November 28, 2021

Could Russell Wilson Have Been a Brown?

SEATTLE, WA - SEPTEMBER 22: Quarterback Russell Wilson #3 of the Seattle Seahawks is chased out of the pocket by linebacker Demario Davis #56 of the New Orleans Saints during the second half of a game at CenturyLInk Field on September 22, 2019 in Seattle, Washington. The Saints won 33-27. (Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images)

Russell Wilson is one of the highest-paid quarterbacks in the NFL having been paid handsomely prior to the 2019 draft by the Seahawks. However, the situation could have turned out differently had the Cleveland Browns had their way.

According to Chris Simms of Profootballtalk, the Seahawks discussed a trade with Cleveland which would have resulted in the Browns sending the 1st overall pick in 2018 to Seattle and getting Wilson in exchange.

If this proved to be true, it was likely a case of Seattle not wanting to make a significant financial commitment to Wilson if anything, having dealt the infamous ‘legion of boom’ the Hawks were staring a rebuild in the face and GM John Dorsey at the time doing due diligence to see if he could acquire a future Hall of Famer in his first year in charge.

Nonetheless, even if Simms’ scoop had any element of truth, to believe the Seahawks, one of the better ran franchises in the NFL would consider accepting, in essence, a straight-up swap (Mayfield for Wilson) is borderline laughable.

Baker Mayfield

In all likelihood, the Browns would have had to offer the fourth pick overall, which the Browns used to select Denzel Ward as well as the first pick.

In theory, it could have been even more than that, when considering the war chest of draft assets the Browns had that year. If Seattle demanded the Browns give up both of its 1st round draft picks that year and the 2nd round picks, which were used on Austin Corbett and Nick Chubb. Corbett, in hindsight, wouldn’t have been much of a loss. Chubb has developed into one of the better backs in the league and a vital cog in the Browns offense.

Maybe there is some weight behind the rumor and maybe it was something that was being discussed. At the end of the day, it could have potentially come down to what the Browns were willing to give up for a franchise quarterback or even more likely could’ve just been a negotiating tactic from the Seahawks and Wilson himself to try and force the Hawks into shelling out a handsome contract.

Wilson eventually signed a record-setting four-year $140million contract, with a $65m signing bonus and the 2018 draft proved to be franchise-changing for the Browns. Ward, Mayfield and Chubb are all key players for the Browns and enabled the Browns to keep cap flexibility while they had a quarterback under cost control.

As much as a trade of Wilson to the Browns would have had the magnitude to put the NFL world in a frenzy, if Dorsey had pulled off a trade for Wilson, it would’ve resulted in a sizeable extension like the Seahawks gave him and had consequences.

It also likely meant that it would have been virtually impossible for the Browns to be as able to add key pieces further down the road. In all likelihood, Cleveland wouldn’t have been in a position to add Odell Beckham Jr. and Oliver Vernon via trade in 2019 and Jack Conklin and Austin Hooper in free agency the following year and that leaves the question, would the Browns roster have been better with Wilson or with Mayfield?

Although Mayfield failed to live up expectations in 2019 after a strong rookie campaign, throwing for 3,827 yards, 22 touchdowns and 21 interceptions last year while completing just 59.4 percent of his passes. He possesses significant upside as shown by the backend of the 2018 campaign which almost saw the Browns sneak into the playoffs. Ultimately, he may ultimately grow into an excellent NFL quarterback and was worth the investment by Cleveland.

In the end, this feels like another wild rumor on the NFL front.

Good quarterbacks are hard to find and trading Mayfield, an unproven rookie, for a franchise gunslinger in Wilson would’ve been an enormous gamble and feels like an insurance policy on Seattle’s part if anything.

But nonetheless, the Browns, as much as they would’ve considered Wilson, they didn’t come out badly at all.

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