New Report Details Russell Wilson's Departure From the Seattle Seahawks

The Seattle Seahawks and Russell Wilson's Denver Broncos are poised for a battle this week apparently years in the making. ESPN's Brady Henderson released a report today about the acrimonious final years in Seattle that necessitated this offseason's blockbuster trade:
Henderson details a two-way culture of distrust between the nine-time Pro Bowl quarterback and the Seahawks front office. Apparently, Wilson was consistently fed up with an offensive line that surrendered constant pressure and an organization that he believed didn't position him to take his rightful place amongst all-time greats and perceived peers Tom Brady and Peyton Manning. Meanwhile, the front office saw a quarterback with declining mobility who they suspected might not age well, a player they were reluctant to recommit to long-term given the ever-expanding contracts demanded by the league's top passers.
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It's no surprise to hear Wilson air his frustrations with the play of his offensive line. Complaints over the Seahawks' inability to protect Wilson have dogged the team for years; he has been walloped for 427 sacks across his first ten seasons on a staggering 8.3% of his dropbacks, after all. But there is a fundamental misunderstanding among fans about how much quarterback play can impact those numbers. Peyton Manning was sacked a mere 3.13% of his dropbacks over his career, but that wasn't all due to stellar offensive line play. When he took over for the Broncos in 2012, the team's sack rate dropped to 3.4%, down from 8.9% for the previous year's Tim Tebow-led unit. 

Tom Brady has demonstrated a similar ability to drastically affect his team's sack totals. When he returned from his ACL tear in the 2009 season, he was sacked on a paltry 2.8% of his dropbacks. That was despite Matt Cassel taking 47 sacks in 2008, the most in the league, on a brutal 8.3% of his dropbacks. Similarly, when Brady took over starting quarterback duties from Jameis Winston for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2020, the team's sack totals fell to 22 from 47 in 2019, and rates plummeted to 3.4% from 7.0%. Tebow, Cassel, and Winston were all more classically mobile than Brady and Manning, but mobility can often mean sack creation rather than avoidance.

In spite of his complaints, the reality is the Seahawks consistently made massive investments to surround Wilson with talent, from trading away treasure troves of draft capital for stars like Jimmy Graham, Percy Harvin, and Duane Brown, to handing out massive deals to players like Doug Baldwin and Tyler Lockett. And for all the lamenting over the Seahawks' play-calling and inability to block, they've consistently run the ball well; they've rumbled to over 2000 yards in seven of his 10 seasons. It's not for a total void of institutional competence that Wilson has only led one top-five scoring offense over his career to Brady's 13 and Manning's 12.

It remains to be seen who will prove the winner in the Seattle Seahawks/Russell Wilson divorce. It will likely take years for the Seahawks to rebuild themselves as a contender, and Wilson's long-term upside in Denver remains to be seen. Still, whoever comes out the victor of this week's Broncos versus Seahawks Monday Night Football game will be off to an awful strong start.

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