Once the Seattle Seahawks traded Russell Wilson to the Denver Broncos this offseason, all the stories about his rocky relationship with the team came out of the woodwork.
One such story came from former Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman and linebacker K.J. Wright. The pair discussed Wilson's tenure in Seattle on The Richard Sherman Podcast this week, where both explained how Wilson enjoyed special treatment throughout his early years with the Seahawks.
"He was not held to the same accountability as the rest of us," Wright said.
"When you got 52 guys being held to a certain standard and you got one guy not being held to the standard then it's going to cause some friction," Sherman added.
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Sherman added that Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll would admonish the defense in meetings when they weren't playing well but wouldn't call out Wilson until he was older. All the animosity came to a head in 2015 after the Seahawks lost to the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLIX when the team had to decide between giving Wilson a long-term extension or keeping its defense intact.
"After a while, it had to get to a point where he chose Russ or the defense," Sherman said, "and after the Super Bowl loss, he kind of made it pretty clear who he was choosing."
The Seahawks would sign Wilson to a four-year, $87.6 million extension in 2015, which at the time made him the second-highest-paid quarterback in the NFL. Slowly, the rest of the team's core pieces were discarded and by 2018 the defense had lost most of its best players, including Sherman and defensive linemen Michael Bennett and Cliff Abril.
Those losses, Wright and Sherman said, led to added pressure for Wilson which ultimately chipped away at Wilson's own feelings towards the franchise.
"And that's what happens when you made that decision," Sherman said. "They put that pressure on him. ... And now, it's on the quarterback to make this thing work. And when it didn't work, it was pressure on all side. And then you saw the breakup."
Wilson's divorce from the Seahawks has been much discussed since his departure this offseason. His frustrations with the franchise and Carroll went on for years and the team reportedly looked at other quarterback prospects as far back as the 2017 draft. But when Wilson returned to Seattle as a member of the Broncos in Week 1 and lost, it was Carroll who got the last laugh.
"So when you talk about who won the break-up between Russ and Coach Carroll, it's clearly Coach Carroll," Wright said. "He got the win. He got the city on his back. He got the former players coming to the game. And then it's just, Russ."