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#pounditSunday, June 16, 2024

Broncos reportedly make drastic move with Russell Wilson

Russell Wilson in practice gear

Jun 13, 2022; Englewood, CO, USA; Denver Broncos quarterback Russell Wilson (3) during mini camp drills at the UCHealth Training Center. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

The Denver Broncos may be laying the groundwork to part ways with Russell Wilson after the season.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports that Broncos head coach Sean Payton has informed the team that Wilson will be benched for Sunday’s game against the Los Angeles Chargers. Jarrett Stidham will start in Wilson’s place.

The Broncos are coming off a disappointing 26-23 loss to the New England Patriots, which all but eliminated them from postseason contention. Schefter said Payton is looking to “spark” Denver’s offense, but the decision to bench Wilson is financially motivated as well.

Wilson has massive injury guarantees in his contract, so benching him will mitigate the risk of those being triggered. The 35-year-old quarterback is already guaranteed $39 million in 2024. His $37 million salary for 2025 will also become fully guaranteed if he remains on Denver’s roster on March 17. Wilson’s 2025 salary would also vest if Wilson suffered an injury that prevented him from passing a physical in March.

We saw a similar situation play out with Derek Carr in Las Vegas last season. The Raiders knew they were going to move on from Carr, so they benched him late in the year to avoid the risk of having to pay an injury guarantee.

As long as Wilson does not get hurt over the final two weeks of the season, the Broncos would be in a position to cut him in 2024. They would still have to absorb a big financial hit next season, but they would have far more financial flexibility in 2025.

Wilson is in his second season with the Broncos and has improved significantly from his brutal 2022 season. He has passed for 3,070 yards with 26 touchdows and 8 interceptions, but he has still fallen short of what Denver has hoped for.

Payton likely took the Denver job knowing he would try to make it work with Wilson for a season but move on if things did not go well. The Broncos are paving the way for Payton to find a new quarterback in 2024.

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