The New Orleans Saints were one of several teams that pursued quarterback Russell Wilson this offseason.

But despite being involved in negotiations with the Seattle Seahawks, the Saints never actually had a shot to land the former Super Bowl champion, who was eventually traded to the Denver Broncos.

That’s because Wilson, who had a no-trade clause in his contract with the Seahawks, only wanted to go to Denver. He could’ve blocked a trade to New Orleans.

Seattle’s front office knew this, but they wanted to keep the Saints in the negotiations so Denver would be forced to give up more for the veteran quarterback.

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Aug 27, 2022; Denver, Colorado, USA; Denver Broncos quarterback Russell Wilson (3) prior to the game against the Minnesota Vikings at Empower Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

ESPN’s Brady Henderson recently spoke with various folks involved with the Wilson trade and he offered some insight into how the Saints were used as pawns in the deal.

It was so bad that Seattle general manager John Schneider apologized to the Saints for leading them on.

From ESPN:

The Seahawks received calls from the Broncos and several other teams, including the Saints, New York Giants and Washington Commanders. They knew Wilson wanted Denver, according to a front-office source, but kept New Orleans involved in the bidding so the Broncos would have to compete against another offer.

Schneider later apologized to the Saints and other teams who had called, having told them they weren’t trading Wilson. Denver was Wilson’s only option and Schneider’s preferred choice, because Drew Lock was the quarterback Schneider wanted in return. Schneider met with Broncos GM George Paton at the Senior Bowl in early February and again at the scouting combine in Indianapolis a month later. At the combine, Carroll told reporters in carefully chosen wording that the team had “no intention” of trading Wilson.

That’s poor form by the Seahawks. But ultimately, the Saints are better off without Wilson.

He’s a great quarterback, but the Broncos gave up a lot to get him.

And there was a reason why Seattle was willing to deal the nine-time Pro-Bowler — the feeling from the Seahawks was that Wilson doesn’t have the same speed to escape trouble that he possessed as a younger player. They believed that element of his game has been key to his success. Without that speed, they didn’t think he could be the same quarterback long-term.

If that’s the case, then New Orleans will be better off with their draft picks and Jameis Winston.

Sometimes the best deals are the deals that aren’t made.

Featured image via Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports