Could Russell Wilson go to Cowboys? His contract is an obstacle ... and other teams might fit better

Nate Davis

It seems like Russell Wilson's name bubbles up around this time every year – the quarterback however briefly linked to the NFL's winter hot stove as a superstar who might be traded.

Obviously, that's never happened. And it typically doesn't take long for Wilson rumors to die down, No. 3 firmly established as the greatest QB in Seattle Seahawks history after just nine seasons.

But things could be getting grungy up in the Pacific Northwest, The Athletic detailing what appears to be a growing rift between Wilson and the Seahawks in a story published Thursday. Evidently, Wilson's camp has even discussed potential trade scenarios, including at least four specific landing spots: The Las Vegas Raiders, Miami Dolphins, New Orleans Saints and New York Jets. ESPN subsequently reported the Chicago Bears and Dallas Cowboys were on his wish list, along with the Raiders and Saints, but did not mention the Dolphins or Jets.

Could Seahawks QB Russell Wilson soon be a Dallas Cowboy? Never say never.

Does this mean Wilson will soon find himself in a new uniform? Recent cap-busting trades of Carson Wentz and Jared Goff underscore that you should never discount even the wildest trade scenarios in the ever-evolving NFL. But moving Wilson seems like more a potential eventuality than an imminent development.

Why? Let's break it down:

Wilson's contract

When he agreed to his four-year, $140 million extension in 2019, it was the richest deal in NFL history in terms of average annual ($35 million per year) compensation. Wilson has since been overtaken by Patrick Mahomes and Deshaun Watson but remains one of the league's most richly paid players.

However the pact, which took effect last season, also doesn't make him easy to offload. Dealing Wilson now would force $39 million in dead money onto Seattle's salary cap – and that would surpass the record amount of dead money ($33.8 million) the Wentz trade just triggered onto the Philadelphia Eagles' bottom line. (Of course, this is a different NFL given just weeks prior to that, the Los Angles Rams dealt Goff despite the $22.2 million hit they incurred, the pre-Wentz high-water mark.)

Still, for a Seahawks team that's long been built to win now, hard to see them willingly take that kind of financial hit while simultaneously inviting quarterback chaos by dealing one of the league's five best passers.

Wilson's contract ... again

The seven-time Pro Bowler had the foresight to get a full no-trade clause embedded into his agreement, meaning he has to approve any potential deal Seattle finds for him.

It's great for Wilson from a career-control standpoint, which is the whole purpose of the clause. However if he really wants out of town, it also limits what the Seahawks can (and might be willing) to do. In that vein, let's explore the (four? six?) teams apparently on his radar.

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Chicago Bears

GM Ryan Pace isn't shy about trading high draft picks – remember, he sent the Raiders two first-rounders in the Khalil Mack deal in 2018. He'd probably have to be willing to ship Seattle at least a trio of Round 1 choices and maybe add sweetener. Like most teams, the Bears would have to create a chunk of room to accommodate Wilson's contract – but that might be a no-brainer given the thin ice coach Matt Nagy and, especially, Pace appear to be on after failing to turn Mitchell Trubisky into a star.

Las Vegas Raiders

Is Wilson better than Silver and Black QB Derek Carr? Sure, few – aside from (maybe) Carr – would debate the point. But here on earth, the Raiders are currently $9 million overspent on salaries, per Over The Cap, and that's including Carr – and he pulls down a relatively reasonable (by quarterback standards) salary of $25 million per season. The Raiders also don't have a slew of near-term first-round picks to offer Seattle, nor are offensive issues really what's holding them back. Rewind the clock nine years and offer them a Legion of Boom entering its prime, then maybe there's a realistic arrangement to be reached.

Miami Dolphins

If they're interested, they might be the best team to engage in the Wilson bonanza. The Fins have two first-rounders, including No. 3 overall, to offer this year plus QB Tua Tagovailoa, who's coming off an average rookie campaign after being the No. 5 selection of the 2020 draft. However he's got plenty of potential, the can-do, competitive persona Wilson has historically exhibited and would allow the Seahawks to reset their quarterback pay scale and build up the remainder of the roster – which just happens to be the formula they used in 2013 when Wilson, then a second-year player, helped a Legion-of-Boom driven team win Super Bowl 48.

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New Orleans Saints

If Wilson wants to leave this year, forget it. The Saints are still nearly $70 million above the cap and don't pick earlier than 28th in this spring's draft. If Wilson can wait a year to take over for Drew Bees, it would help to give Sean Payton and Co. time to overhaul their roster and wage scale.

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New York Jets

Another good option for Seattle if a divorce is unavoidable. The NYJ could offer QB Sam Darnold, perhaps their first-round picks this year and next ... and/or – boom – return the 2021 and 2022 Round 1 selections the Seahawks surrendered last summer in the transaction for safety Jamal Adams. It's another route that would allow for a needed salary reboot in the Emerald City while allowing Pete Carroll and GM John Schneider to expeditiously retool on the fly.

Who else makes sense?

The Seahawks would almost certainly be happy to discuss trading Wilson to the Jacksonville Jaguars, who own this year's No. 1 (read: Trevor Lawrence) pick, Houston Texans – for Watson? – Carolina Panthers, New England Patriots, New York Giants, Washington Football Team or Denver Broncos. If you can make the best bid, give us a call ... just know, Russell has to provide the OK first.

Finally, the Dallas Cowboys

America's Team was included as a preferred Wilson destination by ESPN on Thursday afternoon. It's a rumor likely to light the internet on fire. The Cowboys will almost certainly have to franchise QB Dak Prescott for a second straight year, this time to the tune of $37.7 million, so Wilson's contract and the three years of certainty it brings probably look palatable by comparison. 

Even by tagging Prescott ahead of the March 9 deadline to franchise players, Dallas could still work out a deal to send him to Seattle – but that's the sticky part. The Seahawks would need some assurance they weren't getting Prescott on just a one-year rental, however working out an extension for him – if this just boiled down to swapping QBs – gets pretty challenging given the unavoidable massive dead-cap charge dealing Wilson would precipitate.

But in the current NFL environment of wild wheeling and dealing, never say never ... especially considering Wilson's wife, singer Ciara, is a Texas native.


Follow USA TODAY Sports' Nate Davis on Twitter @ByNateDavis

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