Dallas Cowboys: A Trade for Russell Wilson is Complicated

The Russell Wilson drama going on in Seattle has the NFL world upside down. It appears the star quarterback is not happy with where the Seattle Seahawks are as a franchise and wants to be more involved.

Reports say there is a disconnect in philosophy between himself and head coach Pete Carroll. This has led to Russell Wilson speaking out to the media about having more input in personnel decisions going forward. That may not have gone over well. Just a few weeks after those comments, more reports came out of Seattle. Reportedly Wilson told the Seahawks that he would like to stay with the team but if they were to trade him, he would only consider the Chicago Bears, Las Vegas Raiders, New Orleans Saints, and Dallas Cowboys. Wilson has a no-trade clause.

If you’re not adamant about staying, then you want out. It is possible the front office first mentioned the word trade and Russell Wilson gave them a shortlist of who they could talk to. But it is hard to imagine a team would be willing to let go of a top-five quarterback with many good years ahead of him. Not to mention the extraordinary cap hit Seattle would endure if they traded him. More on that in a second. But if the Seahawks move on from Wilson, the Dallas Cowboys appear to be the frontrunner to acquire him. There is a catch. The trade must wait until June 1.

Dead Money

Due to the structure and signing bonuses of Russell Wilson’s contract, the Seahawks will have a $32 million cap hit regardless of next season. A trade will increase the dead money hit by $7 million. That would put them over the cap as of now. But if he is traded after June 1, the Seahawks can split the cap hit with $13 million in 2021 and $26 million in 2022. The salary cap decreased this year due to the pandemic but the hope is it will increase significantly in the coming years. This complicates things because it is well after the draft.

But let’s say Seattle is fine with splitting the dead money. The Dallas Cowboys have the two best trade assets among the four teams Russell Wilson is interested in. They have Dak Prescott and the number 10 pick in the upcoming NFL draft. Luckily for Seattle, Prescott is a very good option to replace Wilson at quarterback.

Not so lucky for Dallas, they will have already taken a player with the 10th overall pick by June 1. Dallas would have to offer Seattle their first-round draft pick in 2022. It’s likely the 2022 first-round pick won’t be higher than 10 and will cost the Cowboys even more draft capital. They may have to offer their third-round pick in 2022 as well.

Too Much To Do

Seattle will likely have to cut some veterans to stay under the cap such as 35-year-old left tackle Duane Brown. Brown has one year left on his deal but cutting him would save $11 million. Seattle will likely ask for picks back to help replace these players if they haven’t already. This could cost the Dallas Cowboys another third-round pick in 2023.

The Cowboys need to think outside the box and see what player swaps they can come up with. Not only can this help Seattle with salary cap relief but the Cowboys need to get some help at positions of need after a horrific defensive season.

For the Dallas Cowboys, it starts with Michael Gallup. He’s in the last year of his rookie deal and his market value will likely be too much for the Cowboys. It is unlikely he remains with the team past 2021 as the Cowboys already have two premiere wide receivers in Amari Cooper and Ceedee Lamb. Over his first three seasons, Gallup recorded 13 touchdowns and averaged over 15 yards per catch. He has a rapport with Prescott already and Seattle could have a three-headed monster of their own with Gallup, Tyler Lockett, and D.K. Metcalf.

Boys Need Help

In return, the Cowboys would receive much-needed secondary help in free safety Quandre Diggs (no relation to Trevon Diggs) and cornerback Tre Flowers. Both are in the final year of their deals. 

Diggs is 28 years old and is coming off a pro bowl season in 2020. The former Longhorn also had a career high five interceptions and 10 passes defended last year. He recorded at least three interceptions in every season since 2017. He has also played some cornerback and strong safety.

Tre Flowers is 25 years old and saw a decrease in playing time after starting every game in 2018 and 2019. It may be worth it for the Cowboys to see what’s there as they don’t have a lot of depth in the secondary. Trading Gallup for Diggs and Flowers would save the Seahawks about $5 million in cap space.

All of this is contingent on Seattle coming to an agreement with Prescott on a long term deal. If Prescott is franchised he has until July 15 to reach a long term deal. Seattle could ease the cap hit in the beginning and back load the rest of it.

Trade Recap

To recap, the bulk of the trade could look something like this. The Dallas Cowboys receive Russell Wilson, Quandre Diggs, and Tre Flowers. The Seahawks receive Dak Prescott, Michael Gallup, 2022 first-round pick, 2022 third-round pick, 2023 third-round pick. The trickiest part still remains the Wilson cap hit on the Seahawks and maybe an obstacle that can’t be avoided this year.

Even if all of this goes down Seattle may have to make a few more minor moves to fix their cap situation. Cutting players and restructuring some deals may need to be in the work. There are a lot of pieces to the puzzle and it is up to Seattle if they want them to fit. But more personnel decisions will be made before this summer. If Russell Wilson isn’t included, the rumors could ramp up again. A lot can happen in three months.

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