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Russell Wilson Update

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The fallout from the Russell Wilson continues, with more reporting on why Denver made the decision, the scuffle over Wilson’s contract and what’s next for the two sides.

Russell Wilson

According to NFL Media’s Ian Rapoport, sources from both the Broncos and Wilson’s camp continue to maintain that it is not a foregone conclusion the two sides split up this offseason.

Rapoport says the Broncos have indicated they won’t move on from Wilson unless they find a better option, while Wilson’s camp has pointed out he’s under contract for several more seasons.

However, the fact Broncos HC Sean Payton has benched Wilson for QB Jarrett Stidham suggests he’ll be highly motivated to find a quarterback he considers an upgrade. Rapoport acknowledges it is unlikely Wilson will be back in 2024.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter writes the Broncos and Wilson have four options this offseason:

  1. Denver can cut Wilson outright, escaping the $37 million injury guarantee in 2025 and creating an $85 million dead cap charge for 2024.
  2. Denver can use a June 1 designation to cut Wilson, splitting the dead cap to $35.4 million in 2024 and $49.6 million in 2025. Sources told Schefter this was more likely than outright cutting Wilson.
  3. The Broncos could try to trade Wilson, but would need to work with him to find a destination because he has a no-trade clause. Schefter adds Denver would have to sweeten the pot as well to get another team to take Wilson and his money.
  4. The final and least likely option, per Schefter, is the two sides reconciling and finding a way to make things work in 2024.

Rapoport goes on to say even though Payton ultimately took the Broncos head coaching job and pitched ownership on his plan to resurrect Wilson’s career last offseason, privately he had concerns about whether Wilson was “fixable.”

Wilson’s raw numbers have been solid in 2023 and he’s had some highlight reel throws when the play breaks down, but Rapoport notes Payton hasn’t been happy with Wilson’s struggles to operate the offense as designed.

Payton has been frustrated with his need to continue simplifying and paring down the offense to help it run smoothly and avoid pre-snap penalties. Players have noticed Wilson missing open receivers and privately wondered if Stidham could be better.

Stidham’s success operating the offense in practice also helped give Payton some confidence to make the move, per Rapoport.

Mark Maske of the Washington Post notes the NFLPA sent the Broncos a letter in November shortly after they threatened to bench Wilson if he did not move the injury guarantee in his contract. The letter said Denver’s threat violated the CBA and was grounds for potential litigation.

Rapoport notes the conversation was between Broncos GM George Paton and Wilson’s agent, Mark Rodgers. The two sides also discussed the issue during the summer.

Denver’s point of view was that moving the date of the guarantee to 2025 would allow the decision about Wilson to be just about 2024, not about the next two years.

Wilson plans to play in 2024, per Rapoport, and because of how much the Broncos still owe him, he likely will be available for the veteran minimum for whichever team wants him.

We recently took an in-depth look at which teams would make the most sense for Wilson.

Wilson, 35, is a former third-round pick of the Seahawks back in 2012. He was entering the final year of his five-year, $89.142 million contract when the Seahawks signed him to a four-year, $140 million extension that included a $65 million signing bonus.

The Seahawks traded him to the Broncos in 2022 in a blockbuster deal. Wilson stood to make base salaries of $19 million and $22 million over the final two years of his deal when he agreed to a new five-year, $245 million extension that included $165 million in guaranteed money.

In 2023, Wilson has appeared in 15 games for the Broncos and completed 66.4 percent of his passes for 3,070 yards, 26 touchdowns and eight interceptions to go along with 341 yards rushing and three touchdowns.

We’ll have more on Wilson as the news is available.

 

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