Russell Wilson Rumors: Seahawks QB Offered for Browns' 2018 NFL Draft No. 1 Pick

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistMay 13, 2020

Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson warms up before an NFL divisional playoff football game against the Green Bay Packers Sunday, Jan. 12, 2020, in Green Bay, Wis. (AP Photo/Matt Ludtke)
Matt Ludtke/Associated Press

Did the Seattle Seahawks dangle franchise quarterback Russell Wilson to the Cleveland Browns in 2018, hoping to acquire the top overall pick?

NBC Sports' Chris Simms told Mike Florio on ProFootballTalk Overtime that he heard those discussions took place (2:20 mark):

"I'll say this, and I think I've told you this before. I had heard a rumor from some people that I trusted a few years ago that Seattle called Cleveland when they had the No. 1 pick, and there was this rumor going around the NFL that they offered Russell Wilson to the Browns for the No. 1 pick the year they drafted Baker Mayfield. I never followed up, but I just know I had people tell me that that was something people were hearing. ... I don't know how serious those discussions were."

Florio speculated that any such discussions could have been Seattle simply using a negotiation tactic ahead of the veteran quarterback's pending free agency at the time. 

"'Russell, we're getting close to doing a new contract,'" he said, mimicking the message he believed the Seahawks might have been sending. "We're either going to work it out, or we'll trade you...to Cleveland. Your choice."

Wilson eventually got his monster contract extension, signing four-year, $140-million in April 2019, though not before rumors linked him to the New York Giants. Those rumors suggested that he and his wife, Ciara, wanted to live in the Big Apple. 

That, too, may have simply been contract posturing. 

Trading a proven veteran like Wilson—a Super Bowl champion who at the time of the 2018 NFL draft was a four-time Pro Bowler (and has six total for his career)—would have caused a seismic uproar in Seattle, even if the team received the top overall pick as a part of a trade package. Star quarterbacks are hard to find, and giving away one in his prime for an unproven rookie is an enormous gamble.


Highest-graded QBs since 2012 1. Tom Brady - 96.6 2. Drew Brees - 95.6 3. Aaron Rodgers - 95.0 4. Patrick Mahomes - 93.7 4. Russell Wilson - 93.7 Wilson is the only one with 0 NFL MVP votes https://t.co/kO6xpp07Nf

PFF Fantasy Football @PFF_Fantasy

Most TDs on throws beyond 20+ yards since 2012 1. Russell Wilson - 83 2. Drew Brees - 69 3. Aaron Rodgers - 62 4. Ben Roethlisberger - 60 https://t.co/96GYranu6H

Mayfield hasn't exactly lit up the NFL in his first two seasons, either, throwing for 3,827 yards, 22 touchdowns and 21 interceptions last year while completing just 59.4 percent of his passes. He may ultimately grow into an excellent NFL quarterback, but in the short term, he would have been an enormous downgrade for Seattle. 

Granted, it seems hard to imagine that Seattle ever seriously entertained the idea. Putting out rumors in a game of contract chicken is one thing. Actually getting close to trading away a superstar quarterback is another.