Geno Smith threw two touchdown passes as the Seattle Seahawks won in Russell Wilson's return to Lumen Field with a 17-16 victory over his new side Denver Broncos in Monday Night Football.

Trailing by one point with 20 seconds to play, the Broncos opted to chase victory with a 64-yard field-goal attempt from Brandon McManus, rather than keep the ball in Wilson's hands. McManus' attempt, which would have tied for the second longest field goal in NFL history, had the distance but missed wide left.

Wilson, who was traded by the Seahawks to the Broncos in the offseason, completed 29-of-42 passes for 340 yards with one touchdown for Denver.

Smith was the star for the Seahawks, particularly in the first half, completing 23-of-28 attempts for 195 yards with two touchdowns. The Seahawks were scoreless in the second half but their defense held up.

Seattle scored a TD with their first drive as Smith found a wide-open Will Dissly, who had three receptions for 43 yards.

The Broncos tied it up in the second quarter when Wilson floated to Jerry Jeudy for a 67-yard to reception TD, which was his first in over 600 days. Seattle re-claimed the lead before half-time when Smith threw 25 yards to Colby Parkinson.

After Denver cut the lead to one from a McManus field goal in the fourth, the Broncos came up empty on the goal line twice, before their last-ditch attempt fell short.

Wilson hit up Javonte Williams, before exhausting time and calling a timeout with 20 seconds remaining to allow McManus' attempt.

The win means Seattle have won their last eight Week 1 games at home, dating back to their last loss in 1999. Denver have lost six straight Monday Night Football games.

It seemed on a frenzied January night in Kansas City as though the AFC title would be decided by the toss of a coin.

The Kansas City Chiefs were the beneficiaries, coming up the field one last time to beat the Buffalo Bills, but Patrick Mahomes and Co. were not to make the Super Bowl.

That the Chiefs were stunned by the Cincinnati Bengals in the AFC Championship Game said a great deal for the strength in depth of the conference.

And that has been ratcheted up to another level over the course of the offseason, with Russell Wilson and Davante Adams among the notable names traded into the AFC.

The NFC may still have the defending Super Bowl champions, but there are no shortage of contenders here – including as many as four in one wild division out west.

The favourites

The Chiefs and the Bills would both have been hugely disheartened by the manner in which their seasons ended. Kansas City had the fortune that deserted Buffalo but were unable to make the most of their reprieve against the Bengals.

But that will merely make Mahomes and Josh Allen two of the more motivated superstars heading into the new season.

Mahomes is now without Tyreek Hill, yet the Chiefs' offensive line went from strength to strength as last season wore on, ranking third in pass protection win percentage by the year's end.

Meanwhile, Allen showed in that playoff blockbuster he can be every bit a match for Mahomes at his best. He threw nine touchdown passes across his two playoff games; no player had previously thrown more than seven while playing two games or fewer in a single postseason.

Allen will hope not to get the chance to better that record, this year targeting a run that goes far beyond the Divisional Round.

In the mix

The Bengals of course have to be considered after pushing the Los Angeles Rams all the way, while the Tennessee Titans actually matched the Chiefs for the best regular season record in the AFC despite Derrick Henry being limited to eight games, though the trade of receiver A.J. Brown to the Philadelphia Eagles may restrict their ceiling on offense and ability to compete this year.

Deshaun Watson's suspension will give the Cleveland Browns work to do just to make the playoffs, but they may well be a serious threat if they get there.

A conference packed with quarterback talent also includes former MVP Lamar Jackson, who is fit again and looking to set the Baltimore Ravens back on course after a difficult 2021 in which they finished bottom of the AFC North.

But if the Chiefs are the team to beat, perhaps one of their division rivals can cause an upset. Each of the Los Angeles Chargers, the Denver Broncos and the Las Vegas Raiders have reasons to be optimistic.

Four contenders in the wild, wild AFC West

The Chiefs have won the AFC West six years in a row, but there is no guarantee that will become seven. The scale of the challenge before Kansas City represents a big boost to their AFC rivals – and to the neutrals, licking their lips at a must-watch season-long tussle.

Justin Herbert has long looked like making the Chargers contenders, with just the 14th 5,000-yard passing season in league history helping his offense finish fourth in the league in yards per game (390.2) and fifth in total points scored (747) last season. Crucially, the Chargers have added defensive help in the form of Khalil Mack and J.C. Jackson now, too.

Yet their offseason work perhaps pales next to that of the Broncos and the Raiders.

Wilson left the Seattle Seahawks for Denver, who promptly handed him a huge contract, clearly feeling he and Nathaniel Hackett can be the QB-coach combo they have been missing to return them to the postseason.

Support for that belief comes from Wilson's performance in quarterback Efficiency Versus Expected (EVE), which measures a signal-caller's performance in expected passing situations against the league average. Despite playing only 14 games on a Seahawks team that finished in the NFC West cellar, Wilson was still 13th in EVE, just behind Tom Brady.

Meanwhile, Adams has reunited with former Fresno State team-mate Derek Carr on the Raiders, with Stats Perform's positional rankings subsequently considering Las Vegas to have the most talented skill players in the NFL.

The Chiefs will undoubtedly now be made to work for the division after years of dominance. 

Lamar out to right last year's wrongs

With half of the conference potentially in contention for a Super Bowl run, there is perhaps no true sleeper pick, but the Ravens will expect to go from worst to first in their division.

Much will depend on a return to form for dual-threat superstar Jackson.

Baltimore were firmly on course for the playoffs at the time of the ankle injury that kept Jackson out of the run-in in 2021, collapsing thereafter. However, it had already been by far the QB's worst season as a regular starter.

After 3,127 passing yards and 36 passing TDs and 1,206 rushing yards and seven rushing TDs in his MVP season of 2019, Jackson had regressed slightly in 2020 and struggled further last year both through the air and on the ground.

In 12 games, Jackson threw just 16 TDs to 13 interceptions, while his 767 rushing yards saw him finish second among QBs to Jalen Hurts – a category he had dominated in the previous two campaigns.

Everything the Ravens do when they are good goes through Jackson, so his performance level will make or break their season.

Can Tua turn his fortunes around?

With the wealth of talent at the top of the AFC, there must also be some dregs at the bottom. The Miami Dolphins might fear they belong instead to that category.

The Dolphins made their own big move this offseason, taking elite receiver Hill out of the AFC West to give Tua Tagovailoa little excuse in his third season.

Hill got open on 82.7 per cent of his targets last season, with those skills of separation sure to come in useful when attempting to link up with a passer in Tagovailoa who threw to an open target just 73.8 per cent of the time.

The Dolphins are not expecting Tagovailoa to be Mahomes, but they need him to be much better than he has been thus far for this project to work.

Pete Carroll has heard all the talk that the Seattle Seahawks are in for a season of struggle, but the veteran coach has urged his team to enjoy the thrill of the chase.

Russell Wilson completed a decade as the starting quarterback for the Seahawks before departing in March for the Denver Broncos, and Seattle could find life exceedingly difficult in his absence.

Geno Smith looks to have fended off Drew Lock to emerge as Carroll's preferred QB, but neither looks to possess the quality to plug the gap.

Lock (6.54) and Smith (5.88) were among the five worst quarterbacks (min. 50 attempts) by pickable pass percentage last season, and given Seattle's defense has become one of the league's weakest, it is not without good reason that many expect Seattle to prop up the NFC.

Carroll, who has been head coach of the Seahawks since 2010, is coming up for 72 next week, and his optimism still burns brightly.

His team start at home next Monday, against Wilson and the Broncos.

"I don't care what anybody says. People have been saying stuff about teams for years," Carroll said.

"They don't know. They're just guessing at this point, and then we go and prove it and we see where we are. Win a big game in the opener or struggle and not win a big game in the opener, you've got to come back and get going again and back on track regardless."

Carroll added: "I just think we're chasing instead of being chased, which I think is cool. I think it's exciting."

The coach led Seattle to Super Bowl glory in the 2013 season, but they finished with a 7-10 record last term.

The team's 2022 captains were revealed on Monday, with Tyler Lockett on offense, Quandre Diggs and Al Woods on defense, and Nick Bellore on special teams.

"I love the leadership. I love the speed," said Carroll, quoted by ESPN. "I love our style in all aspects and now we need to go out and show it and live up to what the expectations are. My expectations are very high."

He has no time for preseason pessimism, adding: "I don't see any reason my expectations should change at all."

The AFC West has been dominated by the Kansas City Chiefs in recent seasons, with six division titles in succession.

In fact, if the Chiefs can extend that streak to seven, they will tie each of the Denver Broncos, the Las Vegas Raiders and the Los Angeles Chargers on 15 division titles.

Unfortunately for those in Kansas City, their rivals appear especially determined to ensure this year is different.

No division has prompted as much intrigue during the offseason as the AFC West, which has appeared at the centre of numerous big trades as its pretenders attempt to become contenders.

So hard to split is the division that Stats Perform has not even attempted to try – instead explaining what needs to happen for each of these teams in turn to be successful...

Kansas City Chiefs

After topping the AFC West in six straight seasons, there are plenty of reasons to believe the Chiefs can be toppled in 2022: Patrick Mahomes is coming off perhaps the worst season of his career, Tyreek Hill is gone, and the competition in the division is intense.

Yet those are also three reasons why Mahomes will be determined to lead the Chiefs to another strong year.

One of the game's leading lights will hope the 2021 season, with its 3-4 start and hugely disappointing finish in the AFC Championship Game, does not live long in the memory, but his attempts to move on swiftly could easily be hampered by the departure of WR1 Hill to the Miami Dolphins.

However, tight end Travis Kelce – the career leader in Mahomes targets (540), completions (383) and passing yards (4,960) – remains in Kansas City, and the quarterback has the ability to make a partnership work with any receiver.

Mahomes just needs time, and that is what he can expect to get behind one of the best offensive lines in the game.

The Chiefs rebuilt their O-line last year, and they ranked third in the NFL in pass protection win percentage (80.16) in 2021. Crucially, that unit improved as the season went on; the six games in which Mahomes faced the most pressures were all before the Week 12 bye.

Mahomes' pass completion rate of 77.4 per cent when not pressured ranked second among QBs with 100 or more attempts last season; this dropped to 56.7 per cent when pressured – only marginally above the league average in such scenarios (56.6).

Widely considered the most talented passer of his generation, the Chiefs have focused on protecting Mahomes rather than worrying about who he is throwing to, and that should be a safe bet despite his postseason wobble.

Las Vegas Raiders

As one elite receiver leaves the AFC West in Hill, another arrives. Davante Adams has quit the Green Bay Packers to bring his star power to Vegas.

Since his rookie season, Adams ranks fifth in the NFL for catches (669), sixth for receiving yards (8,121) and second for receiving touchdowns (73), although he has spent his entire career playing with four-time MVP Aaron Rodgers.

Now, Adams will be paired with zero-time MVP Derek Carr, who threw for 23 TDs and 14 interceptions last year, ranking 24th in touchdown percentage (3.7). Rodgers, by comparison, threw for 37 scores and four picks, with his 7.0 TD percentage the best in the league.

Yet Carr will surely benefit from having Adams to throw to. He saw 25 passes dropped in 2021 – tied for the third-most in the NFL – and a solid completion percentage of 68.4 could have been better, as his expected completion percentage of 74.5 trailed only Mahomes (75.9).

Carr is clearly an accurate passer; he just needs a little help turning this talent into tangible rewards.

Adams is the ideal man to do that, with the duo teaming up previously for two years at Fresno State, in which time the receiver's 38 TDs led the FBS by some distance.

Last year, Adams – who dropped a career-low one pass, just 0.6 per cent of his targets – added 633 yards after the catch, fourth-most in the league, and led the way in recording a first down with 49.7 per cent of his targets.

He can have a transformative impact on a team who were already the Chiefs' nearest challengers in this division and will now be overseen by former New England Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels as coach.

Los Angeles Chargers

This division is so exciting not only because it contains four potentially great teams but because it contains four potentially great offenses.

For the Chargers, there are few doubts on that side of the ball. They have largely brought back the same offense that made Justin Herbert a star in 2021 with just the 14th 5,000-yard passing season in league history. Of course, the 17-game season helped in that regard, but only Tom Brady (5,316) outperformed Herbert (5,014) on the year.

As a result, the Chargers were fourth in the league in yards per game (390.2) and fifth in total points scored (747).

So, why did they miss out on the postseason?

Well, the Chargers had a bottom-10 defense in terms of yards per game (360.1), and only two teams allowed more points across the season (459). That Herbert-powered offense ranked 23rd in time spent on the field, with the defense giving them too much to do in too little time.

There are reasons to believe that will change this year, though, with the acquisitions of Khalil Mack and J.C. Jackson particularly notable for a team that ranked in the bottom half of the league for takeaways (21).

Only three players have had eight or more interceptions in a single season over the past two years; Jackson, one of those three, has done it twice.

No player has ever previously had eight or more picks in three straight seasons, but Jackson has shown no signs of slowing and could be exactly the type of superstar the Chargers need on defense to complement Herbert's efforts on offense and seize control of this division.

Denver Broncos

These might not be the four most talented quarterbacks in the NFL, but they may well be the four most motivated.

Russell Wilson undoubtedly has a point to prove after ending a 10-year stint with the Seattle Seahawks that went downhill fast in its final 18 months. In early MVP contention after a 5-0 start to the 2020 season, Wilson went 13-12 over the rest of his Seahawks career.

He last year missed the postseason for only the second time and, according to Seattle, pushed for a trade. "I didn't initiate it," was Wilson's reply. "It was definitely mutual."

Regardless, Wilson will find a very receptive audience in Denver, where Broncos fans were desperate to see an end to the QB merry-go-round that had them in a spin for six straight years after Peyton Manning's farewell Super Bowl 50 win. They have had 10 different starters under center since 2016, second only to Washington (11).

In that time outside the title picture, though, the Broncos have rebuilt the rest of the roster, waiting for the sort of QB-coach combo they now have in Wilson and former Packers OC Nathaniel Hackett.

Denver allowed the eighth-fewest yards per game last season (326.1) and the third-fewest points (322); on offense, a better QB than Teddy Bridgewater would have made more use of playing behind an O-line that ranked eighth in pass protection win percentage (78.64).

With personnel changes at the two most important positions, the Broncos can expect to be much, much better than 19th for yards per game (330.5) and joint-23rd for total points (335).

That improvement should take the Broncos from nowhere to somewhere, even in this AFC West.

Russell Wilson has signed a lucrative contract extension with the Denver Broncos, tying him to the franchise for a further five seasons.

The 33-year-old moved to Denver from the Seattle Seahawks ahead of the 2022 season, with the Broncos parting with three players – two first-round picks and two second-round picks – to land the Super Bowl-winning quarterback.

Wilson penned a two-year deal with the Broncos upon his arrival but could now stay with the team into his 40s, with an extension tying him down for a total of seven seasons.

Widespread reports have confirmed the news, with the deal worth $245million and $165m guaranteed.

The move also serves as further evidence of the quarterback market skyrocketing, with Aaron Rodgers' recent extension with the Packers at $50m setting the bar.

Wilson will begin his career with the Broncos in familiar circumstances as Denver travel to face Seattle on the west coast on September 13.

During his time with Seattle, Wilson led the Seahawks to back-to-back Super Bowl appearances, winning Super Bowl XLVIII against the Broncos at the MetLife Stadium in New Jersey.

He has also been a Pro Bowler in all but one of his 10 seasons in the NFL and should hit 300 career touchdowns with the Broncos, holding 292 ahead of the 2022 season.

Pete Carroll says the Seattle Seahawks can be successful without Russell Wilson and revealed Geno Smith is winning the battle to be starting quarterback.

Wilson's departure to the Denver Broncos ahead of the 2022 season is a massive blow for the Seahawks, having led the team to a first Super Bowl triumph in 2013 and a return to the Super Bowl the following year.

Carroll will have to do it without Wilson in 2022, a big year for the team after the 2021 season saw the Seahawks miss out on a playoff spot for only the second time in 10 seasons.

With Seattle not making a move to land a high-profile replacement, having been linked to Baker Mayfield prior to his move to the Carolina Panthers, questions have been asked about how Carroll will fill the void.

The experienced coach is not concerned, though, referencing his years coaching in college football where he had to adjust his side every year following graduations.

"You went to the next guy. You always miss when the guys leave but you can see it (coming) so you start planning for it, you work and you can find success," he told a news conference.

"I'm taking it in stride, but I'm real determined to make it work.

"There's a lot of developing of the players and giving them the background they need and the substance they need to be able to play like they're capable."

The Seahawks have Smith and Drew Lock competing to be the first choice under center and although Carroll says the former is leading the way, he made it clear there is time for that to change.

"Geno is in the lead. He's ahead and he ain't looking back. He's going for it," he added.

"Drew is not going to take a back seat. Something is going to happen. You will not nail me on that [naming his starter]."

The Denver Broncos will make no excuses in 2022, says Tim Patrick, because it is "Super Bowl or bust" for a new-look team.

The Broncos were a miserable 7-10 at the bottom of the AFC West last year but have reshaped their organisation ahead of the new season.

A blockbuster trade for quarterback Russell Wilson from the Seattle Seahawks was the standout piece of business, but the Broncos also have a new coach in Nathaniel Hackett and a new offensive coordinator in Justin Outten.

While still playing in a highly competitive division, Denver's outlook has now changed completely.

And fifth-year wide receiver Patrick, who will hope to benefit from Wilson's arrival, has outlined the team's need for a fast start.

"We have to do things on our own, so we can get it," he said, "because we don't want to be one of those teams to make excuses – new coach, new quarterback, new offense – and we don't get going until the end of the year.

"We want to come out the gate firing on all cylinders, because it's Super Bowl or bust this year."

Those standards have already been raised by Wilson, who won a Super Bowl in Seattle.

"He's a big presence and he carries himself the right way," Patrick added.

"If you see Russ doing it and you're not... if you can't put in extra work, you're not serious about winning and you don't belong on this team."

Russell Wilson is determined not to be caught up in the emotion of his Week 1 return to Seattle after leaving the Seahawks for the Denver Broncos.

Wilson's 10-season career on the Seahawks, which included their Super Bowl XLVIII success, ended this offseason with his trade to the Broncos.

The 2022 NFL schedule release then threw up an early treat, with the Broncos visiting Lumen Field on September 12, in Wilson's first regular season game for the team.

But for all the fond memories the nine-time Pro Bowler has of his team as a Seahawk, his focus will be on a first win in Broncos colours.

"I think it's going to be an exciting time," Wilson told reporters. "Obviously, Seattle's meant the world to me over the past 10 years.

"It's a special place, special place to play, Lumen Field. I have a high regard for all those guys over there and what they do.

"I think, for me, it's non-emotional, though – it has got to be non-emotional.

"You've got to be able to go into it with an understanding that it's just ball – and also understand that there's been amazing times. There's been a lot of touchdowns there, won a lot of games there, so I had a great experience.

"It'll always be a special place in my heart forever. So, for me, it's about going up there and trying to play the best football for our football team here and try to go win."

Crucially, Wilson is set to get in Denver what he was denied in Seattle, an offense shaped entirely around his ability at QB.

New Broncos head coach Nathaniel Hackett said: "We want to build this thing completely around him and make sure that he's comfortable and watch him come alive."

Pete Carroll believes the Seattle Seahawks "got a really good deal" for Russell Wilson but added they will not be looking to trade another superstar in DK Metcalf.

Long-time Seahawks quarterback Wilson was moved with a fourth-round pick to the Denver Broncos for two first-round picks, two second-round picks and a fifth-round pick, along with Drew Lock, Shelby Harris and Noah Fant.

That deal signalled the end of an era in Seattle, where Wilson had been the starter since being drafted in 2012, winning the Super Bowl in his second season.

Prior to the trade, Carroll had insisted the Seahawks had "no intention of making any move there".

But speaking on Tuesday, the head coach said: "Things change. There was a long period in there working it. I didn't have the intention of going crazy, but we looked at the opportunity.

"Once we got a good look at it, there was reason. We got a really good deal, so we went ahead and made it. It took a long time to get to that, though.

"We had a long process where I didn’t think we would do it. It was such a complicated trade to make."

Given Carroll's wording, Seahawks fans might be concerned by his update on the future of wide receiver Metcalf, who is entering the final year of his rookie deal.

"We intend for him to be with us," Carroll said. "We'd love to figure that out."

However, he added some certainty on the future a 24-year-old who last year had 12 receiving touchdowns – more than either Davante Adams or Tyreek Hill, two players who have this offseason secured huge new contracts following trades.

"We're not on that topic yet specifically, because we've got so many other things going on, but we'd love to have him," Carroll said. "There's no way I could imagine playing without him."

Among those "many other things" is the identity of Wilson's successor under center, even as the Seahawks work to re-sign his former back-up Geno Smith.

The team are "definitely still in the quarterback business," Carroll said. Malik Willis and Kenny Pickett could be options in the draft, but talks with Colin Kaepernick "have not progressed".

For now, former Broncos QB Lock is in the box seat, despite underwhelming across three seasons in Denver in which he earned only 21 starts.

Lock threw 15 interceptions in his sole season as a regular starter in 2020, leading Carroll to acknowledge "there's a lot of turnovers in his game" and "that just doesn't fit with us". "We just have to fix that," he said.

However, the Seahawks coach can also "still see" the "big, strong-armed, mobile, aggressive, athletic quarterback" that came out of college.

"All we're seeing right now is upside," he added.

Drew Lock is relishing the chance of a "fresh start" with the Seattle Seahawks and is aware of the size of the task that awaits him after replacing Russell Wilson.

The 25-year-old has been acquired by the Seahawks as part of a deal that saw Wilson head the opposite way to the Denver Broncos.

Lock appeared in just six games for the Broncos last season, starting only half of those, but he is hopeful of getting his career back on track in a new chapter in his career.

"I was ready for something to happen, and then when I found out that this is what happened, I was really, really excited," he said.

"I'm excited for a fresh start, excited to come in and compete for a starting job and do everything I can to show this organisation and show this league what I'm capable of doing.

"I've got new team-mates, new coaching staff, new energy, new this, new that, new feel, whatever it may be, a new practice field, it's just the true definition of a fresh start.

"You get to make a new identity for everything, you get to come in and show these people how hard you want to work, how bad you want it, how bad you want to win games. 

"There's just a lot of good that can come from a new chair in a meeting room. There's a lot that goes into all this, and a fresh start for me is really, really exciting."

Lock is competing for a starting spot with Jacob Eason, the only other QB on the Seahawks' roster, and is confident of adapting to Shane Waldron's offensive system.

"I obviously know a little bit about coach Waldron's system, which is similar to the one I ran my rookie year when I first got in the league," Lock said.

"We won four of the five games, and I played efficient football, took care of the ball, scored in the red zone, hit the deep shots when they were there.

"When we start talking and getting into the deep details of his offense, we'll put it all together and end up being able to put a good offense together that makes my skill set shine. 

"I can throw the deep ball, I can move around in the pocket, I can play-action. Whatever you might need me to do, I'll be able to do it."

Lock will wear the number two jersey with the Hawks as a sign of respect for the departing Wilson, who spent nine years with Seattle.

Wilson threw for 37,059 passing yards, 292 touchdowns and 87 interceptions during his Seahawks career and he averaged 7.83 pass yards per attempt.

That is a tally only Deshaun Watson (8.32), Patrick Mahomes (8.10) and Peyton Manning (7.89) bettered among quarterbacks across that period.

He also ranked fourth in touchdown percentage (6.2) and third in passing plays of 25 yards or more (323), leaving a massive void to be filled in the 2022 season.

But while Lock is full of respect for what Wilson achieved with the Seahawks, he is out to write his own chapter at Lumen Field.

"As long as football goes on, Russell Wilson will be very special to this place, very special to Seattle," he said. 

"I know what it takes to, kind of build a legacy. You wouldn't go wear 18 in Indianapolis, you wouldn't go wear 12 in Green Bay. It's a sign of respect for him from me.

"But also at the same time, I want to write my own story here. I want to see what two does for us. I want to make that me. 

"I don't want to fight against Russell, he's done so many great things for this place and so many great things for the city of Seattle and the state of Washington. 

"I want two to be Drew, and that's just kind of been my mindset on it. 

"I have the utmost respect for him and that was a move in showing that."

The NFL offseason is as exciting as it has ever been in 2022 – and several of the biggest moves have centred on the AFC West.

This was already one of the deepest divisions in football, headlined by Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs but also featuring the 2021 fifth seed Las Vegas Raiders and gunslinging Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert in its supporting cast.

But the lineup for next season promises to be even more enticing.

The Raiders have worked to make sure they have not been left behind by the big-spending Chargers, while the Denver Broncos have also made a significant move to climb into contention.

In fact, over the past two weeks, the Chiefs have perhaps been among the big losers – watching on while the rest of their division have been getting busy...

March 8: Russell Wilson (Seahawks to Broncos)

The NFC West was previously the standard-bearer for hugely competitive divisions, but the power shifted as its fourth-placed Seattle Seahawks traded superstar quarterback Wilson to the AFC West's fourth-placed Broncos. With Aaron Rodgers staying with the Green Bay Packers, when a move to Denver had been mooted, a big play for Wilson was vital if the Broncos were to make up a significant gap. The Super Bowl XLVIII champion has ranked fourth for both pass yards per attempt (7.83) and touchdown percentage (6.2) across his NFL career – a significant upgrade on the Broncos' 2021 QBs Teddy Bridgewater and Drew Lock.

March 10: Khalil Mack (Bears to Chargers)

With Herbert running the offense, the Chargers have moved to improve the other side of the ball – first by trading for edge rusher Mack. A second-round pick in this year's draft was the primary compensation for a six-time Pro Bowler, immediately boosting a unit that ranked 23rd in total defense (360.1 yards per game) and 30th in run defense (138.9) last year. Mack struggled with injuries in his final year with the Chicago Bears but comes in opposite Joey Bosa, who ranks third in the NFL for QB pressures (389) and sixth for sacks (58) since his 2016 debut; Mack is fourth (388) and seventh (57.5) over that same period.

March 14: J.C. Jackson (free agent to Chargers)

As well as draft collateral, the Chargers had salary cap to work with and sent a large chunk of it to cornerback Jackson, allowed to leave by the New England Patriots. Jackson had certainly earned his pay day, leading the NFL in interceptions (25) since debuting in New England in 2018. This playmaking ability was also illustrated by the 26-year-old giving up big plays on only 18.9 per cent of his targets last season, the eighth-best rate among corners with at least 50 targets.

March 15: Randy Gregory (free agent to Broncos)

The Chargers' edge-rushing duo will take some beating, but the Broncos upgraded in that position, too, by giving up to $70million to Gregory, who had been set to re-sign with the Dallas Cowboys. Gregory, who missed almost three full seasons due to violations of the NFL's substance abuse policy, had finally established himself as a starter in 2021 with career highs in sacks (six) and QB hits (17) playing opposite DeMarcus Lawrence. The 29-year-old linebacker will now be paired with Bradley Chubb, despite a return to Denver for Von Miller being floated earlier in the month.

March 16: Chandler Jones (free agent to Raiders)

Having seen their division rivals make big moves, the Raiders responded with a $51m offer to Jones, while trading Yannick Ngakoue to the Indianapolis Colts for corner Rock Ya-Sin. Ngakoue had 10 sacks and forced two fumbles in his sole season in Las Vegas, but Jones (10.5 and six) topped both figures for the Arizona Cardinals in 2021. In fact, since Jones came into the league with the Patriots in 2012, he leads both categories, with 107.5 sacks and 33 fumbles forced. Although now 32, he shows few signs of slowing.

March 17: Davante Adams (Packers to Raiders)

The most stunning move of the lot followed on Thursday, when Adams' refusal to play for the Packers on the franchise tag led to his trade to the Raiders for a first and a second-round pick in 2022 (22 and 53 overall). The deal suddenly gives Raiders QB Derek Carr arguably the best offensive weapon in the NFL – and one he can go to time and time again, given Adams was targeted on a league-leading 35.4 per cent of his routes in 2021, which yielded career highs in catches (123) and receiving yards (1,553). Fellow wideout Hunter Renfrow may now see less of the ball than in his first 1,000-yard season (1,038), but he should also benefit from the attention Adams inevitably draws. The Raiders already ranked sixth in passing offense (268.6 yards per game).

Russell Wilson does not fear playing in a loaded AFC West division and says he wants to play another 10 to 12 years and win three or four more Super Bowls with the Denver Broncos.

The blockbuster trade of Wilson from the Seattle Seahawks to the Denver Broncos was made official on Wednesday, the start of the new NFL league year.

The Broncos agreed to send two first-round picks, a pair of second-rounders and a fifth-round selection to the Seahawks to land the nine-time Pro Bowler.

Also included in the deal were quarterback Drew Lock, tight end Noah Fant and defensive lineman Shelby Harris, with a fourth-round pick going to Denver along with Wilson.

Having spent his career to this point in the ultra-competitive NFC West, Wilson now has to contend with Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs, who have hosted the last four AFC Championship Games, Justin Herbert and the Los Angeles Chargers and Derek Carr and a Las Vegas Raiders team that made the playoffs last season.

Wilson is relishing six games against such high-quality competition.

Asked about his divisional foes at his introductory media conference, Wilson replied: "Why would you want it any other way? I want to play against the best, I don't fear anything, so I'm looking forward to it.

"My goal is to play 10-12 more years and hopefully win three or four more Super Bowls, that's my mindset."

In a series of farewell statements from the franchise hierarchy, the Seahawks suggested it was Wilson who initiated the process that led to Seattle trading away the greatest quarterback in team history.

"Russell has been a tremendous player, leader, and member of our organisation since the day we drafted him in the third round in 2012," general manager John Schneider said.

"His tireless work ethic has helped make him one of the most successful QBs in NFL history and we thank him for his many contributions on the field and in the community.

"When it became evident that Russell was interested in playing elsewhere, we used that opportunity to explore the market, allowing us to acquire three quality players, tremendous draft capital, and create salary cap flexibility. We have a clear vision about the direction of this team, and this is an exciting time for our organisation."

Wilson, though, rejected such claims, responding: "I didn't initiate it. It was definitely mutual.

"We'll have to read about it later, we'll have some fun maybe with my book one day, we'll have some good stories."

Russell Wilson joining the Denver Broncos is exactly what the team needed, says wide receiver Courtland Sutton.

After Aaron Rodgers opted to stay with the Green Bay Packers, the Broncos – who had been seen as a possible landing spot for the back-to-back NFL MVP – instead struck a blockbuster trade deal with the Seattle Seahawks.

The Broncos, who went 7-10 in 2021, will send a package of picks including two first-round selections to Seattle along with players, with quarterback Drew Lock among those to move in the other direction.

Even with Seattle's struggles as they themselves went 7-10 last season, Wilson still ranked sixth in big plays (25+ yards) passing with 36.

He now joins an offense boasting an extremely talented receiving corps featuring Sutton, Jerry Jeudy, K.J. Hamler and Tim Patrick.

With Denver also having a competitive defense, they were seen as being an elite QB away from contending, which Sutton hopes has been addressed with nine-time Pro Bowler and former Super Bowl winner Wilson arriving.

"We're so excited," Sutton told NFL Network. "Our room, an offense, team, we've had a lot of guys come in and contribute and every step that we've had, it's been appreciated. 

"But to be able to have Russ come in and, having had the success that he's had, having the knowledge that he has, for us as young guys, all the young talent that we have, that's what we need. 

"We need that guy who is going come in and be who he is, what he already brings to the table. We're excited. 

"It sets the tempo for our entire team – everyone understands the time we are on now."

Wilson becomes the latest top-tier quarterback in a loaded AFC West that also includes Kansas City Chiefs superstar Patrick Mahomes, Los Angeles Chargers sensation Justin Herbert and Derek Carr of the Las Vegas Raiders.

The Chiefs have won the division for six straight seasons while the Chargers have just traded for star pass-rusher Khalil Mack to further boost a roster which is led by the impressive Herbert.

Sutton therefore is under no illusions that success will come easily despite the arrival of Wilson.

"We haven't been able to handle the West as we should and as we would like to," he said.

"Getting Russ is definitely going to put us in that spot that we want to be in. It's on us to go out there and put that work together. 

"All these things sound really good, on paper but it's on us to go put this work in, all the way from now to the beginning of the season to be able to put ourselves in that spot to be able to say we are the best in the West. 

"It's not just gonna be something that's given to us because we picked up Russ. It's on us, all of us, to put that work together and take it to that next level, max out that potential."

Wilson threw for 37,059 passing yards, 292 touchdowns and 87 interceptions during his Seahawks career.

During his 10 seasons with Seattle, only three quarterbacks, Deshaun Watson (8.32), Patrick Mahomes (8.10) and Peyton Manning (7.89) averaged more pass yards per attempt than Wilson's 7.83.

He also ranked fourth in touchdown percentage (6.2) and third in passing plays of 25+ yards (323).

The Denver Broncos have agreed in principle a trade to acquire Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson, according to multiple reports.

The Broncos had been viewed as a potential destination for Aaron Rodgers, but any talk of the reigning NFL MVP moving to Denver was put to bed when it was reported he had agreed a record-breaking four-year, $200million contract extension to stay with the Green Bay Packers.

Instead, it is Wilson who looks set to take his career to Denver after the Broncos agreed to send multiple first-round picks, as well as additional selections and players to the Seahawks to land the nine-time Pro Bowler, according to NFL Network's Tom Pelissero.

ESPN's Adam Schefter reported the trade is pending a physical and Wilson's approval, and that Broncos quarterback Drew Lock is part of the deal.

The Denver Broncos have agreed in principle a trade to acquire Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson, according to multiple reports.

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