You have to make a choice. Either you get to have John Schneider as your general manager or Russell Wilson as your quarterback. Which would you choose? Seahawks fans will increasingly take sides as this impasse on Wilson’s contract continues and other, lesser, quarterbacks are signed to large deals. Much has changed in the month since I first broached the topic of a future without Wilson. What was outlandish just a few weeks ago, is now being discussed by mainstream press on a regular basis. The endgame for this standoff will either involve Schneider capitulating or Wilson playing on another team. Wilson will not budge on his demands, and may even increase them. The ending could come as soon as this month or as far out as 2017. Fans could be forced to make that Sophie’s choice before this reaches conclusion. Where would you fall?
The case for Schneider
|PLAYER||YEAR LET GO|
|Kellen Winslow Jr.||2012|
That is not intended to be an exhaustive list of every player Schneider has moved on from, but it is a good representative collection of his most important decisions to part with talent. There are a few notable misses with guys like Ron Parker and Silver Siliga who were cheap young players the team chose to move on from and have become valuable members of winning teams. Jaye Howard is a decent player for the Chiefs. There are a ton of big names that start appearing in 2014, but it is hard to argue any of them was truly a mistake. Golden Tate is a guy they would have kept if they had not made the error in judgment by acquiring Percy Harvin.
Look at that list and try to make the case that Schneider makes crucial mistakes in letting players go when he should have spent more cap dollars on them. I don’t see it.
Schneider has an impeccable record of judging when a player’s market value eclipses his worth to the Seahawks roster.
Prioritizing roster depth and balance
There is also a philosophy at play here that factors in. Schneider, and his partner in crime Pete Carroll, are attempting to prioritize a more balanced roster that is not so extremely quarterback-centric. That is central to Carroll’s approach to building a team. He wants to win forever. Part of how he plans to do that is giving young players snaps far earlier than most coaches are comfortable. Part of that is preaching competition and letting older players go when a younger, cheaper option is available. And part of that is building a team that can win with less than an elite quarterback.
It does not matter whether or not you think Wilson is an elite quarterback. For Carroll and Schneider, it is core to their belief that you can win without one. Ignore that if you must, but it plays a key role in this discussion. They would take a lesser quarterback in order to have a stronger overall roster. They believe putting too much emphasis on any one player makes them too vulnerable. Think of the Broncos without Peyton Manning, or the Patriots without Tom Brady.
It is not that they think elite quarterbacks are not a great way to win. It is that they think it is a more precarious way to win.
If it gets to a point where Schneider holds the line and there is no agreement with Wilson, it will be because of this philosophy.
The case for Wilson
No quarterback has ever won more games in his first three seasons than Wilson. He has been to two Super Bowls in his first three years, and won at least one playoff game in each of his first three seasons. If you think that Wilson was the primary reason the team won during that period of time, as opposed to the defense or the running game, this is a pretty simple choice to make. Most people, however, know it is more nuanced than that.
No Seahawks quarterback has ever been this efficient. He set the franchise record for passer rating as a rookie. He tied the NFL rookie record for touchdown passes. Even with Lynch’s 1,200 yards in 2011, the team finished 21st in rushing yards per game that year. They have not finished below fourth in that category since adding Wilson.
He is a dynamic player who exudes poise and has a habit of making great plays in big moments. His comfort with play-action passing, mobility, and touch on deep passes makes him a hand-in-glove fit for the Seahawks system. His work ethic and squeaky clean image make him a guy a franchise can feel comfortable betting on.
Even the most skeptical of Wilson must acknowledge he has that intangible “it” factor. That is what drew Schneider to him in the first place. Seattle may be able to find another capable quarterback to step in should they move on from Wilson, but that player is not currently on the roster, and it is unlikely he would bring everything to the table that Wilson does.
Wilson is a known quantity, and asking fans to trade that for the unknowns of who would replace him and impossible to predict roster ripple effects is a tough sell. It is a tack that only a front office occupied by mavericks like Carroll and Schneider would even consider.
A decision to sign Wilson now would add certainty to the Seahawks future. They would know their most expensive asset was in tow, and could plan around it. Their defense may slip as a result, and the overall talent around him would degrade, but the team would have the most important position on the field secured.