While Russell Wilson insists he’s only focused on the now, the chatter indicating his potential exit from Seattle has reached volumes difficult to ignore. With NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport confirming that the eight-time Pro Bowl “would okay” a trade to one of three teams — including the New York Giants — many are starting to brainstorm ways to get Russ to East Rutherford.
Of course, acquiring a player of Wilson’s caliber, even after what some may consider a semi-down year, would come at a catastrophic cost. Not to mention, he boasts an average salary of $35 million through the 2023 season. With the Giants’ salary cap for next season in less than ideal shape (projected to have the NFL’s fifth-lowest cap space in 2022 per Spotrac), USA Today’s Dan Benton believes it may be wise for New York to dangle a player-heavy package to Seattle, as opposed to the typical multi-pick route.
“The Giants are among the NFL’s richest in terms of draft assets, but perhaps Gettleman or the incoming GM value them more than some of the team’s current players,” he wrote. “Considering the Giants will find themselves in salary cap trouble in 2022, it might make more sense for them to dangle a player package out there in any potential trade for Wilson.”
Saquon Barkley Headlines Potential Trade Chips
Should the Giants take this route, Benton named a slew of potential trade bait to entice Seattle — some big named, perceived franchise cornerstones, might we add.
“Some possibilities include quarterback Daniel Jones, safety Xavier McKinney, wide receiver Sterling Shepard, running back Saquon Barkley, cornerback James Bradberry or even a sign-and-trade situation with tight end Evan Engram,” Benton noted. “In some of these cases, losing the player would be tough. In others, perhaps not so much — and it would also help clear the salary-cap space needed to take on Wilson’s deal (or any potential new deal).”
Trading Barkley, in particular, has become more and more discussed as we near the end of what has been a rather disappointing season for the former No. 2 overall pick. In his return from ACL surgery, Barkley has continued to struggle remaining on the football field, missing four games this season due to an ankle sprain. When available, the results haven’t been all too promising. While he continues to show glimpses of his once blue-chip self (namely totaling 220 yards from scrimmage and three touchdowns from Week 3 through Week 4), he’s failed to eclipse 64 yards rushing in any game in 2021 and has accounted for just two rushing touchdowns over his last 11 games.
Still, he’s the type of high-end athlete whose upside is bound to intrigue a team like Seattle, who has readily built successful teams around their run game. Not to mention their starting running back, Chris Carson, is currently on injured reserve with a neck injury, while Rashaad Penny is an impending free agent.
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While Barkley is obviously the most name-worthy of the bunch, he may not be the most damning potential loss. Instead, you could make the case that honor goes to McKinney, who has played at an All-Pro level in his first fully healthy NFL season. With five interceptions on the year (tied for third-most in NFL) and still just 22 years old, McKinney has tossed his name into the conversation of football’s premier ballhawk from the safety position.
Beyond McKinney and Barkley, the other names wouldn’t sting all too much. Of course, you’d like to keep Bradberry, but he has regressed in his second season in New York and boasts a cap hit of $21.9 million in 2022. At 6-foot-1-inches and 212-pounds, Bradberry is the type of big-bodied corner that the Seahawks have regularly gravitated towards. Retaining Jones wouldn’t be necessary should the Giants land Wilson, while Shepard is likely a cut candidate this offseason anyway.
It’s evident acquiring Wilson will cost a boatload. And that’s if Seattle is even ultimately willing to entertain a deal. Yet, the Giants’ current structure of building through the draft and free agency hasn’t gotten the job done — not for the past decade. If Matthew Stafford and Tom Brady have shown us anything over the past two seasons, it’s that a great quarterback makes a world of difference. With that in mind, it may be time for the G-Men to swing for the fences.