The first big transaction of the 2022 NFL season has gone down, as the Seattle Seahawks have agreed to trade Russell Wilson to the Denver Broncos in exchange for Noah Fant, Shelby Harris, Drew Lock and multiple draft picks.
The move sets up Denver with a standout quarterback for the first time since Peyton Manning was under center in 2015. It also provides a massive value boost for a Denver skill position group that includes Jerry Jeudy, Courtland Sutton and Javonte Williams.
Consider: Since Manning’s retirement, Denver ranks 29th in the NFL with 191 offensive touchdowns (31st with 115 passing TDs), whereas Wilson’s Seattle offense ranks fifth with 273 offensive scores during the same span (fourth with 193 passing TDs).
Wilson missed three games during a rough season for Seattle last season, but he was still a productive player when active, finishing 10th in QBR (54.7) and fifth in YPA (7.8) while posting the second-highest average depth of throw (9.7) . Wilson failed to finish as a top-12 fantasy QB for the first time in his 10-season career, part of which can be attributed to career-low rushing production (43 carries, 183 yards, 2 TDs).
Wilson is now 33 years old and likely won’t rebound in a big way as a rusher, but he figures to be in for another big season as a passer. Whereas DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett were a terrific one-two wide receiver duo in Seattle, Wilson now has one of the best, youngest and deepest groups of targets in the league. In addition to the aforementioned Sutton, Jeudy and Williams, he’ll have Tim Patrick, Albert Okwuegbunam and KJ Hamler. Wilson should be valued as a QB1 with top-five upside.
Sutton, who was a 1,000-yard receiver in 2019, and 2020 first-round pick Jeudy will see a big boost in production and are well positioned for, at least, weekly WR2/3 production. The arrival of Wilson and new head coach Nathaniel Hackett will surely mean more passing for what was one of the league’s run-heaviest offenses in 2021, but that shouldn’t be a problem for Williams. The second-year back will enjoy more scoring opportunities in the Wilson-led offense and he’s a lock for more touches this season, regardless of where free agent Melvin Gordon III lands. A fourth-round pick in 2020, Okwuegbunam has flashed as a situational player the past two seasons and, with Wilson in and Fant out, he’s now positioned for a major breakout in 2022. Consider him a good TE2 with room for more.
As for Seattle, it goes without saying that we need to downgrade the skill position players across the board. Lock is not the answer at quarterback and a rookie is unlikely to move the needle much in the short term. Metcalf and Lockett should both be downgraded and figure to land in the WR3 vicinity, though identifying who exactly will be under center will be key in locking down the duo’s value. Fant’s value takes a hit with the trade, but the 24-year-old remains one of the best athletes at the position and he won’t be on short targets. He’s best valued as a fringe TE1 for now.