What would a potential Jets trade package for Seahawks QB Russell Wilson look like?

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Russell Wilson treated image green background with white outline
Russell Wilson treated image green background with white outline

An already wild offseason has taken another turn this week. Reports from The Athletic and Bleacher Report suggest that the relationship between the Seattle Seahawks and their star quarterback Russell Wilson has broken down to the point where Wilson is now seeking a trade.

Trades involving Matthew Stafford, Jared Goff and Carson Wentz have already been agreed to over the past few weeks, and the likes of Sam Darnold and Deshaun Watson are also the subject of ongoing trade speculation. Wilson’s availability would bring another intriguing possibility into the mix, though.

Wilson's agent also told ESPN's Adam Schefter that Wilson has not demanded a trade, but if he does, the Cowboys, Saints, Raiders, and Bears are the only teams Wilson would consider.

The Jets may not be on that list at the time being, but if circumstances were to change, it seems obvious the Jets would have interest in the eight-time Pro Bowler and, as we’ve already discussed at length in the context of a potential trade for Watson, they have plenty of assets and flexibility to make a compelling offer.

So, what could any potential trade package look like?

Draft pick compensation

Most experts and insiders seem to agree that acquiring a player like Watson, who just led the NFL in passing yards and is still only 25, would cost somewhere in the region of three-to-four first-round picks.

Wilson is on a similar level to Watson in terms of where he stands among the top quarterbacks in the league. However, he’s 32 and about to enter his 10th season. The price should therefore fall short of what Watson might cost, although the bidding probably starts with at least two first-rounders, plus filler. With several teams likely to be involved, that’s certain to push this cost upwards.

The Jets are well-placed to meet such a demand, with extra picks in both 2021 and 2022 as a result of the Jamal Adams trade last year. Ironically, sending Wilson to the Jets would almost certainly end up with Seattle re-acquiring one, if not both, of the first-rounders they sent to New York in that trade.

We also need to account for the fact that the Jets have the No. 2 overall pick this year. That’s even more valuable than multiple late-rounders because you could feasibly trade down and acquire more than that on draft day.

Lesser picks can potentially be included to bridge the gap. As an example, if the Jets think Wilson is worth two first-rounders, but Seattle thinks he’s worth three, then the Jets could offer two and another lower pick – or offer three but receive a pick back.

A conditional element to any future pick is also a possibility. For example, the Colts-Eagles trade included a future second-round pick that can be uplifted to a first-rounder if Wentz meets certain performance incentives.

Player compensation

The player most often included in any trade speculation around the Jets is Quinnen Williams, who established himself as a difference-maker over the second half of last year.

As a rebuilding team trying to build around young pieces like Williams and tackle Mekhi Becton, you’d expect the Jets to resist weakening their roster by including either of them in the deal, even though they’d likely be worth more than a first-round pick in the final reckoning.

If Seattle likes Darnold, then the Jets could kill two birds with one stone by including him in this trade to reduce the draft pick compensation required.

Financial considerations

In order to trade Wilson, Seattle would have to eat almost $40 million of dead money. That’s unavoidable, but the Jets have adequate cap flexibility to potential soften the blow by perhaps taking on a big contract as part of the deal or sending Seattle a player but paying most of their 2021 salary as a pre-trade bonus. Whether there are any obvious candidates for such moves is another matter.

The Jets clearly have the cap space to take on Wilson’s contract, which arguably underpays him in light of some recent quarterback deals. They could therefore seek to explore an extension, although this would be risky because it would require them to commit big money to him into his late 30s.

Conclusions

After the Adams trade, Seattle was criticized for not valuing their first-rounders enough – something which was underlined when they drafted Jordyn Brooks, a Day Two pick on most analysts’ boards, with their 2020 first-rounder. It may therefore be optimistic to expect them to be tempted by a package of draft picks.

Then again, if they are moving on from Wilson, perhaps this represents a different phase in their organizational development and they could potentially see the No. 2 pick as a valuable asset that could land them Wilson’s replacement and kick start a quickfire rebuilding process.

From the Jets’ perspective, they have to explore every avenue to improve their quarterback situation and the opportunity to land a proven talent such as Wilson may be too good to pass up.