August 31, 2010
It's always interesting when a trade happens, and you're in the facilities of one of the teams involved. That's what happened to me today, when I was at the Seattle Seahawks HQ (the Virginia Mason Athletic Center) working on another installment of the Justin Forsett(notes) preseason diary. After practice, word started going around the Twitterverse that Seattle had traded cornerback Josh Wilson(notes) to the Baltimore Ravens for a conditional draft pick. An odd transaction if true, as Wilson - a second-round pick in 2007 - had developed some starting skills that are not always easy for teams to replicate. Wilson picked off two passes in 2009 and led the team in pass deflections with 12.
About an hour after the trade was confirmed, head coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider came in to the media room to discuss the deal. The primary reason for the trade was that the Seahawks -- who are getting basted by the fans at first glance - have a great deal of faith in rookie cornerback Walter Thurmond(notes). The fourth-round pick out of Oregon had projected at one time as a first-round pick, but a knee injury suffered on the season's opening kickoff curtailed his 2009 campaign. Thurmond had played well through the preseason, and the coaches noticed.
"This is an opportunity that came along for us because of our depth," Carroll said. "We're very happy with the cornerback position, with Kelly Jennings(notes) and Walter Thurmond ... Josh is a great kid, and this is a team that really came after him. It happened very quickly."
"[Baltimore] has a situation where they have a strong need," Schneider said. "It was one of those deals that comes along, and we felt we couldn't pass it up." The Ravens have been desperately looking for help at the cornerback position since losing Domonique Foxworth(notes) for the season to a torn ACL. It's a great deal for a Super Bowl contender, which the Ravens are and the Seahawks are not. Wilson is an unrestricted free agent in 2011, so the short-term natire of the deal benefits Baltimore right now.
"Walter has had a great camp," Carroll said, when I asked what about the rookie made this deal so palatable. "He's played beautifully for us, and maybe more than anyone else. We've had a great look at him, and we're really excited about his contributions. He's played the nickel spot as well, and done a really great job there, so it's his emergence and the play of Kelly Jennings that allows us to make a move like this.
"Walter's an all-around football player. He runs and hits like a safety - he's made a bunch of hits that have been really exciting. He's shown the speed, agility, and attitude to get out there and line up and hit - he hasn't backed off of anything. He'll have some really good challenges this weekend [against the Oakland Raiders], and we've seen a lot of guys on a lot of situations - he's really on the move. We're pumped about it."
The Seahawks felt that they got a great deal in Thurmond, which perhaps makes the mid-round pick for Wilson seem like a fair deal. It's a questionable trade on its face - Thurmond does have elite potential, but he played through a pelvic injury in 2008 on top of the knee issue in 2009. He's never faced an NFL offense in the regular season, and though Kelly Jennings will be the starter along with Marcus Trufant(notes), this is clearly a statement move in favor of a guy in Thurmond who is all potential.
One additional factor is that while Wilson is 5-foot-9, Trufant, Jennings, and Thurmond are all 5-foot-11. Former Seahawks GM Tim Ruskell favored smaller cornerbacks, but Schneider comes from Green Bay, where larger defensive backs are the norm.
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