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Is there any chance the Giants actually trade for Russell Wilson?

Ralph Vacchiano | Facebook | Twitter | Archive

There’s nothing wrong with dreaming, even if the dream is silly. It’s OK to wish upon a star, imagine the unimaginable, or hope against hope.

So go ahead and buy your Russell Wilson Giants jersey, because it’s your money to waste. No matter what the rumor mill says, no matter what Tyrann Mathieu Tweets, no matter how many times Jimmy Fallon asks him, Russell Wilson is not going to be the quarterback of the Giants. Not this year. Not next year. Not a few years from now.

And probably not ever.

Sorry for the reality check, but that’s the way it is with franchise quarterbacks in the NFL — even as Wilson closes in on his self-imposed deadline of Monday to have a new contract in place. The most honest thing that’s been said in the months since this silly story started making the rounds came from Wilson when he was asked about the Giants rumors by Fallon on The Tonight Show back in March.

“I’m not sure if the Seahawks are going to let me get away,” he said.

He’s right. They’re not. Because they’re not dumb or crazy. And on a planet where there are barely 32 people talented enough to play quarterback at a high level in the NFL, and only a fraction of those exceptional enough to lead their team to a Super Bowl, teams know it would be absolutely insane to let a quarterback like Wilson get away.

Think about it: When has there ever been an elite quarterback who hit free agency or was traded away in his prime? It was stunning last offseason when Kirk Cousins was available, though some thought he might have stretched the definition of a true franchise quarterback. Cousins was 30, just like Wilson, and with zero playoff wins under his belt. Yet he still had to turn down extension after extension and endure the franchise tag twice before he finally became free.

And then he was so in demand as that rarest of qualities — an in-his-prime, starting-caliber QB — that he ended up with a three-year, fully guaranteed $84 million contract from the Minnesota Vikings, which he only signed after turning down a fully guaranteed $90 million deal from the Jets. And Cousins is no Wilson by almost any measure. Wilson, you may recall, is one boneheaded play call away from being a two-time Super Bowl champ.

So if Cousins can get a fully guaranteed $90 million deal in free agency, Wilson has to be worth $110-120 million guaranteed, depending on when he hits the market and how high the salary cap is by then, right?

It’s all moot, of course, because he won’t hit the market and the Seahawks aren’t going to trade him so they can avoid paying him that long-term deal. Their backup quarterback is Paxton Lynch, who has already been discarded by the Broncos who drafted him in the first round just three years ago. So if the Seahawks traded Wilson they’d have to start over with someone else, whoever that may be. And there’s no guarantee that someone else will be of Wilson’s caliber.

So effectively they’d be taking a franchise that is likely a legitimate contender for the next five years or so and tossing it into a possibly futile rebuilding stage.

And that doesn’t sound smart at all.

And really, it’s not even something the Seahawks can be taking seriously. This is only a story because of a perfect storm of events, starting with the fact that Wilson, 30, is entering the final year of a contract extension he signed in 2015. He is due a salary of $17 million this season and he and the Seahawks have yet to agree on a new contract extension. Things haven’t exactly gotten ugly, but Wilson did set a deadline to get a deal done by Monday, otherwise he’ll stop talks until after the season is over.

That came after FoxSports’ Colin Cowherd ran with a rumor from “the entertainment agent world” that Wilson’s wife Ciara, a singer and model, wanted to live in New York to help her career. And of course, with the Giants standing by their 38-year-old quarterback Eli Manning as he enters the final year of his contract, it was easy to connect the dots from there.

Except for this: Wilson doesn’t have much of a choice in this and neither does Ciara. The NFL’s Collective Bargaining Agreement made that clear. If the Seahawks can’t agree on a contract extension with Wilson, they can use the “franchise” tag on him in 2020 for about $30 million. They can even use it on him again in 2021 (at around $37 million) and 2022 (for likely more than $50 million) if they choose.

After that, sure, Wilson could be a free agent. But he’d also be 33 years old and presumably no longer of a use for a team that wants or needs him right now.

So really, any talk of Wilson wanting New York or the Seahawks not being sure of how much he wants to stay in Seattle … it doesn’t take Bill Belichick‘s spies to sniff this out as a likely negotiating ploy. The same goes for his infamous deadline — as if he wouldn’t listen if the Seahawks come to him with the right deal in early May.

But enough people bought into it anyway and it has become the rumor that simply won’t die. Yes, it’s a nice thought: a still-in-his-prime Wilson handing off to Saquon Barkley and throwing to Sterling Shepard over the next 3-4 years. Even for those who still believe Manning is capable of playing at a near-elite level, there’s no doubt Wilson would give the Giants a better chance of competing for the playoffs and maybe even a championship over the next few years.

A move like that would reignite the Giants’ franchise, but it would ruin the Seahawks for the forseeable future. That’s why Wilson is right. The Seahawks aren’t going to let him get away. No one lets an elite quarterback go free in the NFL because no one who runs an NFL team is that stupid.

So it doesn’t matter what Ciara wants, what Wilson wants, or what Giants fans want. This is one dream that has absolutely no chance of ever coming true.

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