Russell Wilson slides into top 4 in NFL MVP odds following Broncos trade announcement
The blockbuster trade involving Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson can't be made official until March 16, but the 2022 NFL MVP odds have already experienced a major shakeup, with the nine-time Pro Bowler now listed as the fourth choice to win the award.
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In a trade deal announced Tuesday afternoon, Seattle will send Wilson and a 2022 fourth-round pick to Denver in exchange for quarterback Drew Lock, tight end Noah Fant, defensive lineman Shelby Harris, two first-round picks (2022 and 2023), two second-round picks (2022 and 2023) and a 2022 fifth-round selection.
Following news of the trade, Wilson was quickly thrust into the 2022 NFL MVP conversation. Before Tuesday's announcement, the 33-year-old was a bit of an afterthought for the award, as he was slated to begin his 11th season in Seattle, where last year he finished with a 7-10 record, the worst of his career.
Now Wilson is listed at +1000 odds to collect the 2022 NFL MVP, behind only Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen (+500), Kansas City Chiefs gunslinger Patrick Mahomes (+600), and two-time reigning MVP Aaron Rodgers (+600), who agreed to a historic four-year deal to stay in Green Bay on Tuesday.
Wilson instantly makes Denver a Super Bowl contender
In Denver, Wilson will join a group of talented young receivers on offense and play alongside a far better defense compared to the one he worked with in Seattle last year.
He'll also get a slight upgrade in protection from Denver's offensive line, which ranked 19th in Pro Football Focus' final 2021 rankings. Seattle finished 25th and allowed 46 sacks on the season (eighth most in the league).
With Wilson joining the Broncos, Denver's Super Bowl odds immediately jumped from +2800 to +1200 on Tuesday afternoon. The Bills (+750), Packers (+800), and Chiefs (+850) are the only teams with lower odds to win Super Bowl LVII.
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At the end of the 2021 season, the Broncos ranked eighth in total yards surrendered (326.1) and passing yards allowed (214.8), and were third in the league in scoring defense (18.9). But on offense, the team was bottom 15 in passing yards and points per game.
Wilson started 14 games for Seattle last season and recorded 3,113 passing yards, 25 touchdown passes, and six interceptions. He also celebrated his 113th career win (including the postseason), which gives him more victories than any other quarterback through 10 seasons.
The Broncos hope Wilson can bring the same kind of success Peyton Manning did late in his career in Denver, where he won his second Super Bowl title (the first came in 2007 with the Colts).
Since Manning retired in 2015, Denver has gone through a number of starting quarterbacks, including Trevor Siemian, Brock Osweiler, Paxton Lynch, Case Keenum, Joe Flacco, Brandon Allen, Teddy Bridgewater, and Lock.
Wilson will provide an immediate boost at the position and will help guide a new regime, led by first-year head coach Nathaniel Hackett, the former offensive coordinator of the Packers.
Broncos need more depth on defense and O-line
Denver is in good shape at the skill positions, with wide receivers Jerry Jeudy, Courtland Sutton, K.J. Hamler, and Tim Patrick in the mix, while Javonte Williams proved he can be a viable long-term option at running back with a strong rookie campaign last season.
In free agency, the Broncos need to focus on bolstering their offensive line and could use some depth on defense. The stop unit lost veteran linebacker Von Miller midseason to the Los Angeles Rams and need to replace Harris on the defensive line. However, Miller could potentially make his return to the Mile High City to close out his career — something he hinted at on social media earlier this week.
I kinda want that old thing back.. 5280— Von Miller (@VonMiller) March 7, 2022
The Cincinnati Bengals may be a prime trade partner, as they feature a number of enticing free agents, including defensive tackles B.J. Hill and Larry Ogunjobi. Tight end C.J. Uzomah will also enter free agency and could immediately step in following the departure of Fant.
Additionally, Wilson may convince Denver's front office to make a play for linebacker Bobby Wagner, who was just released from Seattle to free up cap space. The veteran defensive playmaker is a six-time All-Pro and eight-time Pro Bowler, and has been a teammate of Wilson's since 2012. Together, the two also won Seattle's only Super Bowl in 2014, which came against the Broncos.
Denver still has $26.2 million in cap space after acquiring Wilson and could add even more room in the budget through cuts or restructured contracts. The team also has nine picks in the 2022 draft, including a second-round pick from the Rams, two third-rounders, and a pair of fourth-rounders.
Offensive line will no doubt be a priority this offseason, considering Wilson publicly complained about the number of hits he took in Seattle and asked his former team to improve his pass protection.
With Wilson at the helm of the offense, the Broncos are in win-now mode and must pick up the necessary pieces to allow their new quarterback to guide them back to the Promised Land. If they can do that, Denver should have an excellent shot at hoisting the Lombardi Trophy next season, and could help Wilson secure his first MVP title in the process.