Russell Wilson to start in Week 1

Updated: August 27, 2012, 1:44 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

Pete Carroll and John Schneider were overjoyed during the NFL draft in April when the Seattle Seahawks were able to grab Russell Wilson in the third round.

Even they couldn't anticipate that Wilson would be the Seahawks' Week 1 starter.

But that was the word from Carroll on Sunday night after he announced the undersized, but highly successful rookie quarterback out of Wisconsin will be the starter when the regular season begins Sept. 9 at Arizona.

"It's been a very exciting competition that has gone on, and Russell has taken full advantage of his opportunities and has done everything that we have asked for on the field and more than what you guys could know off the field in meeting rooms and with our players and how he's represented. He's earned this job," Carroll said on a conference call Sunday night. "It was a legitimate competition as we said from the beginning, and with the opportunity he's taken advantage of he deserves to start."

The 5-foot-11 Wilson has been a dynamic star during the preseason. For the first two weeks, his performance came against backups during the second halves of victories over Tennessee and Denver.

But what Wilson displayed during those two halves was enough for Carroll to give him the start Friday night against Kansas City. Wilson's response: 13-of-19 passing for 185 yards, two touchdowns and a passer rating of 134.8. And if he didn't show enough with his arm, Wilson added another 58 yards rushing.

"He is so prepared. He doesn't seem like a first-year player," Carroll said. "He seems like he's been around. He gets it, he understands and he is a tremendous leader in that way. He doesn't do anything but the right thing in all of his work and his preparation and his competitiveness has been demonstrated again."

The performance had Seattle fans buzzing and most accepting the idea that Wilson would be the starter. Carroll said Wilson took the news in stride.

"He expects to be good and he expects to be successful and he expects to make plays," Carroll said.

Wilson being named the starter leaves Matt Flynn on the sidelines, and according to Carroll, understandably disappointed.

Flynn was Seattle's big free-agent splash in the offseason and the most highly sought after quarterback not named Manning after spending the last few seasons as Aaron Rodgers backup in Green Bay. But Flynn failed to show the same flashes as Wilson during his two preseason opportunities and sat out the game in Kansas City with a sore elbow.

Flynn's injury isn't considered to be severe, but sitting out against the Chiefs didn't help his case for the job.

"I'm disappointed for him too because I know how much he wants it," Carroll said.

Flynn signed a three-year, $26 million deal, with $10 million guaranteed while Wilson, a third-round selection, is guaranteed just $619,400. The guaranteed salary discrepancy means Seattle's new starting quarterback will be making 16 times less than his backup.

Tarvaris Jackson, who started 14 games at QB for Seattle last year, is bound for the Buffalo Bills after the teams agreed to a trade earlier Sunday, league sources told ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter. The Seahawks will receive an undisclosed draft pick.

Four other teams have already said they will start rookie quarterbacks in Week 1 (Miami and Ryan Tannehill, Cleveland and Brandon Weeden, Indianapolis and Andrew Luck, and Washington and Robert Griffin III). According to the Elias Sports Bureau, 2012 could be the first year with more than two rookie quarterbacks starting in Week 1 since the AFL-NFL merger in 1970.

Information from ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter and The Associated Press was used in this report.

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