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Seattle Seahawks trading Russell Wilson would be even worse than you think

NFC West
Photo Credit: USA Today

Despite recent rumors that Russell Wilson could be on the trade block, the Seattle Seahawks would be crazy to move their Super Bowl-winning quarterback and face of the franchise.

Recently, rumors have been circulating that Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson could get traded before next season. Many teams would benefit immensely from adding a quarterback of Wilson’s caliber. But what I want to focus on is what Seattle would be losing if they did trade their star quarterback. The answer is, obviously, quite a lot. But it might be even more than you think.

Wilson turned 30 years old this past season and saw a dip in production in some areas statistically. So one might think that as good as Wilson has been throughout his career, it wouldn’t be too bad if Seattle decided to trade him. However, this perspective is shortsighted and fails to take into account certain external factors that had a significant effect on Wilson’s statistics.

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Wilson did not regress in 2018

Though at first glance it might seem as though Russell Wilson regressed slightly last year, it is important to take context into account when examining Wilson’s 2018 season. One reason for this apparent regression is, for the first time in 4 seasons, the Seahawks ran the ball significantly more than they passed it. In 2015, the numbers were roughly even. But in 2016 and 2017, the Seahawks threw the ball around 150 more times than they ran it. Those three seasons were, unsurprisingly, the three in which Wilson threw for the most yards in his career.

But in 2018 Seattle ran the ball 107 more times than they passed it. This change in philosophy meant that Wilson’s passing yards decreased significantly. But this does not indicate that Wilson was less productive overall. His 8.1 yards per attempt was higher than his career average. He also set career-highs in touchdown passes (35) and passer rating (110.9). Again, all of this is despite Wilson having significantly fewer attempts than in prior seasons.

Wilson’s value to the offense

So Russell Wilson is still an excellent quarterback. But he is even more critical to the Seahawks’ success than his impressive statistics might indicate. In 2018, Wilson had a PFN Offensive Share Metric (OSM) rating of 28.93. This rating made him the 4th most important quarterback to his team in the NFL. To put another way, only 3 starting quarterbacks were more instrumental to their team’s success than Wilson was to Seattle’s.

When comparing Wilson’s influence with the other members of the Seahawks offense, it becomes even more clear how important he is. Only 2 other members of the offense had a significant share of the offense’s production. One was wide receiver Tyler Lockett, who received an OSM rating of 39. Lockett ranked as a top-5 receiver in the NFL in OSM last year. The other was tight end Nick Vannett, who received a rating of 38. His OSM ranked higher than some better known tight ends like Travis Kelce. However, despite his high grade, Vannett played less than half of his team’s offensive snaps. So while he performed well when given the opportunity, those opportunities were not all that frequent.

Every other weapon that Wilson had to work with was average at best. Starting running back Chris Carson received an OSM rating of 36, and wide receiver Doug Baldwin received a rating of 35. Both of these grades were roughly average for each player’s position. Beyond Carson and Baldwin, contributions drop off substantially. For example, the Seahawks’ number 3 wide receiver, David Moore, received an OSM rating of 25. Moore’s rating is the lowest of any receiver measured thus far.

What this essentially all means is that relative to his position, Wilson was easily one of the most important players on his team, and he did not receive that much help from his skill position players beyond Tyler Lockett.

Wilson’s future in Seattle

So now the answer to the question “should Seattle trade Russell Wilson” should be a clear and resounding “no,” at least based on his level of production. The Seahawks should pay Wilson, who is entering the final year of his contract, whatever he wants. The only real reason to trade him would be if they are certain that he will leave when his contract expires after next season. If Wilson really wants to go to a different team, then this would put Seattle in an awkward position.

However, in such a scenario they would only have themselves to blame. Wilson is one of the most important players to the success of the Seahawks. If they have upset him to the point that no amount of money would convince him to stay, then that is their fault, and they will have lost an incredibly valuable player.

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