By: Court Weston/Oregon Sports News
It’s an overplayed narrative – All-Pro players sitting out training camps while demanding more desirable contracts. It’s not often, however, for franchise centerpieces to speak publicly on another player’s holdout, let alone campaigning for said player.
Enter Russell Wilson, the Seattle Seahawks’ franchise QB and arguably the greatest athlete in Seattle pro sports history. Most would argue Wilson has it all – fame, fortune, a superstar pedigree, and even his wife, Ciara, is a successful singer and model – but the seven-time Pro Bowler is missing something every quarterback desires, a stout offensive line. And he’s been quite vocal about it.
The now 32-year old signal-caller spoke publicly back in February to voice his frustrations with Seahawks management, saying he was getting “hit too much” when alluding to the team’s weak offensive line and a lack of effort from the organization to better his protection upfront. Not long after, a report was released by The Athletic stating Wilson “stormed out” of a meeting with his coaches during the regular season after his ideas to fix the offense were dismissed.
Nearly six months later, Wilson is speaking out again. This time, regarding a contract dispute between the Seahawks and 35-year old left tackle Duane Brown. Brown is a four-time Pro Bowler and was named an All-Pro in 2012 as a member of the Houston Texans, where he spent the first nine and a half seasons. The 6-foot-4, 315-pound lineman, is entering the final year of a three-year, $34.5 million extension he signed back in 2018.
Brown is refusing to show up to training camp until his contract issues are resolved. A Pro Bowl-caliber tackle entrusted with protecting your franchise player’s blind side holding out is an issue that would already warrant media attention, but having a teammate – the aforementioned franchise player – speaking publicly about that situation is sure to ruffle some feathers.
Here’s Wilson’s full statement, as reported by ESPN:
“Not having Duane Brown out there is a pretty significant deal because I think he’s one of the best left tackles in the game; there’s no arguing it,” Wilson said Sunday after the Seahawks’ mock game at Lumen Field. “I think he’s as good as it gets. There’s nobody more athletic, more talented than he is. Age is just a number. He looks like he’s 28-30 out there. He’s really exceptional. So smart and physical understands the game, and I think people fear him, to be honest with you when they’re rushing him and playing against him.
“So we definitely want to be able to get him back out there. We’ve got to figure that out because we need Duane Brown.”
Comments like the ones Wilson’s been making over the last six months would frustrate any franchise. However, Wilson surely feels entitled to a little extra leeway than most, given his accomplishments while donning Seahawks’ green and blue.
The 5-foot-11 third-round pick out of Wisconsin helped Seattle to two Super Bowl appearances – including one win – within his first three seasons in the NFL, including a 6-2 record in the playoffs. Seattle has a mere three playoff victories over the last six seasons.
Despite the lack of recent playoff success, Wilson led the Seahawks to a winning record in each of his first nine years, failing to reach a double-digit win total only once, going 9-7 in 2017, but was still selected to the Pro Bowl.
Wilson had perhaps his best season statistically speaking in 2020, throwing a career-high 40 touchdown passes against 13 interceptions to go along with 4,212 yards, just seven yards shy of his best mark, which he set back in 2016. He was also more efficient than ever, completing 68.8 percent of his 558 throws, besting his previous high of 68.1 percent in 2015 (483 attempts).
All of his achievements have seemingly come despite the offensive line, as Wilson has been sacked more over a player’s first nine seasons than any other in league history with 394. The next closest is Randall Cunningham’s 366.
It’s no surprise Wilson wants to see the team lock up Brown and bolster an otherwise porous line, but is he overstepping his bounds?
It’s clear the team doesn’t view Wilson as highly as he views himself. Perhaps head coach Pete Carroll would point to the Super Bowl appearances as being more of a result of the team’s run-heavy offense featuring Marshawn Lynch and overwhelming “Legion of Boom” defense rather than Wilson’s impact from under center.
Over Wilson’s first three years, he averaged 417.3 pass attempts per season, including the second-lowest total of his career (407) during his Super Bowl-winning campaign of 2013. The team also racked up an average of 12 wins during the regular season. Since then, however, he’s averaged 513.8 attempts per year. The team still wins during the regular season (10.3 victories on average the last six seasons), but relying more on Wilson’s arm hasn’t translated into much playoff success.
There’s been much speculation that Wilson’s antics could result in the quarterback being traded. However, the Seahawks have yet to pull the trigger on such a deal.
Both sides have valid arguments to back their cases, but one thing is clear when it comes to Wilson’s relationship with Seattle – the forecast looks stormy at best.