during the final two years of his contract.