SEATTLE — A franchise-altering offseason punctuated by the Seattle Seahawks jettisoning its longtime star quarterback in a blockbuster deal means the team's path to relevance is murkier than normal.
Under Russell Wilson's 10-year regime the Seahawks won 105 regular season games and lost just 55. In other terms, Seattle averaged 11 wins per season (adjusting for the new 17-game schedule). Wilson failed to lead the Seahawks to double-digit wins in just two seasons.
Wilson's departure leaves a gaping leadership hole and productivity concerns at the most important position in the National Football League (NFL).
In return for the best Seahawk of all time, Seattle begins its rebuilding phase with quarterback Drew Lock, tight end Noah Fant, defensive lineman Shelby Harris and a haul of draft picks from the Wilson deal.
Now that the NFL unveiled its full 2022 schedule Thursday evening, let's break down the top five schedule-related storylines of the upcoming season.
1. Russell Wilson's return to Seattle
Where else would we start?
In a stroke of luck – the Seahawks were pre-determined to play the Denver Broncos long before the Wilson trade was completed – the NFL had an easy decision to fill its first Monday Night Football game of the season.
This will mark the first time in franchise history the Seahawks open a season on Monday Night Football and just the third meeting between the two teams since Seattle claimed its only Super Bowl trophy in 2013.
It's an intriguing setup for football historians.
Seattle is an NFL best 27-12 on Monday nights with a 22-5 record in home prime-time games since 2010.
But, of course, most of those games were played with Wilson at quarterback rather than against him.
2. Seahawks make NFL history with trip to Germany
If it wasn't for Wilson, the Seahawks traveling 5,284 miles to play the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the NFL's first-ever game in Germany would certainly be the top schedule storyline of the upcoming season.
A tough test against the (seemingly immortal) Tom Brady might damper the festivities for the traveling Seahawks.
3. Another emotional return: Bobby Wagner arrives in Seattle for pivotal end of season game
Oh right. Seattle also lost a franchise cornerstone on the defensive side of the ball too.
Just hours after Wilson's trade to the Broncos, Seattle released 31-year-old Bobby Wagner to save upwards of $16 million on its salary cap.
"Crazy part about all this," Wagner said in a tweet following the news. "I played there for 10 years & I didn’t even hear it from them that I wasn’t coming back.
The six-time All-Pro linebacker was the Seahawks team captain, a figurehead for the defense and one of the league's best defensive players at the height of his career. Wagner was scheduled to make $20.4 million in the final year of his contract before the Seahawks cut ties to jumpstart its rebuilding plans.
Drafted in 2012 alongside Wilson, Wagner amassed 1,383 total tackles and led the league in tackles for the 2016 and 2019 campaigns.
Wagner agreed to a five-year, $50 million deal with the defending Super Bowl champions and division rival Los Angeles Rams less than one month after his release from the Seahawks.
That means Wagner gets not one, but two chances each season to remind Seattle of what might have been.
4. Changing of the guard? Seahawks have fewest nationally televised games in over a decade
For a decade the Seahawks were a sound bet as any team to deliver memorable games and top-tier atmosphere.
Thank Wilson, the elite defense and the roaring fans for fostering an excellent environment for football to thrive.
Now the Seahawks will have just two primetime games – both against their former team leaders in Wilson and Wagner – for the entire season.
It's been 11 years since the last time the Seahawks had two or fewer primetime games in a season.
Seattle had five primetime games last season for comparison's sake.
5. How Patrick Mahomes stole Christmas: Seattle makes trek to Kansas City for Christmas Eve matchup
Imagine playing four grueling months of professional football only to be rewarded with a Christmas Eve game against Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 16.