RENTON, Wash. — Russell Wilson joining several of his veteran Seattle Seahawks teammates in reporting for the final week of organized team activities was the latest indication that, at least for now, the tension between the organization and its quarterback has subsided.
So, too, was everything Wilson said Thursday as he spoke with reporters for the first time since his public criticism led to a drama-filled start to the offseason as well as calls from other NFL teams about a potential trade.
Not that Wilson, as frustrated as he was at the time, wanted to be anywhere else.
“Obviously I love Seattle, I love playing here,” he said Thursday after the Seahawks’ 10th and final OTA. “I’ve had a great career here so far. I’ve always wanted to play here for my full career, obviously. I think there was some unfortunate frustrations after the season. Obviously you want to win it all and do it all and do everything you can. I think everybody on our team does. You want to win it, and I think, unfortunately, I think it got a little blown out of proportion a little bit.”
Two days after the Super Bowl and a month after the Seahawks’ latest early exit from the playoffs, Wilson said he was frustrated with all the hits he’s taken and stated his desire for more say in personnel moves. Those comments caught the Seahawks off guard; the remarks came after Wilson and coach Pete Carroll had worked closely together in choosing Shane Waldron as the team’s new offensive coordinator.
The drama reached its peak later in February when Wilson’s agent, Mark Rodgers, told ESPN’s Adam Schefter that the quarterback would accept a trade to only four teams. Wilson, who has a no-trade clause, said Thursday that was made public because he wanted to set the record straight that he did not request a trade and — with the rumor mill buzzing — to clarify where he would play if Seattle were to deal him.
General manager John Schneider said in April that while he received calls on Wilson, he never “actively negotiated” with anyone.
“There was a lot of people, there was a whole thing saying that I had requested a trade, and that’s just not true,” Wilson said Thursday. “I didn’t request a trade. I think everything kind of started from there, and then obviously tons of teams were calling. … I didn’t really want to go anywhere else. I wanted to play in Seattle, but if I had to go somewhere, these are the teams I would go to, consider. … I had a great conversation with Coach Carroll. I had a really great conversation with John, too. Coach Carroll and I spent a lot of time together one-on-one. We’re here to do what we’re meant to do and that’s to win it all. I’m excited.”
Wilson said those conversations made his relationships with Carroll and Schneider stronger. As for his offensive line, Wilson said he didn’t intend his comments about his pass protection as criticism of his linemen’s play, that they didn’t take them as such and that he thus didn’t need to have any conversations to clear the air.
That group returns four of five starters from last season. The exception is right guard Gabe Jackson, whom Seattle acquired for a fifth-round pick from the Las Vegas Raiders. Wilson called Jackson a “spectacular football player” and said he doesn’t know if that trade was the result of the public pressure he put on the team to beef up its O-line.
The Seahawks gave Jackson a new deal that lowered his cap charge and, for the first time under Schneider and Carroll, added void years to several contracts in order to ease their cap constraints. To that end, Wilson said he’s willing to convert his salary to a signing bonus, as he did in 2017, to make way for another addition. He even brought up the possibility to Carroll. The Seahawks, however, are reluctant to restructure Wilson’s deal because of future cap ramifications.
Wilson and several other Seahawks veterans reported earlier this week after not taking part in in-person work for most of the voluntary offseason program. Wilson said they wanted to give themselves a ramp-up to next week’s mandatory minicamp. With his participation limited to virtual meetings (as well as makeshift practices with Seahawks skill players at his San Diego-area home), Wilson hadn’t met Waldron face to face until Monday.
Waldron, a former Los Angeles Rams assistant, is installing an offense that is expected to borrow heavily from Sean McVay’s system. That includes leaning into the fast tempo that Wilson has long favored.
“He’s got a great understanding of the game,” Wilson said. “For us to be together is super exciting. I had a great conversation with him, several conversations along the way with him during the process. I really believe in him. I believe in this football team.”
Wilson, who’s under contract for three more years, had an interesting answer when asked whether the uncertainty about his future could return next offseason.
“I think anytime in sports, obviously things can change,” he said. “That’s just the reality. Everybody knows that. But I think that for me, my heart of hearts, I love this city, I love this place, I love everything about it. … Ultimately, I love the fans, I love my teammates, I love this coaching staff, I love this building. So every time I come up here, I get excited, just to get ready to go again. Every morning I wake up, I wake up to win and wake up to win another Super Bowl for the Seattle Seahawks. That’s my mission.
“I’ve always been able to compartmentalize, from the highest of the highs on life to the lowest of lows sometimes. The reality is that my mind is so focused on us doing it, doing it again for this city and us winning it all. It takes a journey; it takes a lot of hard work; it takes a lot of studying; it takes a lot of great moments — some tough ones, too, along the way. But I know we can do it again. So for me, personally, I hope I play my whole career here.”