On Tuesday the Seattle Seahawks decided to trade Russell Wilson and a 4th round pick to the Denver Broncos in exchange for Shelby Harris, Drew Lock, Noah Fant, two first round picks, two second round picks, and a fifth. In this article we will be looking at what the implications of this trade means for both teams and their plans going forward. How aggressive a QB is on third and fourth down was calculated by taking air yards minus yards to go.
On one side of the trade, the Denver Broncos received what could be considered their franchise quarterback. After Peyton Manning retired the front office has struggled to find his replacement. Since 2015, the Broncos have had 9 different QBs attempt over 50 passes in a season. Now that they have Russell Wilson, that all could change.
Let’s take a deeper dive into exactly what Wilson can bring to what has been a relatively stagnant offense. In 2020 and 2021 the Seahawks passing offense ranked 7th and 2nd in terms of air EPA. The Denver Broncos ranked 10th and 16th, both behind the Seahawks. Based on this, the Broncos could see a considerable improvement in regards to how the passing offense could help to increase their total EPA.
Another way in which Wilson improves their offense is through his aggressiveness. Throughout his career he has been known as someone who pushes the ball deep and generates big plays. If we look at Wilson’s average air yards per throw you can see he is considerably higher than almost all of the Broncos QBs from the past 5 years. Only Paxton Lynch is higher.
He also is very aggressive on third down. Last season, Teddy Bridgewater was very conservative on 3rd and 4th down averaging -0.15 yards behind the sticks. Whereas Russell Wilson averaged 2.93 yards past the sticks the last 5 years. More aggressiveness on the late downs is important because it usually can equate to more first downs and extended opportunities to score points.
Finally Russell Wilson can contribute to a higher EPA. Over the last 5 seasons he has had an average EPA of 0.07 while the QBs for the Broncos, except for Teddy Bridgewater, have had a negative EPA. All in all, the trade seems to have very positive implications for the Broncos offense that has really struggled to find consistent QB play and QBs that can help them win games.
On the other side of the trade the Seahawks received Drew Lock, Noah Fant, Shelby Harris, two 1st round picks, two 2nd round picks, and a fifth. For the Seahawks, it seems almost pertinent that this will become a rebuilding year for them. Releasing Bobby Wagner hours after this trade went through, it seems they are heading in the direction of retooling and filling in holes that kept them from the playoffs last season. If this is their plan, then they certainly have the tools necessary to build up their team. They got the 9th pick in the NFL draft from the Broncos which makes up for the 1st they gave up to receive Jamal Adams. There is a good chance that the Seahawks could draft a QB at 9 to help jump start their rebuild. One quarterback they could look at is Malik Willis. He certainly seems to have a lot of potential. They could then use the remaining picks to bolster their offensive line or focus on the defense. For next season, it is likely that the Seahawks offensive performance will decline. If they choose to start Drew Lock, they’ll likely see a significant decrease in offensive production as Lock is a below-average QB with a career EPA of -0.04. Maybe Pete Carroll would help his development but that is yet to be seen. Overall, this trade helps the Seahawks rebuild for the future, but if you’re a Seahawks fan you could be in for a long few seasons.
This trade has positive implications for both Denver and Seattle. The Broncos get their franchise guy and the Seahawks get the necessary tools for a successful rebuild. Obviously time will tell to see how this trade plays out but it seems to be great for both teams.