The eroded relationship between Russell Wilson and the Seahawks got so bad that Wilson reportedly asked ownership to fire head coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider at the end of his time in Seattle, according to the Athletic.
Coincidentally, Wilson's preferred replacement for Carroll was reportedly Sean Payton, who had recently resigned from his role as the head coach of the New Orleans Saints. Almost a year later, Wilson would get his wish — only this time it would be with the Denver Broncos after the team traded for Wilson in 2022 and then hired Payton this offseason after making a trade with the Saints for his rights.
A lawyer for Wilson denied that Wilson wanted Carroll and Schneider fired and wrote to the Athletic that the report was "entirely fabricated.” Wilson also denied the report soon after it was published:
I love Pete and he was a father figure to me and John believed in me and drafted me as well. I never wanted them fired. All any of us wanted was to win.
l’ll always have respect for them and love for Seattle.
— Russell Wilson (@DangeRussWilson) February 24, 2023
The decision to trade Wilson to the Broncos reportedly came days after he asked Carroll and Schneider to be fired. Per the Athletic, Wilson believed the duo was stunting his ability to win more Super Bowls and awards despite the success of the past decade. The team had just come off a 7-9 season in 2021 and missed the playoffs for only the second time in Wilson's career. Wilson also believed the Seahawks tried to trade him in the past, particularly if the team had drafted Patrick Mahomes in 2017 or moved up during the 2018 draft to select Baker Mayfield or Josh Allen.
Wilson's first season in Denver did not go well. The Broncos lost their Week 1 game to the Seahawks, now led by Wilson's backup, Geno Smith, and finished last in the AFC West with a 5-12 record. Wilson finished with a career-low 16 touchdowns and only threw for 3,524 yards with 11 interceptions. The Broncos fired first-year head coach Nathaniel Hackett after 15 games, too.
Now, Wilson has the coach he reportedly wanted in Seattle with Payton running the show. Payton talks as if the Broncos will endure a significant makeover, and he's said won't allow Wilson's personal coach inside the team facility. New Broncos quarterbacks coach Davis Webb is also six years younger than Wilson.
Year 2 in Denver should be better — it would be hard to be worse — and if it's a dramatic improvement, it'll be obvious why Wilson wanted to work with Payton.