Russell Wilson said he never requested a trade from the Seattle Seahawks, insisting "I'm here to win it all" as he looks to see out his career with the NFL franchise.

Wilson's future has dominated headlines since his agent told ESPN that the star quarterback would only accept a trade to four teams amid his frustrations.

At the end of last season, the Super Bowl-winning quarterback and eight-time Pro Bowler voiced his frustration over the number of hits he had received and spoke of wanting a greater say in team affairs.

Wilson addressed the speculation and drama regarding his relationship with the Seahawks on Thursday.

"Obviously I love Seattle, I love playing here," Wilson said. "I've had a great career here so far. I've always wanted to play here for my full career obviously.

"I think there was some unfortunate frustrations after the season. Obviously you want to win it all and do it all and do everything you can. I think everybody on our team does.

"You want to win it, and I think unfortunately I think it got a little blown out of proportion a little bit."

Wilson appeared to be in MVP contention as Seattle made a 6-1 start to the 2020 season, but a lack of effective pass protection meant the 32-year-old could not maintain that standard.

The 47 sacks he suffered in the regular season were the third-most among NFL QBs.

Wilson has been sacked on a league-high 394 occasions in his Seahawks career, well clear of Matt Ryan (325) in second on that list.

Wilson's completion percentage of 72.3 fell to 61.6 under pressure in 2020, but this was good enough to rank third in the NFL in these situations – behind Teddy Bridgewater (65.9) and Kirk Cousins (62.2).

"I did not request a trade. I've always wanted to play here, and the reality is, I think calls were getting thrown around, this and that, and I think that's just a reality," Wilson added.

"But I think at the end of the day, the real reality is that I'm here and I'm here to win and I'm here to win it all."

The 2021 NFL season may still be months away, but fans can begin eagerly circling their calendars in anticipation of some truly mouth-watering fixtures after Wednesday's schedule release.

There are some obvious standouts. The Week 4 meeting of Tom Brady's Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Bill Belichick's New England Patriots should capture the entire league's attention as Brady returns to Foxborough for the first time since saying a shock farewell to his home of 20 seasons last offseason, and then going on to win a seventh Super Bowl ring in his maiden season with the Bucs.

A potential duel between Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs and Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers in Week 9 hinges on Rodgers blinking in his staring contest with the Packers' brass and returning for the season.

Should he do so, it will pit the reigning MVP against the 2018 MVP and Super Bowl LIV MVP in a matchup of two quarterbacks who have each recently finished in the top five in well-thrown ball percentage. Rodgers was third in the NFL with 82.4 per cent last season while Mahomes was fourth with 81.1 per cent in 2019 as he led the Chiefs to the Lombardi Trophy.

But the games with the best narratives on the surface do not always produce the best matchups. Here, using Stats Perform data, we look at five other games on the schedule that are in the mix to be among the most exciting games of the 2021 campaign.

 

Packers @ 49ers - Week 3

The Packers trounced a 49ers team decimated by injuries last season, though that was probably hollow revenge for Green Bay's NFC Championship Game humbling at the hands of San Francisco in the 2019 season.

Typically, when Rodgers has visited the team he idolised in his youth, things have gone poorly for the Packers. He has won two of his four regular-season meetings with the Niners in the Bay Area but has lost to San Francisco on each of the three occasions he has faced them in the playoffs, with two of those defeats on the road.

Still, if Rodgers acquiesces in his stand-off with Packers management and plays for Green Bay in 2021, it promises to be a fascinating duel of NFC contenders, with the Niners potentially starting a rookie quarterback in dual-threat Trey Lance.

Should Rodgers remain with the Packers, the key matchup in this one could well be the reigning MVP against a Niners defensive line that should get back edge rusher Nick Bosa after he missed most of the 2020 season with a torn ACL.

Rodgers' well-thrown percentage under pressure was 71.0 per cent in 2020, the ninth-best in the NFL, and he will likely have to maintain that accuracy under duress if Bosa is back to his best. The 2019 Defensive Rookie of the Year had a pressure rate of 28.3 per cent in his first season in the league, trailing only Adrian Clayborn and elder brother Joey, and sacked Rodgers in the regular season and the NFC title game.

Buccaneers @ Rams - Week 3

Yes, Brady v Belichick is the game everybody in Tampa will be most excited for, and the season opener between the Super Bowl champions and the Dallas Cowboys will be a primetime ratings monster, but perhaps the best duel involving the only player with seven Super Bowl rings will take place when Tampa head west.

The Rams edged the Buccaneers 27-24 in Tampa last season and should provide a stern test again at SoFi Stadium with Matthew Stafford set to be under center for Los Angeles.

But Stafford is not the person Brady will be concerned with when it comes to the Rams. Instead, it will be three-time Defensive Player of the Year Aaron Donald.

Brady was phenomenal when it came to avoiding interceptable passes last season.

He threw a pickable pass on just 13 of 590 pass attempts in 2020, a percentage of 2.20 that only Alex Smith (2.12) could better. When under pressure, it increased to 3.45 per cent, but that was still the fourth-lowest pickable pass rate in the NFL under duress.

But no defender in the league strikes fear into the heart of quarterbacks quite like Donald, who led all defensive tackles in 2020 with a pressure rate of 27.7 per cent and an adjusted sack rate of 5.5 per cent.

Donald can destroy the best-laid plans of any offense, and surviving the challenge he and the Rams will pose will be one of the biggest tests for Brady and the Bucs in their bid to repeat as champions

Bills @ Chiefs - Week 5

This is a rematch of last season's AFC Championship Game in which the Bills did not produce an effort reflective of their outstanding 2020, and Buffalo look like the team best placed to challenge Kansas City again in the AFC in 2021.

The headline act of this clash is the battle of the quarterbacks, with Mahomes and Josh Allen leading the revolution of athletic, cannon-armed quarterbacks who have taken the league by storm.

But an underrated aspect of this game will be Stefon Diggs' performance against a Chiefs secondary that does not get the credit it deserves.

Diggs was held to six catches for 77 yards in the playoff matchup but recently revealed he played through the postseason with an oblique tear.

When healthy, Diggs has the ability to do significantly greater damage. He led the NFL with 1,535 receiving yards in his first season in Buffalo and trailed only Davante Adams (3.9) in burn yards per route as he averaged 3.6.

However, the Chiefs' projected starting cornerbacks have the means to slow him down. L'Jarius Sneed was fifth among all corners in preventing big plays, allowing a play of 20 yards or more on just 14.5 per cent of his targets. 

Meanwhile, Charvarius Ward was fourth among corners in burns allowed, giving up a burn on 32.7 per cent of his targets.

Bears @ Seahawks - Week 16

The Bears have rarely been high on the list of teams to look out for when it comes to intrigue in recent years, but that all changed when they traded up to draft Justin Fields 11th overall.

Once Chicago ends the charade of committing to Andy Dalton as starting quarterback and goes with the high-upside rookie, the Bears have the potential to be an extremely interesting watch.

That will certainly be the case if Fields is under center when they travel to Seattle's Lumen Field, with the Bears set to face the quarterback they reportedly pursued before picking Fields, Seahawks star Russell Wilson.

A quarterback battle between Fields and Wilson has the potential to be an absorbing encounter featuring two signal-callers who each excel with their accuracy throwing the deep ball.

Of quarterbacks with at least 25 throws of 25 or more air yards, only three players (Ryan Tannehill, Philip Rivers and Derek Carr) had a higher well-thrown percentage than Wilson's 63.0 per cent on those attempts last season.

Fields was similarly proficient attacking downfield in his final year for Ohio State, posting a well-thrown percentage of 76.47 per cent on throws of 15 or more air yards that was superior to that of Trevor Lawrence, Zach Wilson and Mac Jones.

If his success in that regard quickly translates to the NFL, the Bears' trip to the Pacific Northwest could turn into a scintillating showcase of the deep passing game. For the first time in a while, the Bears have the potential to be must-see TV.

Ravens @ Browns - Week 14

The balance of power in the AFC North is shifting towards the Ravens and Browns and their Monday Night game in Cleveland last year was among the most entertaining of the 2020 campaign.

In the end, the Browns' inability to stop Lamar Jackson, even after his apparent 'comfort break', from making the big plays in Baltimore's thrilling comeback was the decisive factor in the Ravens' 47-42 triumph.

Cleveland took steps to stop such a scenario from playing out again, using their first-round pick on a cornerback in Greg Newsome II who allowed a big play on just 4.2 per cent of his 36 targets in an abbreviated final season at Northwestern.

His addition, and that of versatile second-round linebacker Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, who allowed a big-play percentage of 11.0 when covering from the slot and had an overall pressure rate of 25.0 per cent, should help the Browns do a better job of slowing down opponents.

But whether those arrivals are enough to make the difference against Jackson and the Ravens is another matter.

An underrated downfield thrower whose well-thrown percentage of 60.0 on throws of 25 or more air yards was seventh in the NFL last year, Jackson has another dynamic weapon to target in the form of first-round receiver Rashod Bateman.

Sixth among Power 5 wideouts with at least 50 targets in burn yards per target (16.15) in his stellar 2019 season, Bateman can be the number one receiver Jackson has long since lacked.

Bateman excelled at creating separation two years ago while having an average depth of target of 16.2. With him and speedster Marquise Brown in the mix, Jackson does not lack big-play weapons, and Cleveland's ability to keep them under wraps could be critical in deciding an ultra-competitive division in 2021.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will kick off the new NFL season against the Dallas Cowboys on September 9, while Sam Darnold is to be quickly reunited with the New York Jets.

Ahead of the full schedule release later on Wednesday, the Week 1 slate was confirmed with Tom Brady's Bucs the highlight.

After winning the Super Bowl against the Kansas City Chiefs last season, seven-time champion Brady is in the Thursday night game against the Cowboys in Tampa.

The Bucs have brought back the entirety of their title-winning team and face a Dallas outfit aiming to improve on an awful 2020 after signing Dak Prescott to a long-term contract.

Elsewhere, quarterback Darnold will make his Carolina Panthers debut against the Jets team he left this offseason.

In three miserable years in New York, Darnold threw for 45 touchdowns and 39 interceptions across 38 games with a 59.8 completion percentage – the third-worst rate in the league over this period.

The former third overall pick was traded to the Panthers last month for a sixth-round pick this year and a second and fourth-rounders in 2022, with the Jets then using the second selection in 2021 to take Zach Wilson.

Among Wilson's fellow first-round QBs, Mac Jones could potentially make his bow against the man he succeeded at Alabama.

Jones, who is competing for the starting spot on the New England Patriots with Cam Newton, will hope to face Tua Tagovailoa and the Miami Dolphins in a big AFC East matchup.

Trevor Lawrence is likely to go straight into the Jacksonville Jaguars team against the Houston Texans, while Trey Lance will hope to get his chance under center for the San Francisco 49ers at the Detroit Lions and Justin Fields for the Chicago Bears at the Los Angeles Rams in the late Sunday game.

The NFL also confirmed Wilson and Lawrence would be in line for appearances in the London games in October, with the Jets facing the Atlanta Falcons and the Jaguars taking on the Dolphins on consecutive weekends.

Another of the more intriguing Week 1 games sees the Green Bay Packers travel to the New Orleans Saints.

As the Saints begin the post-Drew Brees era, the Packers will hope wantaway MVP Aaron Rodgers is still on the team and able to improve his 3-2 career record as a starter against New Orleans.

The Seattle Seahawks, who have kept hold of Russell Wilson, face the Indianapolis Colts, and Patrick Mahomes' latest title tilt sees the Kansas City Chiefs host the Cleveland Browns.

Mahomes went down with a toe injury and then a concussion in an epic Chiefs win over the Browns in the 2020 postseason, with 35-year-old backup Chad Henne making his playoff debut and having a pick and a sack but completing six of eight passes to complete the job.

In the first Monday Night Football of the season, Lamar Jackson's Baltimore Ravens will go to the Las Vegas Raiders.


Week 1 schedule in full:

Dallas Cowboys at Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Sep 9, 8:20pm ET
Pittsburgh Steelers at Buffalo Bills – Sep 12, 1:00pm ET
New York Jets at Carolina Panthers – Sep 12, 1:00pm ET
Seattle Seahawks at Indianapolis Colts – Sep 12, 1:00pm ET
Los Angeles Chargers at Washington Football Team – Sep 12, 1:00pm ET
San Francisco 49ers at Detroit Lions – Sep 12, 1:00pm ET
Arizona Cardinals at Tennessee Titans – Sep 12, 1:00pm ET
Philadelphia Eagles at Atlanta Falcons – Sep 12, 1:00pm ET
Minnesota Vikings at Cincinnati Bengals – Sep 12, 1:00pm ET
Jacksonville Jaguars at Houston Texans – Sep 12, 1:00pm ET
Cleveland Browns at Kansas City Chiefs – Sep 12, 4:25pm ET
Green Bay Packers at New Orleans Saints – Sep 12, 4:25pm ET
Miami Dolphins at New England Patriots – Sep 12, 4:25pm ET
Denver Broncos at New York Giants – Sep 12, 4:25pm ET
Chicago Bears at Los Angeles Rams – Sep 12, 8:20pm ET
Baltimore Ravens at Las Vegas Raiders – Sep 13, 8:15pm ET

Seattle Seahawks wide receiver DK Metcalf described the opportunity to race against world-class athletes as a blessing after his Olympic hopes seemingly came to an end on Sunday.

The 23-year-old competed in the 100 metres event at the USA Track and Field (USATF) Golden Games and Distance Open in California, part of the qualification process for this year's rescheduled Games in Tokyo.

Metcalf posted an impressive time of 10.36 seconds in his heat, but that was only good enough to finish ninth as he missed out on a place in the final of the event.

A time under 10.05s would have been enough to automatically qualify for the US Olympic track and field trials in Oregon next month.

"I'm just happy to be here, excited to have the opportunity to come out here and run against world-class athletes like this," Metcalf said in his post-race interview on Peacock.

"Just to test my speed up against world-class athletes like this. Like I said, to have the opportunity to come out here and run against these guys was just a blessing."

Metcalf had been a hurdler and a long jumper at high school before focusing on football in college at Ole Miss. He was selected by the Seahawks with the 64th pick in the 2019 draft.

After posting 58 receptions for 900 yards in his rookie season, he finished the 2020 campaign with 83 catches for 1,303 yards and 10 touchdowns, good enough to earn him a trip to the Pro Bowl.

"They do this for a living. It's very different from football speed, as I just realised," Metcalf, who was strong out of the blocks, added.

Seattle team-mate Russell Wilson was among those from the NFL to be impressed by Metcalf's performance, the quarterback tweeting: "Amazing Bro!"

Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes also praised the receiver, who admitted the focus will now switch from competing on the track back to his NFL career.

"10.36 is crazy tho [sic] at that size!! Mad respect!" Mahomes posted on Twitter.

Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll has cooled talk of a reunion with former All-Pro cornerback Richard Sherman.

Following three seasons with the San Francisco 49ers, the 33-year-old Sherman is a free agent.

In an interview with ESPN on Friday, Sherman said he had been in communication with the New Orleans Saints and Las Vegas Raiders, along with the Seahawks.

"I've talked to Sherm quite a few times here over the offseason," Carroll confirmed, as per ESPN.

"So we have stayed in contact and he's out there. I know he's thinking about it.

"He's looking for an opportunity. I saw where he said there's three or four teams he's considering or whatever.

"So we'll see what happens. But he's been a great player and he's still got some ball left in him, I'm sure.

"But at this point we're going to clear through this day, figure out what happens with the rooks coming up and we'll see where it sits later on."

The Seahawks signed Oklahoma cornerback Tre Brown with one of their three draft picks and Carroll insists a move to bring back Sherman, who starred for Seattle between 2011 and 2017, is not immediately in the works.

"That's not one of our thoughts right now that we're going out and getting another guy at that spot, but we're going to keep looking," Carroll said.

"We're not going to stop looking and we're going to compete. So in that sense, I leave everything open and that's just one of them."

Sherman was a key member of the Seahawks team that claimed Super Bowl glory in 2014 and came up agonisingly short of a repeat against the New England Patriots in the following year's showpiece.

He was named a First Team All-Pro three times in Seattle and made four Pro Bowls.

Injuries have taken an increased toll, however. The Seahawks released Sherman in the 2017 offseason after he suffered a torn Achilles and, after a fifth career Pro Bowl in 2019 and helping the 49ers to the Super Bowl, he missed 11 games with a calf injury last season.

"I want to get on a competitive team," Sherman told ESPN. "I think I still have a lot to give to the game.

"I think I still have a lot that I want to accomplish and I think I can go out there and help a defense come together like it should and reach their potential, reach the heights that the defenses that I've played on have reached."

Pete Carroll is looking forward to a "long future" together with Russell Wilson after Seattle Seahawks general manager John Schneider told reporters he "never actively negotiated with anybody" over a trade of their superstar quarterback.

Wilson's future has been a source of much debate this offseason.

He appeared to be in MVP contention as Seattle made a 6-1 start to the 2020 season, but a lack of effective pass protection meant the 32-year-old could not maintain that standard.

The 47 sacks he suffered in the regular season were the third-most among NFL QBs.

Wilson has been sacked on a league-high 394 occasions in his Seahawks career, well clear of Matt Ryan (325) in second on that list.

"I'm frustrated [about] getting hit too much," he said in February.

To this, Carroll said on Wednesday: "He wasn't any more frustrated than I was."

Reports emerged of Wilson naming four teams he would be interested in being dealt to, yet Schneider now says such a move was never an option.

"There were a number of teams that called after that media blitz that happened, but no, I never actively negotiated with anybody, with any team," he said.

"Did people call? Absolutely."

Carroll described Wilson's comments as "a pretty normal reaction" and said the pair had "talked extensively throughout the offseason", "as many conversations as we've ever had".

"Russ has been our quarterback for a good while," Carroll said. "We've got a long contract with him.

"And when all of the conversation went about trades and all that, I knew what the truth was: we weren't trading Russell.

"So, we plan on him being here for a good while. I don't know how many years it is now, but we're in great shape and a long future ahead of us is shared.

"Russ knows that. I know that. We're very clear about it.

"That's why it was really obvious that we just had to sit back and kind of let the media take its course with the topic. So we did.

"We're in good shape and both very clear about that."

Wilson's completion percentage of 72.3 fell to 61.6 under pressure in 2020, but this was good enough to rank third in the NFL in these situations – behind Teddy Bridgewater (65.9) and Kirk Cousins (62.2).

Seattle Seahawks veteran Carlos Dunlap said star quarterback Russell Wilson is "here to stay" amid speculation over his future with the NFL franchise.

Wilson reportedly provided the Seahawks with a list of teams to whom he would accept a trade this offseason – the New Orleans Saints, Chicago Bears and Las Vegas Raiders – while the Philadelphia Eagles continue to be linked.

At the end of last season, the Super Bowl-winning quarterback and eight-time Pro Bowler voiced his frustration over the number of hits he had received and spoke of wanting a greater say in team affairs.

Seahawks team-mate and defensive end Dunlap said he sought assurances that Wilson would still be in Seattle before re-signing.

"I did ask him if, obviously, he was going to be with us, because if I'm coming back, I'm coming back because I see him as my quarterback, and the rest of the team, I want to pick up where we left off," Dunlap told reporters on Tuesday.

"And he told me he's with us and he's here to stay, and he said, 'Let's go, Hawks.' I'm not going to quote his every word.

"These words are not his words verbatim, but these are my explanation of how I interpreted what he said."

Wilson signed a four-year, $140million extension in April 2019 that includes a no-trade clause which needs to be waived for a deal to take place.

The Seahawks finished as division champions but were stunned by the Los Angeles Rams in the NFL play-offs.

The Seattle Seahawks have agreed a lucrative new long-term contract with wide receiver Tyler Lockett.

ESPN and NFL Network both reported Lockett is to receive a four-year extension worth $69.2million, of which $37m is guaranteed salary.

A third-round pick by the franchise in 2015, the 28-year-old has managed 376 receptions at an average of 13 yards per catch in the NFL, while he has 37 receiving touchdowns in his career.

He has started all 16 games in the previous two seasons and finished the 2020 campaign with a career-high 100 catches, making him one of only eight players to reach three figures in the league.

His total of 1,054 receiving yards was a touch below his 2019 number of 1,057, while he had 10 touchdown catches for the second time in three years.

Quarterback Russell Wilson targeted Lockett 132 times in a campaign that came to a disappointing conclusion. They suffered a first-round exit in the playoffs, going down 30-20 in a Wild Card showdown with the Los Angeles Rams after finishing top of the NFC West with a 12-4 record.

Wilson's future has been a hot topic during the offseason. While willing to stay with the Seahawks, the eight-time Pro Bowler reportedly provided a shortlist of teams he would play for, should the franchise consider trading him.

The commitment to Lockett follows on from Seattle handing a new deal to Gabe Jackson this week, the offensive lineman who arrived this month from the Las Vegas Raiders via a trade.

Jackson received a three-year contract worth $22.575million that, due to how it is structured, eases the impact on the 2021 salary cap.

The guard started 99 out of 100 games played during his seven seasons with the Raiders, who were reportedly considering cutting Jackson before working out a deal that saw them net a fifth-round draft pick.

Shaquill Griffin has opted to leave the Seattle Seahawks and join the Jacksonville Jaguars in free agency.

The cornerback, who was named to the Pro Bowl in 2019, has agreed a three-year contract worth at least $40 million with $29m guaranteed with the Jags, according to NFL Network.

Griffin can earn up to $45m based on incentives.

Seattle were keen to keep Griffin but did not apply the franchise tag and have been beaten to his signature by the Jags, who entered free agency with one of the league's best salary cap situations.

Griffin, 25, has only played the full 16 games once in his first four seasons and was not at his best in 2020 but has plenty of impressive play on tape and was among the top available corners.

He will be paired with their first-round pick from last season, C.J. Henderson, to form a promising young cornerback duo in Jacksonville.

The Jaguars have also agreed a two-year deal with Tyson Alualu after the veteran defensive tackle enjoyed a career year with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

They are hoping to improve a miserable defense that was 27th in net passing yards allowed per game (264), 30th against the run (153 YPG) and 31st in opposition yards per play (6.26) during 2020.

With Urban Meyer in as head coach and Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence – billed as a generational talent – set to be picked at number one overall in the NFL Draft, the Jags could become competitive in a hurry after their 1-15 campaign.

The Seattle Seahawks' Wild Card round exit in the playoffs was a result that underlined the need for significant changes, but they may be about to head down a path nobody expected or would advise. 

Frustrated by the level of punishment he has taken behind an offensive line the Seahawks have failed to properly upgrade, quarterback Russell Wilson this offseason reportedly provided Seattle with a list of teams to whom he would accept a trade. 

On that list are the Dallas Cowboys - who are out of the running having re-signed Dak Prescott - New Orleans Saints, Chicago Bears and Las Vegas Raiders. 

If speculation is to be believed, the Seahawks are fielding offers for Wilson and do not appear dead against trading one of NFL's elite quarterbacks, with the Bears said to be the team in that quartet most interested in striking a trade. 

It would be a franchise-altering decision for a team that has consistently been in the playoff mix because of the heroics of Wilson. 

The likely outcome remains that Wilson is still a Seahawk in 2021, but what do Seattle need to do this offseason to ensure this same drama is not repeated next year? 

Using Stats Perform data, we reflect on another year in which regular-season optimism gave way to postseason frustration for the Seahawks and the moves they will need to make to be better placed to challenge for the Lombardi Trophy in 2021. 

Offense 

The Seahawks dispensed with the services of offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer following the loss to the Rams, a move that appeared unlikely early in the season as the Seattle thrived after Schottenheimer and head coach Pete Carroll heeded the widespread calls to 'let Russ cook'. 

Yet there was an evident decline in the second half of the season. Of the 56 plays of 20 yards or more Seattle produced in 2020 - putting them a disappointing 23rd in the NFL - only 20 of them came in the final eight games of the campaign. 

It is perhaps no coincidence that the drop-off came in the wake of a 44-34 defeat to the Buffalo Bills in Week 9 that, combined with a subsequent loss to the Los Angeles Rams - a pair of games in which Wilson committed seven turnovers - sparked a change in approach from Carroll and a disagreement with his quarterback about how to fix the offense. 

Carroll reverted to type, relying on the running game and the strength of a defense that made strides down the stretch as Seattle clinched the NFC West title. 

From Weeks 1-9, only three teams registered fewer rushing attempts than the Seahawks' 193. However, from Week 10 onwards they attempted the 12th-most rushes in the NFL (218). 

And the difference in the Seahawks' performance on offense in those two timeframes could hardly be starker.

Between Weeks 1-9, Seattle led the league in scrimmage yards per game (434.5). From Weeks 10-17, they dropped to 24th with an average of 342.5. 

The numbers clearly point to an aggressive approach through the air being Seattle's best route to offensive success. 

Wilson's statistics on deep throws also support the argument that letting him 'cook' is in Seattle's best interests. Indeed, of quarterbacks to have attempted at least 25 throws of 21 or more air yards last season, Wilson led the way with 13 touchdowns on such passes. 

Yet for him to have the opportunity to make a strategy built around his remarkable deep ball prowess succeed, the Seahawks must do a better job in pass protection. 

Among quarterbacks to have at least 100 dropbacks, Wilson's sacks per pass play percentage of 7.77 was tied for the ninth-highest with Cam Newton. 

When given licence to do so, Wilson torched defenses. Allowing him that freedom, and reinforcing the offensive line, is the best way for the Seahawks to take the burden off a defense not without his holes despite a strong finish to the 2020 regular season. 

Defense 

Seattle's big splash last year was to strike a blockbuster trade for All-Pro safety Jamal Adams that caused excitement and raised eyebrows in equal measure. 

The decision to trade two first-round picks to acquire Adams from the New York Jets was met with scepticism from many. He may fail to ever live up to that price tag, but he did make a tangible impact on the success the defense enjoyed in 2020. 

Adams posted 9.5 sacks, the most by a defensive back in a single-season in NFL history, providing a significant boost to a Seahawks' pass rush that lacks dominant players up front. 

His efforts in that regard helped the Seahawks finish in the top 10 in opponent negative play yardage, Seattle forcing 109 negative plays for minus 393 yards. 

Yet the Seahawks were still extremely susceptible to the passing game. 

Seattle allowed 55 pass plays of 20 yards or more, tied for seventh in the NFL, indicating Adams had little positive impact in coverage. 

Where the Seahawks' defense consistently excelled was in defending the run. 

Only four teams allowed fewer runs of 20 yards or more than Seattle (7), and the Seahawks did not give up a single touchdown run of 20 yards. 

Finishing the year 12th in opponent yards per play allowed (5.48), the Seahawks will be out to join the league's elite on defense in 2021. 

To do that they will likely need better production from the defensive line in terms of turning pressure into sacks, of which they put up 46. 

That tally was good enough for seventh in the NFL, but plenty of opportunities clearly went begging with Seattle leading the league in hurries (190) and tied for sixth in knockdowns (104). Defensive tackle Jarran Reed was second behind Adams for sacks on the team with 6.5 and Carlos Dunlap (5) is no longer a Seahawk. 

The Seahawks cannot rely on a safety to carry the pass-rushing load on a regular basis, and finding a dominant edge player who can convert on the pressure they create should be top priority on defense in an offseason where they will have to perform a financial balancing act. 

Offseason 

Seattle must face up to the same challenge that beckons for the rest of the league, improving the roster by acquiring new talent and trying to keep their own while dealing with the issues presented by a declining salary cap. 

The Seahawks are scheduled to be $21.4million under the salary cap of $182.5m, that is more wiggle room than just under half the league and is little enough to raise doubts over how many free agents they can retain. 

Shaquill Griffin is likely to be the Seahawks' priority in terms of keeping their own players, Griffin having developed into an impressive starting cornerback for Seattle. 

He could command significant money on the market, potentially limiting Seattle's ability to re-sign veteran linebacker K.J. Wright. 

Seattle drafted linebacker Jordyn Brooks in the first round last year and he should slot in as the successor if Wright departs. 

Without a first-round pick because of the Adams trade, the Seahawks will need to get creative if they are to fill their most pressing needs on both sides of the trenches. 

General manager John Schneider has long been one of the best in the league at manoeuvring up and down the draft board. 

The onus is on him to do so and find financially viable solutions in free agency to ensure the pass rush improves and that the Seahawks do a better job of keeping opposing pass rushes away from Wilson. 

Should he fail to do so, Wilson's dissatisfaction may lead to some franchise-changing consequences next offseason. 

Another offseason sees another scramble for quarterbacks in the NFL.

Last year, Tom Brady was among those on the move and he ended the 2020 season with his first Super Bowl title in Tampa Bay and seventh in total.

Already in 2021 there have been significant deals at the position again, including the Los Angeles Rams' big play for Matthew Stafford, deeming him a significant upgrade on the expensive, underperforming Jared Goff.

There are big names remaining on the board, though, and we take a look at the state of play.

 

DESHAUN WATSON

It is not every day a QB of Watson's quality becomes available – and the Houston Texans might still argue he is not. But the 25-year-old was bogged down by a poor team last year, finishing 4-12 despite leading the league in overall passing yards (4,823).

Watson wants out, and the Texans would be well advised to listen to any serious offers if the alternative is to let one of the league's top talents sit on a massive contract.

The asking price will surely be high. Stafford, 33, threw for 4,084 yards, 26 touchdowns and 10 interceptions in 2020 – beaten by Watson across the board – and set a precedent when he went to the Rams for Goff, two first-round picks and a third.

What does that make Watson worth? Well, his desire to depart might bring the value down slightly, but Houston would surely expect picks as well as a QB prospect.

TUA TAGOVAILOA

Tagovailoa was the fifth pick just a year ago, but the Miami Dolphins might already be interested in moving on, especially if that means a trade for Watson.

Although there were signs of Tagovailoa's promise as he won his first three NFL starts, 2020 ended with his benching in a Week 16 comeback win and then three costly picks in a Week 17 defeat that saw the Dolphins miss the playoffs.

Miami might feel a move for Watson would make them contenders, while the Texans could use a talent like Tagovailoa in their rebuild.

There is a complication, however. The draft picks Houston would receive alongside Tagovailoa in return for Watson would be the same selections they spent themselves in a deal for offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil. In order to save face, an alternative package might appeal.

SAM DARNOLD

Such an offer may well materialise elsewhere in the AFC East. The New York Jets are likely to have an interest in Watson if they move on from Darnold and do not want to try again in the draft with the second pick.

That would have been the first selection had the Jets not inexplicably rallied to two wins, gifting Trevor Lawrence to the Jacksonville Jaguars.

The signing of Watson would significantly soften that blow, but it would most likely mean the Texans taking on Darnold, who has played for two more years than Tagovailoa and is still to show he is really up to the task. A career tally of 45 TDs and 39 interceptions for a passer rating of 78.6 does not compare favourably.

His team even failed when apparently tanking. Houston would hope a Darnold-led rebuild would fare better.

JIMMY GAROPPOLO

This busy market might have piqued the interest of San Francisco 49ers fans looking for a more reliable option at QB, where Garoppolo has started only 30 games in four years. It could be time for him to move on.

The landing spot for the 29-year-old would seemingly be New England, a place he knows well having previously served as Brady's understudy on the Patriots.

Brady stuck around longer than expected, so Garoppolo moved to San Francisco and performed well in 2019, starting all 16 games for the only time in his career and throwing 27 TDs before making the Super Bowl.

That proved the peak, however, with defeat in the big game, although the Pats look to be interested again having failed to properly replace - yes – Brady.

CAM NEWTON

Newton was the man Bill Belichick initially turned to, agreeing a one-year deal with the former MVP that makes him a free agent again this year.

A return to New England cannot be entirely ruled out, although a team and coach used to Brady's brilliance never really adjusted to a QB who threw only eight TDs.

Newton might have other options. Washington head coach Ron Rivera knows the player well from their time together with the Carolina Panthers and could be more appreciative of his other talents, notably a running game that brought 592 yards and 12 TDs on 137 carries in 2020.

JAMEIS WINSTON

Winston, once a number one overall pick, is another man heading for free agency. He spent last season with the New Orleans Saints but found himself third choice, behind utility player Taysom Hill, and participated in only 51 plays.

It was a far cry from the previous year when Winston was Tampa Bay's starter and involved in just about everything, remarkably throwing 33 TDs and 30 interceptions.

That 2019 campaign encapsulated how chaotic the 27-year-old can be, but he would argue he deserves to at least be competing for a start somewhere. If not back to New Orleans, Winston could be headed for somewhere like Washington and a team looking to change things on the cheap.

RUSSELL WILSON

Wilson certainly would not come cheap. And it seems improbable he would come at all, regardless of the suitor.

But noises of unhappiness in Seattle, where the Seahawks failed to give their superstar quarterback the help he needed, were followed by Wilson's agent saying only moves to the Saints, Dallas Cowboys, Las Vegas Raiders or Chicago Bears would appeal.

Dak Prescott's new deal in Dallas closed that avenue, while the Saints and Bears are already set to be way over the cap. Any blockbuster move for Seattle's most prized asset could change the entire complexion of this offseason, though.

Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson has reportedly not demanded a trade, according to his agent Mark Rodgers.

It was claimed by The Athletic that Wilson's relationship with the Seahawks coaching staff had reached breaking point.

Rodgers told ESPN's Adam Schefter on Thursday that the 32-year-old wants to play for the Seahawks, but if a trade were to be given consideration then only four teams would be in the running.

Wilson's agent named the Dallas Cowboys, New Orleans Saints, Las Vegas Raiders and Chicago Bears as the only viable destinations for Wilson.

At the end of last season the quarterback voiced his frustration over the number of hits he had received and spoke of wanting a greater say in team affairs.

Wilson signed a four-year, $140million extension in April 2019 which includes a no-trade clause which needs to be waive for a deal to take place.

The Seahawks finished as division champions but were stunned by Los Angeles Rams in the NFL play-offs.

The Seattle Seahawks have signed executive vice-president and general manager John Schneider to a contract extension through the 2027 draft.

Schneider has been in the position since 2010, playing an instrumental role in constructing a Seahawks team that have been perennial contenders over the past 10 years.

His selection of quarterback Russell Wilson in the third round of the 2012 draft proved a masterstroke, while Schneider also drafted Richard Sherman, Earl Thomas, Kam Chancellor and Bobby Wagner, all of whom became key figures in Seattle's legendary 'Legion of Boom' defense.

The Seahawks made successive Super Bowl appearances in the 2013 and 2014 seasons thanks to that core, winning their first and only NFL championship with a rout of the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XLVIII.

More recently, Schneider has shown his acumen as a talent evaluator with his second-round selection of wide receiver DK Metcalf in 2019. Metcalf broke a franchise record for receiving yardage with 1,303 in the 2020 season and also caught 10 touchdowns.

With his track record, it is no surprise that the Detroit Lions were reportedly interested in luring Schneider from Seattle.

But he has committed his future to the Seahawks, with Jody Allen, chair of the Seahawks, saying: "For the last decade, John and head coach Pete Carroll have formed a tremendous partnership and the Seahawks have established a successful, unique, and truly winning culture respected throughout sports. I know we are all excited to see that continue."

Carroll was recently signed to an extension through the 2025 season.

The Seahawks won the NFC West title in 2020 but suffered a Wild Card round loss to division rivals the Los Angeles Rams last Saturday.

Los Angeles Rams quarterback John Wolford returned from hospital to celebrate with his team-mates after they defeated the Seattle Seahawks 30-20 in the NFL playoffs on Saturday.

Wolford was in a neck brace when he was taken away from Lumen Field in an ambulance having been struck on the head by the shoulder of Seahawks safety Jamal Adams in the first quarter.

Asked for an update on the 25-year-old, Rams head coach Sean McVay told the media he had been released from hospital.

"He must be good because he was in the locker room smiling, looking good," said McVay.

"I think it was just a stinger, but he definitely seemed good. We wanted to be as cautious as we could with something like that. It looks like it's trending in a positive direction."

Wolford was selected to start the Wild Card game after completing 22 of 38 throws for 231 yards passing as the Rams clinched their playoff spot by defeating the Arizona Cardinals in Week 17.

The fact starting quarterback Jared Goff underwent thumb surgery less than two weeks ago played a part in McVay's decision.

However, Goff came off the bench to replace Wolford and passed for 155 yards - the most by any player off the bench since Jay Fielder's 172 for the Jacksonville Jaguars in the 1999 Divisional Round.

He connected on a 15-yard touchdown pass to Robert Woods, while Cam Akers had 176 scrimmage yards - the second-most by a rookie in his playoff debut - and Darious Williams scored a 42-yard interception return.

"For [Goff] to be able to throw the football is pretty impressive," McVay said.

"There were a couple limitations which led to the decision to go with John. I was real pleased with Jared, and I think it was a real credit to him to be able to handle this week the right way and have himself mentally ready to go."

Asked for his opinion on McVay's decision, Goff said: "It was tough. It was some long conversations we had, but ultimately, I respect his decision.

"He's the coach. He had to make a decision that he needed to make early in the week to get out in front of some stuff, and I get it, but as a competitor of course I wanted to play."

Goff suggested there was added motivation for the Rams after seeing the Seahawks celebrate clinching the NFC West division title by beating them 20-9 in Week 16.

"Two weeks ago, you saw them smoking cigars and getting all excited about beating us and winning the division, and we're able to come up here and beat them in their own place. It feels good," he said.

The Los Angeles Rams stunned division champions Seattle Seahawks after a dominant defensive effort contained Russell Wilson in a 30-20 upset win at Lumen Field.

Aaron Donald and Leonard Floyd led the way with two sacks each as the NFL’s best defense swarmed Wilson and the third-seed Seahawks, while rookie running back Cam Akers exploded to send the sixth-seed Rams' NFC West rivals crashing out of the Wild Card playoff.

Head coach Sean McVay's gameplan went up in smoke midway through the first quarter when Rams starting quarterback John Wolford was carried to hospital with a neck injury after a hit by Jamal Adams, and back-up Jared Goff entered the game 12 days after undergoing surgery on a dislocated thumb.

But Donald and the rest of the Rams defense took over in the first half, restricting the Seahawks to punts on their opening three possessions. With four minutes until half-time, Wilson had landed only three of seven pass attempts for 44 yards and pro bowl receiver DK Metcalf was showing his frustrations after being held without a catch.

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