Broncos land QB Russell Wilson from Seahawks in blockbuster trade

The Denver Broncos landed their long-sought franchise quarterback after all – just not the one many expected.

Not long after news broke Tuesday that Aaron Rodgers had decided to stay with the Green Bay Packers, the Broncos agreed to acquire nine-time Pro Bowl quarterback Russell Wilson in a trade with the Seattle Seahawks, two people with knowledge of the situation told USA TODAY Sports. The people spoke on condition of anonymity because the move cannot become official until the start of the league year on March 16.

NFL Network was first to report the news.

The Seahawks will receive two first-round picks, two second-round picks, a fifth-round pick quarterback Drew Lock, tight end Noah Fant and defensive lineman Shelby Harris, while the Broncos will also receive a fourth-round pick. Lock started 21 games for the Broncos the last three years and could be a candidate to take over as the team's starter, though Seattle could now look for a signal-caller in the draft.

The deal brings a stunning end to a stunning 10-year run for the Seahawks. Wilson rose from a third-round pick to a Day 1 starter and led the franchise to its most successful era, which included the organization's first Super Bowl victory over the Broncos in the 2013 season. Seattle reached the postseason eight times under Wilson and only suffered a losing season in 2021, when the quarterback missed three games with a finger injury in a 7-10 campaign.

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Russell Wilson #3 of the Seattle Seahawks celebrates after a touchdown against the Miami Dolphins during the fourth quarter at Hard Rock Stadium on October 04, 2020 in Miami Gardens, Florida.

The move comes just six days after Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said the team had no plans of trading Wilson.

“That’s commonplace for us to have conversations with teams about all of the players, particularly marquee players, and that’s not changed,” Carroll said. “It’s been the same every year we’ve been here so it’s the same as it’s been. We have no intention of making any move there.”

The Seahawks' overhaul continued later Tuesday, as news broke that the team plans to release eight-time Pro Bowl linebacker Bobby Wagner, ESPN reported.

In Denver, Wilson becomes the answer to the team's longstanding problem behind center. Since Peyton Manning retired after the 2015 season, the Broncos have started 11 different players at quarterback. 

The Broncos have the NFL's second-longest active playoff drought at six seasons, trailing only the New York Jets. Denver has finished last in the AFC West the past two seasons and has not posted a winning campaign since 2016.

Yet the Broncos boast a promising collection of young talent, including running back Javonte Williams and wide receivers Courtland Sutton and Jerry Jeudy.

Denver fired coach Vic Fangio after three seasons in January and hired former Packers offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett as his replacement.

At last week's NFL scouting combine, Broncos general manager George Paton confirmed the Broncos would be "aggressive" in finding a quarterback.

"I think it's always a priority," Paton said of the Broncos' quarterback situation. "It's the most important position in sports. So we're always looking. ... We know we need better play out of the quarterback position."

Wilson will get a chance to face off against his former team in 2022, as the Broncos are scheduled to play at the Seahawks.