When a team trades the best quarterback in franchise history, it's fair to expect that a rebuild is coming. But that's not exactly the path the Seattle Seahawks chose after trading Russell Wilson to the Denver Broncos. It's actually a strange situation to be in, because the roster is far from being truly competitive, but most of the moves made by Pete Carroll and John Schneider don't indicate a long-term approach.
"Things change," Carroll said after the trade, in March. "There was a long period in there working on it. I didn't have the intention of going crazy, but we looked at the opportunity. Once we got a good look at it, there was reason. We got a really good deal, so we went ahead and made it. It took a long time to get to that, though. We had a long process where I didn't think we would do it. It was such a complicated trade to make."
The Seahawks ended up with two first-round (2022, 2023), two second-round picks (2022, 2023), and a fifth-rounder (2022) for Wilson and a fourth-rounder (2022). Seattle also received quarterback Drew Lock, tight end Noah Fant, and defensive lineman Shelby Harris. It's obviously a big package, but maybe not enough to guarantee a fast rebuild when a team gives up a borderline elite player in the most valuable position in football.
Pete Carroll is 70 years old, so it's relatively understandable why he would opt not to fully rebuild. Although his contract reportedly runs through 2025, he has been with the Seahawks since 2010, and it's uncertain how much longer he will stay. Furthermore, the message sent by the Seahawks' brain trust is that culturally they don't have any interest in starting over. It's important for their internal discourse to resemble a competitive team.
However, it's hard to envision competitiveness in a roster where the quarterbacks are Geno Smith, Drew Lock, and Jacob Eason. Maybe Jimmy Garoppolo ends up there, but nobody believes that he would be able to elevate a mediocre (at best) supporting cast. The Seahawks have great receivers in DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett, a good running back in Rashaad Penny, a solid (even if he wasn't worth the trade cost) safety in Jamal Adams, and some promising pieces, but not much beyond that.
Moreover, Metcalf, Lockett, and Adams are the only main pieces with longer deals — both are under contract through 2025. Lock and Geno are under contract for just one season, as is Penny. The other two players acquired in the Wilson trade, Fant and Harris, have deals through 2023.
As the Seahawks are not willing to trade their remaining building blocks for trade picks and commit to a full rebuild, the indications are that they will try to build around them. The team had the first-rounder this year, even though they didn't have their own because of the Adams trade, plus multiple seconds. Next year, the Seahawks will have multiple first and second-rounders, enough capital to move around trying to find the future at quarterback. But we still don't know if Carroll will have the patience required to develop a young QB, nor if their timeline allows that waiting period.
The Seattle Seahawks have decided to reload instead of rebuild the roster, and they are in the top 10 in projected cap space for the next two seasons, but their options and their timeline are far from clear — at least until Seattle finds another quarterback.