The 2022 Russell Wilson power play has unofficially begun

The game is afoot. Again.

That’s the best way to interpret a Sunday Splash! report regarding the situation in Seattle. On the surface, it looks like a fairly obvious exercise in dot collecting. At a deeper level, it’s hard not to read the item from Adam Schefter of ESPN.com as the opening move in a 2022 version of the chess match that Wilson ultimately lost in 2021.

Remember, it was Schefter to whom Wilson’s agent, Mark Rodgers, released a stunning statement last year, after Wilson not-so-subtly aired grievances to Dan Patrick and sparked widespread talk of Wilson wanting out. Rodgers told Schefter, on the record, that Wilson wants to stay in Seattle, but that he’d waive his no-trade clause for the Raiders, Bears, Cowboys, or Saints. The all-in move supposedly sparked an effort by the Bears to wrest Wilson from the Seahawks, but Seattle held firm.

Similar reports already have emerged this year, regarding Wilson’s supposedly willingness to waive his no-trade clause again. As recently explained, however, it’s way too early to make those decisions. Coaching changes and other quarterback moves will close and open doors for Wilson. Indeed, whether the Seahawks keep coach Pete Carroll will become the first key decision point on the flow chart that will determine Wilson’s address in 2022.

For now, it’s obvious that something is going to happen. Or, more accurately, that Wilson and his agent want it to happen. “There is a league-wide feeling, according to sources, that Carroll and Wilson will not be together again next season,” Schefter writes.

That’s a loose and unconventional way to couch supposedly hard and clear news. Where does a “league-wide feeling” come from? And who are the “sources” that are privy to such universal observations?

To the extent that a “league-wide feeling” of a looming divorce between Wilson and Carroll currently exists, it comes from Wilson’s obvious discontent after a 12-4 season, coupled with the team’s significant regression in 2022. Carroll recently blamed the struggles on the finger injury that Wilson suffered in Week Five, which caused him to miss three games and to struggle (whether Wilson will admit it or not) after his return.

While somewhat subtle, the trail of breadcrumbs leading back to Camp Wilson appear in the absence of any acknowledgement in Schefter’s article that Wilson hasn’t been as good as he’s been in the past. Beyond the obvious fact that he doesn’t move like he once did, he had three glaring misfires in key moments of a Week 15 loss to the Rams, the defeat that sealed the team’s fate for 2021. Instead, all that appears in Schefter’s article regarding Wilson’s 2021 performance is this: “Wilson missed three games in October because of a finger injury but has been productive this season, completing 65% of his passes for 2,639 yards and 18 touchdowns with just five interceptions.”

The numbers show that he’s been productive. But he hasn’t been as productive as he once was. That will be a major factor in the final decision-making process. Will the Seahawks still want three first-round picks or more for a player who possibly is descending? Will teams with options elsewhere (such as Aaron Rodgers and Deshaun Watson) not pursue Wilson as aggressively? And how will his performance in 2021 affect any trade negotiations in 2022?

Schefter’s article has that angle covered, too: “[T]here are some who believe Wilson’s next 10 years could [be] equally prolific — and he said this past week that he wants to win three more Super Bowls.”

Fine, but there are some who have questions as to whether Wilson is sliding, especially in comparison to younger quarterbacks who have raised the bar in recent years, from Patrick Mahomes to Lamar Jackson to Kyler Murray to Justin Herbert to Joe Burrow.

Regardless of where Russell Wilson currently ranks and where his career will go from here, Schefter’s report is a sign that the situation will soon be coming to a head once again. Or, more accurately, that Wilson and his agent will once again want it to come to a head — and that it will result this time in something other than one more year of Wilson and Carroll together in Seattle.