On September 7, ESPN published a story by Brady Henderson that offered further insight into the drama.
Story Says Russell Wilson Believed Pete Carroll Cost Him a Chance at the 2019 MVP
According to Henderson, Wilson was “livid” at Pete Carroll for taking his foot off the gas in a 27-20 win over the Atlanta Falcons on October 27, 2019. Wilson was a candidate for the MVP that year, and he believed Carroll’s decision hurt his chances to win it.
“Leading up to an October 2019 game at the Atlanta Falcons, Wilson’s fast start had made him one of the prime early-season contenders for MVP, an award he badly wanted to win,” Henderson wrote.
Wilson had already thrown for 1,945 yards and 15 touchdowns against only one interception through seven games as the Seahawks raced out to a 5-2 start.
“With the Baltimore Ravens and eventual winner Lamar Jackson on a bye, this was Wilson’s chance to pull ahead,” Henderson wrote. “He threw two touchdowns as the Seahawks jumped out to a 24-0 halftime lead but attempted only five passes in the second half.
“Afterward, according to a source who spoke with the quarterback, Wilson was livid at how Carroll had taken his foot off the gas, believing it had cost him a chance to grab hold of the MVP race.”
Jackson was named the unanimous MVP after leading the league in passing touchdowns (36) and QBR (83.0), while also rushing for 1,206 yards and seven touchdowns. Wilson went on to 4,110 yards, 31 touchdowns and six interceptions and was named a second-team All-Pro and finished fifth in the voting for Offensive Player of the Year. He still has not won an MVP award.
Caroll Did Not Want to Trade Wilson to the Broncos
Despite their differences, Caroll did not want to trade away Wilson, Henderson wrote.
“Wilson was open to playing elsewhere,” he wrote. “Carroll, though, had no interest in letting him go. Their football differences aside, he had backed Wilson from the get-go — first making the bold decision to name him the starter as a third-round rookie in 2012 over free agent addition Matt Flynn, then sticking by Wilson amid his early-season growing pains despite public criticism that Seattle was wasting a championship-caliber defense.”
A Seahawks front office source told Henderson that he was unsure if Carroll was going to be OK with the trade.
“I always thought Pete was not going to be OK with it,” the source said, according to the story. “Like, it would just be tough for him, because Russ was Pete’s guy for a long time. Obviously, all the stuff that happened, Pete would always back Russ, that caused all that friction with the defense. So I just thought Pete would have a tough time doing it.”
On September 12, the Broncos will kick their regular season off against the Seahawks, and the two teams are in polar opposite positions. The Broncos will be officially beginning the Wilson era, and they have championship aspirations. Meanwhile, the Seahawks have now begun a massive rebuild; they have a stockpile of draft picks and young players.