Will the Bears be able to land Russell Wilson?
The Bears need to upgrade the quarterback position. They’re reportedly planning to make a run for the ultimate potential upgrade: Russell Wilson.
The mutual interest makes plenty of sense. The Bears haven’t had a true franchise quarterback since Sid Luckman. Wilson, in turn, wants to be the Patrick Mahomes of an offense, with the attack running through him and built around him. Who better than Matt Nagy, who spent 2017 in Kansas City as offensive coordinator while the Chiefs quietly prepared to unleash Mahomes, to do it?
Even if Wilson can’t quite reach Mahomesian levels, Wilson becomes better than any other option the Bears have at quarterback. The Bears will fully appreciate his abilities and try to maximize them with the offense constructed around him.
But first, the Bears have to be able to pull off the trade. When spitballing the possibility in the aftermath of the Bears making it to Wilson’s four-teams-to-which-he’d-accept-a-trade list, we suggested on PFT Live sending Khalil Mack to Seattle as part of the package. Unfortunately for the Bears, a pre-June 1 trade of Mack would trigger a cap charge of $21.4 million. With the Bears currently close to $7 million over the 2021 cap, it would be challenging to say the least to include Mack in the package.
Given that the Seahawks likely need to wait until after June 1 for a Wilson trade in order to convert a $39 million cap charge into $13 million this year and $26 million next year, the Bears would benefit from that, too. A post-June 1 trade of Mack would limit the 2021 cap charge to $9.4 million.
The Bears also would have to absorb Wilson’s base salary of $19 million. That obligation would mostly be balanced, however, by avoiding Mack’s $17 million salary.
The Bears would still have to do some heavy lifting to make it work from a cap standpoint, looking for veterans whose contracts could be dramatically restructured or flat-out jettisoned. Cornerback Kyle Fuller could be released, creating $11 million in 2021 cap space. As a post-June 1 release, pass-rusher Robert Quinn would clear $11.6 million.
Creating cap space is only part of the problem. Indeed, there won’t be a cap-space problem at all if the Bears can’t get the Seahawks to bite. Would Seattle want Mack? What more than Mack would it take?
Chicago holds the 20th pick in the 2021 draft, along with the 20th selection in rounds two and three. Future first-round picks could be in play as well.
Would Mack plus a pair of first-rounders get it done? Without Mack what would it take?
Whatever it takes, the Bears are crunching the numbers. As explained in the aftermath of TheAthletic.com article that fully explored the rabbit hole of dysfunction between player and team, if the Seahawks don’t view Russell Wilson the way Russell Wilson views Russell Wilson, the Seahawks should trade him to a team that does — since that team would make an offer for Wilson that the Seahawks would regard as way too much, and thus more than good enough.