Commanders dodged a big-time bullet with Russell Wilson rejection

Russell Wilson
Russell Wilson / Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

The Washington Commanders dodged a big-time bullet when Pro Bowl quarterback Russell Wilson spurned their advances for a potential trade last spring.

It's no secret that the Washington Commanders have been searching high and low for a franchise quarterback over recent seasons. Suspect free-agent signings and draft picks that didn't pan out as expected have left the organization in proverbial football purgatory, with jobs at stake in 2023 as the team moves forward with former fifth-round selection Sam Howell as their preferred option under center.

Howell has left a good impression throughout the offseason and appears ready to take on this significant responsibility. And based on the performances of most who've manned football's most prestigious position in recent years, the bar isn't exactly high.

Russell Wilson reportedly turned down Commanders trade

Had a recent revelation come off for the Commanders, there wouldn't have been a need for Howell to be taken during the 2022 NFL Draft. According to Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network via Sports Illustrated, Washington was heavily involved in a potential trade to acquire Russell Wilson from the Seattle Seahawks, which would have been nothing short of astonishing had those in power pulled it off.

While there was a projected deal in place between the two teams, Wilson reportedly turned down the chance to play in the nation's capital. Perhaps more surprising was his decision to dismiss the Philadelphia Eagles in favor of a move to the Denver Broncos.

"There were times last year where I was pretty convinced either the Eagles or Commanders were going to trade for Russell Wilson. That was one where you kinda stop everything and you're like, 'Hang on.' Now turns out that that was not something (Wilson) was into. He was only interested in going to the Broncos and I think we know the story … That was something that shook my brain a little bit last year."

Ian Rapoport via Sports Illustrated

The Commanders settled on acquiring Carson Wentz from the Indianapolis Colts. This obviously blew up in their face, but things could have been much worse had they struck a deal for Wilson looking at the previous campaign.

Firstly, the compensation was whopping and not worth it in the slightest based on Wilson's sorry production last season. This could be blamed on Nathaniel Hackett's inability to successfully run Denver's offense, but the signal-caller wasn't exactly setting the world alight on his best day.

Giving up so much for so little production wouldn't have gone down well. And that's without considering the mammoth contract extension Wilson wanted as part of any switch.

Once the trade was confirmed, Wilson penned a five-year, $242.58 million deal that included a $50 million signing bonus and an eye-watering $161 million in guarantees. Again, the performance levels nowhere near matched this financial commitment.

This was a problem the Commanders avoided with Wentz, which was something. The deal's structure gave them a realistic out in the event it didn't go well, which saved them $26.17 million against the 2023 cap and came with no dead money once the expected release became official.

Perhaps Sean Payton can be the catalyst behind Wilson returning to the form of old. However, one couldn't dismiss the possibility of last season becoming the start of the veteran Pro Bowler's decline.

Either way, the Commanders dodged a pretty substantial bullet in this scenario. Whether Howell is the answer remains to be seen, but the franchise at least has plenty of draft assets to solve this ongoing complication if the North Carolina product fluffs his lines.

Had they traded for Wilson, that wouldn't be the case.