The reality of professional sports is that everyone playing the game has a price on their heads. There is an unstated value on every player at any time, and even if the owner and management don't know exactly what that is, or aren't even actively pondering it, it exists. One phone call with the right offer on the other end of the line, and suddenly they know what that value is. It's like art -- maybe you haven't defined it, but you know it when you see it.
So if the perennial Pro Bowl quarterback does have a certain -- even currently undefined -- trade value attached (even Wayne Gretzky did, in his prime, despite being Edmonton's world ambassador), it's fair to wonder who might meet it in this instance. Who could make the offer that the Seahawks can't refuse?
And as much as at first, I'll admit, the Raiders were far from the first team I considered when conducting this exercise, they are a team I continue to come back to the more effort I put into it. They check basically every box. It actually makes a lot of sense. And I believe Mark Davis, if he puts his mind to it, can pull it off.
Bear in mind, at the onset, that Davis has already accomplished two things that many would have said were, if not impossible, at least implausible. He got a world-class stadium built in Las Vegas (at precious little cost to himself) and was able to move the franchise yet again. And he got Jon Gruden to return to coach that team ahead of the move, giving him a blank check (a $100 million, 10-year deal) to do so. So don't tell me Davis doesn't think big and that he can't be bold. Loving P.F. Changs and being uber comfortable in a starter jacket isn't mutually exclusive to being able to pull off this type of maneuver.
You can't tell me that Davis wouldn't be willing and able to get very creative in terms of how much draft capital he'd commit to land a quarterback of this pedigree. He knows that the team has yet to come close to the heights it attained under his father's watchful eye. He wants star power for his sparkling new football Taj Mahal, with fans perhaps able to finally pour in during the 2021 season.
Doesn't sound like the quintessential Raiders move? A throwback to Al? Pretty swashbuckling if you ask me.
Also keep in mind that Wilson and Gruden really hit it off during the pre-draft process, when the coach was doing his QB specials for ESPN, and have kept up a mutual admiration since, I'm told. Wilson has never played for an offensive-minded head coach, a true quarterback guy. Gruden is the polar opposite of Pete Carroll in many ways, and the answer to achieving maximum offensive potential in Vegas ain't "Run the ball more!" the way it has long been in Seattle.
Wilson has gone public with his frustration with being beaten up year after year, with the offensive line not getting better and his frustration with all of the sacks mounting. The Raiders have invested a ton of money and capital into their offensive line already, and with Wilson on an affordable deal, they could continue to spend on free agents there if need be. They have a stud running back (Josh Jacobs), one of the dominant tight ends in the game (Darren Waller) and perhaps a budding star outside receiver in Henry Ruggs. Yeah, checks a lot of boxes.
The defense needs all kinds of help. It's ugly. Fairly brutal. But Vegas is now a destination city in the NFL, with top-notch amenities and attractions. Roster isn't perfect, but you can certainly work with it. There are no utopias.
Also, if the Seahawks wanted a quality starting quarterback on a team-friendly, pay-as-you-go contract as part of any Wilson trade ... Well, hello Derek Carr! Come on down! That'll work. And Seattle could remain competitive while the front office amassed a haul of draft capital to address other needs in the short and long term. Plus, you get Wilson out of the NFC (last thing you want is him keeping you from a Super Bowl).
Oh, and I almost forgot: Vegas is one of the entertainment capitals of the world. Duh. Wilson's wife, Ciara, has headlining residency at one of the glitzy casinos while Russ competes for an MVP award down the street? I think they could live with that. Easy three-hour drive from their beach house in So Cal, and, what, a half hour in a private jet? Okay.
How many other NFL teams could compete with that if the Raiders went all-in to make this happen? Maybe Miami? Maybe Dallas? Maybe the Jets? Yeah, that one is probably a stretch. With a no-trade clause, any intense trade conversations, if we reach that point, would clearly have influence from the QB. So don't presume his wishes won't matter. They will.
There was a time when discounting Davis was all the rage. He couldn't get a stadium deal in the Bay Area. He got left at the alter in his joint proposal with the Chargers to move outside L.A. His franchise lagged at the bottom of the NFL in revenue and their facilities were probably the worst in the NFL. Overflowing toilets in the stadium locker rooms. Yeah, it was that bad. And did anyone ever know what the hell the name of the stadium was, anyway? O.co or something like that?
Feels like a long time ago to me. We've seen Davis achieve the unthinkable in terms of the business operation of his football team. He landed his dream coach. His franchise is poised to be a crown jewel of the league, tapping back into its rich history, worthy of hosting Super Bowls and NCAA title games and maybe the World Cup.
But Davis has yet to make a truly iconic move with his roster, a signature acquisition to try to tie all this together. Wilson could, most definitely, be that guy. I have a pretty good idea what Al Davis would be thinking right now. And I suspect that his son is thinking the exact same thing.