Report: Russell Wilson Blamed Pete Carroll for Holding Him Back in 2019 NFL MVP Race

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured Columnist IVSeptember 7, 2022

SEATTLE, WASHINGTON - OCTOBER 07: Quarterback Russell Wilson #3 talks with head coach Pete Carroll of the Seattle Seahawks during the first half against the Los Angeles Rams at Lumen Field on October 07, 2021 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)
Steph Chambers/Getty Images

Russell Wilson was a Super Bowl champion and a nine-time Pro Bowler in his 10-year run with the Seattle Seahawks, but the absence of one accolade reportedly remained a sore point for the star quarterback.

ESPN's Brady Henderson laid out what led to Wilson's trade to the Denver Broncos this offseason, a move that was a long time coming.

According to Henderson, one minor fissure centered on the 2019 MVP race:

"Leading up to an October 2019 game at the Atlanta Falcons, Wilson's fast start had made him one of the prime early-season contenders for MVP, an award he badly wanted to win. With the Baltimore Ravens and eventual winner Lamar Jackson on a bye, this was Wilson's chance to pull ahead. He threw two touchdowns as the Seahawks jumped out to a 24-0 halftime lead but attempted only five passes in the second half.

"Afterward, according to a source who spoke with the quarterback, Wilson was livid at how [head coach Pete] Carroll had taken his foot off the gas, believing it had cost him a chance to grab hold of the MVP race."

There might have been underlying issues behind Wilson's quest for an MVP. Henderson reported Seahawks general manager John Schneider scouted Patrick Mahomes ahead of the 2017 NFL draft and then Josh Allen in 2018.

Per Henderson, people around Wilson were "f--king pissed" the franchise would consider bringing in a potential successor.

After failing to earn the NFL's highest individual honor in 2019, Wilson was again building an MVP candidacy thanks to Seattle's 5-0 start in 2020. The team then dropped three of its next four games, and Wilson threw seven interceptions over that stretch.

Two of those picks came in a 23-16 loss to the Los Angeles Rams. On the first one, Wilson moved out of the pocket and appeared to have a clear path to a first down. He attempted a pass across his body into the end zone instead, and Darious Williams made the interception.


Darious Williams picks off Russell Wilson in the end zone! <a href="https://twitter.com/RamsNFL?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@RamsNFL</a> ball!<br><br>πŸ“Ί: <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/SEAvsLAR?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#SEAvsLAR</a> on FOX<br>πŸ“±: NFL app // Yahoo Sports app: <a href="https://t.co/p1akRoFoep">https://t.co/p1akRoFoep</a> <a href="https://t.co/m9KvnOpxtt">pic.twitter.com/m9KvnOpxtt</a>

Speaking to Henderson, a member of the Seahawks front office remembered questioning after the play, "Are we trying to win games, or are we trying to win MVP?"

Henderson's report will likely provide more ammunition for Wilson's critics because one prevailing narrative throughout his time in Seattle was that the team bent over backward to accommodate him.

In 2018, Sports Illustrated's Greg Bishop and Robert Klemko reported how some within the organization believed Wilson "was both treated differently than his teammates and, in some instances, willingly stood apart from them."

That aligns with reporting from ESPN The Magazine's Seth Wickersham in 2017. Wickersham wrote the dynamic "seems to go beyond the normal jealousy aimed at most star quarterbacks."

There's no question quarterbacks are a protected class in the NFL. They make more money than anybody else on the roster, and they often receive the most credit when things go right.

That can create a delicate situation in the locker room, as the reporting on Wilson's time with the Seahawks lays out.

The 33-year-old is arguably the greatest player in franchise history and helped Seattle enjoy its most successful run ever.

But after a decade, you can understand why Carroll and Schneider might have wanted to get out of the Russell Wilson business and start anew.