Russell Wilson left for the Denver Broncos and the entire elite class of the NFL seems to be following him.
After playing several years in arguably the toughest division in the league, Wilson now plays in the most talented division in the NFL and it’s not close.
Russell Wilson has left the toughest division in football and joined the toughest division in football *history*.
— Dugar, Michael Shawn (@MikeDugar) March 17, 2022
Immediately after Wilson’s trade, the Los Angeles Chargers added JC Jackson, Khalil Mack and familiar face Sebastian Joseph-Day.
The Las Vegas Raiders added Chandler Jones and Davante Adams.
The chart above was released before the Kansas City Chiefs actually traded Juju Smith-Schuster for the departure of Tyreek Hill. That won’t necessarily move the needle much, and certainly not in a positive direction for Kansas City. But the Chiefs were in the AFC Championship game and remain a constant threat.
It’s a situation the Seahawks are interested in as they own the Broncos’ first two picks next season. This year, that resulted in picks No. 9 and No. 41, after Denver finished 7-10. in 2021, they split the series against the Chargers, but lost both games to the Chiefs and Raiders. Presumably, with Russell Wilson, the team is more competent against players like the Philadelphia Eagles and Pittsburgh Steelers, but they still have six games against brutal opponents.
I chose to look at the Professional Football Benchmark Approx for a quick reference of talent entering and leaving the AFC West. Numbers will be 2021 season AVs unless otherwise stated.
Los Angeles Chargers:
JC Jackson – 12
Khalil Mack – last year was a 3, but he has an average AV of 14 over a 6 year span.
Joseph-Day – last season his AV was 3, but he posted a 10 in 2020 when his only sack was against Russell Wilson.
Gerald Everett – 5
Las Vegas Raiders
Adams – 15!
Jones – 9
Anthony Averett – 6. Averett was an underrated cornerback for the Baltimore Ravens last season with three interceptions and 11 passes defended.
Kansas City Chiefs
Smith-Schuster – 1, and is a few years away from his 2018 Pro Bowl season, but has also played with Ben Roethlisberger in decline the entire time.
Justin Reid – 4
Marquez Valdez-Scantling – 4
Back to the Broncos
Note that Wilson himself posted a 12, the lowest of his career. That includes his rookie season, 2016, all of it. While the Denver brass obviously thought they were a quarterback and a Randy Gregory short of greatness, that’s a tricky thing to bet on, for several reasons. One, I’m not convinced they were an elite roster to begin with. Additionally, Wilson is not without question marks, covered in detail by Seattle sports media. Add that to last month’s insane talent influence, and it’s longer for the Broncos to suddenly go 15-2 than to finish closer to last season.
With the team’s first two picks on the line, it’s a nice situation to watch next year.