Speaking as frankly as he ever has in his nine-year NFL career, Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson said Tuesday he is frustrated by the amount of times he has been hit and expressed his desire to be more involved with the team's personnel decisions.
"Like any player, you never want to get hit," Wilson told reporters via Zoom. "That's the reality of playing this position; ask any quarterback who wants to play this game. But at the same time, it's part of the job and everything else. I think that the reality is that I've definitely been hit. I've been sacked almost 400 times, so we've got to get better. I've got to find ways to get better too."
Asked if he is frustrated with the Seahawks, Wilson said with a laugh: "I'm frustrated [about] getting hit too much. I'm frustrated with that part of it. At the end of the day, you want to win."
Those comments echoed what Wilson said earlier in the day on "The Dan Patrick Show," marking the first time he has publicly expressed this degree of displeasure with his pass protection or any other aspect of the organization that drafted him in 2012. His comments come on the heels of an NFL Network report that multiple teams have called the Seahawks about a possible trade for the eight-time Pro Bowler.
According to ESPN's Jeremy Fowler, those calls were non-starters for the Seahawks, who have made it clear to suitors that Wilson won't be dealt. Trading Wilson before June 1 would trigger $39 million in dead-money charges against Seattle's 2021 salary cap. He has three years left on the four-year, $140 million extension he signed in April 2019. That contract includes a no-trade clause that Wilson would have to waive in order to be dealt.
Wilson has been sacked 394 times in 144 regular-season games. According to ESPN Stats & Information research, that's the most in a player's first nine seasons since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger. Randall Cunningham is next at 366.
Wilson's 47 sacks in 2020 were the third most in the NFL, behind Carson Wentz (50) and Deshaun Watson (49). He was sacked five more times and pressured on 50% of his dropbacks in Seattle's wild-card loss to the visiting Los Angeles Rams, which marked the fifth time the Seahawks have failed to advance past the divisional round in as many trips to the playoffs since they nearly repeated as Super Bowl champions during their 2014 campaign. The Seahawks were ninth best in ESPN's pass block win rate (61.9%) this past season, and they rank eighth since 2017 (59.2%), which is indicative of how some of Wilson's sacks are a function of his propensity to extend plays.
Wilson, 32, acknowledged as much when he was asked by Patrick about his sack total.
"I think that sometimes you hold onto it a little bit just because you're looking for that play and you find it, but also so many of those times it turns into touchdowns too," he said. "But you never want to be sacked that many times. Four-hundred times basically is way too many -- 400 too many. So I think that's a big thing that we've got to fix. That's got to be fixed and has to be at the end of the day, because my goal is to play 10 to 15 more years."
Wilson said the difference in Sunday's Super Bowl LV was the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' ability to protect Tom Brady, who was sacked once and hit twice in the Bucs' 31-9 win over the Kansas City Chiefs. Tampa Bay had three sacks and eight hits on Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes.
During his teleconference, which was set up for Wilson to answer questions about winning the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award, he brought up pass protection when asked if he trusts the Seahawks' front office to build a championship roster. He said he loves playing for Seattle and that, "I've always put my trust in the Seahawks trying to do whatever it takes to win, and hopefully, that will continue. I think that's a key part. I think part of that is how we go about the protection part of it."
The Seahawks have four-time Pro Bowl left tackle Duane Brown and right tackle Brandon Shell each under contract for one more season. Right guard Damien Lewis, a third-round pick in 2020, was named to the Pro Football Writers Association's All-Rookie Team. Left guard Mike Iupati and center Ethan Pocic are scheduled to become unrestricted free agents.
Wilson referred to Brown as an "amazing" player during his interview with Patrick and said Seattle's trade for Brown in 2017 was something Wilson badly wanted.
Wilson cited Brady, Peyton Manning and Drew Brees as other top quarterbacks who have or have had the kind of input in personnel decisions that he desires.
"I want to be able to be involved, because at the end of the day, it's your legacy, it's your team's legacy, it's the guys you get to go into the huddle with -- and at the end of the day, those guys you've got to trust," Wilson told Patrick. "When you think about one of the reasons why Tom went to Tampa was because he felt like he could trust those guys and [coach Bruce Arians] was going to give him the opportunity. ... You think about guys like LeBron [James], he was able to be around great players that he can trust.
"I think for me, any time you bring free agents in or other players, you want the best players, guys who love the game, guys who want to be a part of that. And as a player, you kind of know that, you get to be around Pro Bowls, you get to kind of see these guys, you get to be in the huddle with the linemen or the receivers or you get to be around defensive guys. So you kind of build that over time, and you get to see who can really play. As a player, you really know. I think that relationship is really key, and that dialogue, especially being a veteran player, that dialogue is really important."
Asked if he is or has been involved in those conversations, Wilson replied, "Not as much." Asked if he wants to be, he said, "I think it helps to be involved more. But I think that dialogue should happen more often, in my opinion."
Sources told ESPN that Seahawks coach Pete Carroll involved Wilson in the team's recent search for a new offensive coordinator, which ended with the hiring of former Los Angeles Rams passing game coordinator Shane Waldron. Wilson had made it known publicly that he wanted his voice heard in that process.
"I think Shane's going to be a great coach," Wilson said. "He's got great knowledge of the game. He's a good person. You could tell he just has that kind of 'it' factor and wants to be great. We can't talk ball and can't do all that, really. That's the one thing we're not really able to do as much because of the rules and all that stuff. But I think he's going to be a great offensive coordinator.
"He's got everything you would want in terms of his knowledge of the game, his experience, especially being with [Rams head coach] Sean McVay and Sean having so much experience in that tree and everything else. He's got some good stuff to him."
Of teams calling the Seahawks about a potential trade, Wilson told Patrick: "Yeah, I definitely believe that they've gotten calls, for sure. I think that any time you're a player that tries to produce every week and has done it consistently, I think people are going to call, for sure, and it's part of the process."
Asked if he's available, Wilson said: "I'm not sure if I'm available or not. That's a Seahawks' question. But I think more than anything else, I think at the end of the day, you want to win. ... You play this game to be the best in the world. You know what I hate: I hate sitting there watching other guys play the game. There's nothing worse."
Wilson had a laugh when asked by Patrick about the look on his face when the Super Bowl LV broadcast showed him and his wife watching the game with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell from a Raymond James Stadium suite.
"There's a picture of Ciara and Roger talking; I'm sitting there pissed off," he said. "I'm watching this game, wishing that I was in there playing. I think that ultimately you watch the games and you want to do everything you can to be there. That's why we play this game ...
"And I think that the reality of professional sports is things happen, things change. I'm not sure how long I'll play in Seattle. I think, hopefully, it can be forever. But things change, obviously, along the way. I think you focus on what you can control every day and try to be the best version of yourself and ultimately try to win championships. I think that's why I play this game."