As you rigorously prepare and research leading up to each fantasy football season, sometimes it’s fun to take a step back and look towards the future of the NFL. This feature is going to do just that, and while its focus won’t be fantasy related, maybe it sparks some thoughts for those of you pondering a keeper league strategy or something of that nature. The idea is simple: rank the top trade assets in the NFL (only including players at the skill positions on offense: QB/WR/RB/TE). Again, this has nothing to do with fantasy trades, this is in terms of how valuable these players are to their actual teams in the longterm. Yes, this means names like Tom Brady and Peyton Manning will be left off since it’s my list. I’m sure there will be plenty of debate, as everyone’s picks are likely different. So sit back, and enjoy the ride!
No. 5: Russell Wilson — QB, Seattle Seahawks
A poised quarterback who has steadily improved throughout his young career, while taking home a Lombardi Trophy along with another Super Bowl appearance in just three seasons — that’s what you ideally look for anytime your draft a QB, especially in the third-round. In recent memory, the only QB to start off his career recognized as arguably more of a “winner” than Russell Wilson, is Tom Brady. That counts as exclusive, elite company.
You can argue that Wilson has gotten lucky, or has only tasted success because of his defense, or … blah, blah, blah. The bottom line is that Wilson is an excellent quarterback that has taken the situation he’s been handed and made the absolute most of it. Although their styles of play are very different, Wilson has been Brady-like so far in his career in many ways. Soon after entering the league, he won a championship on a defensive team, making what he could of the receivers while utilizing the run game. Although the Broncos weren’t “The Greatest Show on Turf,” Wilson over Manning was very Brady over Warner-esque at the time.
Now, we’ll see if Wilson can go on to achieve what Brady has. The Seahawks sure think he will, though. If you’re one of the haters that thinks Wilson’s success is simply a product of his environment, well, you’re not going to find out how he’d play on another team anytime soon. Seattle locked Russ down to a 4-year/$87.5M contract extension (just in case you wanted to put a price tag on Wilson’s “value”).
Wilson has yet to miss a start in his career, now one game into his fourth season. He’s thrown for over 3,000 yards and 20 touchdowns each of those previous seasons. Yes, it’s 2015 and those numbers aren’t as eye popping anymore, but he gets the job done when it comes to winning. And you have to consider that Wilson’s a dual threat QB — in 2014 he rushed for 849 yards and six touchdowns.
There have been a lot of pass catchers on my list of NFL trade assets, mostly to spice it up along the way and make arguments for different players. But there’s no argument that quarterback is the most valuable position in the league. All things considered (even after Wilson’s new contract), is there any team besides the Colts and Packers that wouldn’t be interested in trading for Wilson? Tampa and Tennessee just made big investments, so it’s understandable that they’d see how those play out first. But in theory, I’m sure they’d prefer Russell at the helm if given the option to make a trade. Even teams like the Patriots and Broncos … Brady and Peyton aren’t going to be around forever.
Debate as you please, but No. 5 might be too low for Russell Wilson on this list the more I think about it.
Find me on Twitter @julianedlow
See below for more features from “NFL Trade Assets.”
Honorable Mention: Jameis Winston/Amari Cooper
10. Cam Newton
6. Dez Bryant