Broncos only have one way out of Russell Wilson debacle

How do the Broncos get out of the mess they've made?
Denver Broncos, Russell Wilson
Denver Broncos, Russell Wilson / CFP/GettyImages

The Denver Broncos can't get out of the Russell Wilson contract all that easily. If the Broncos truly want to move on from Wilson in 2024, it's going to require them to pay him the $39 million he's guaranteed this year to play for another team as well as take on a dead cap hit of $85 million.

So if the Broncos do move on from Wilson, you know they really wanted to. That's no small chunk of cash or cap.

But to get out of this whole debacle, the Broncos can't merely pay Russ to play for another team or eat a massive dead cap hit. No, to truly get out of the mess they've made, the Broncos have to do something else. Something far more important.

It might sound obvious and even a little silly, but the Broncos have to find a quarterback.

Do you want to know how you can stop the football world from talking about Russell Wilson's dead cap hit and the fact that you're paying him $39 million to play for someone else in 2024? You get yourself a quarterback.

That's the only way the Broncos can set themselves free.

Two years of Russell Wilson in Denver did not equal instant success whatsoever. It was anything but a repeat of the Peyton Manning era. 

In Wilson’s first year with the Broncos, Nathaniel Hackett was fired before the end of his first season on the job, joining a very short list of NFL head coaches to be fired amidst their rookie year. In Wilson’s second year, he took some huge steps forward under head coach Sean Payton, but it wasn’t good enough for Payton.

The veteran head coach benched Wilson with two games remaining, citing the need for a “spark” in the offense. Although there were discrepancies over whether or not Jarrett Stidham – the Broncos’ backup – could actually provide the spark, Payton was not wrong.

Perhaps his desire for a spark to the offense went much deeper than just turning to Stidham for a week. Perhaps Payton realized that in order to spark his offense, he would need to move on from Russell Wilson altogether.

The Broncos ranked 30th in the NFL in passing first down percentage. They ranked 24th in total passing yardage on the season. The Broncos were 26th in the NFL in plays and yards per drive. They were 21st on 3rd down 19th in the red zone, and 19th in total points scored.

Many marked improvements from last season, but not the type of success that Sean Payton – a guy who has almost exclusively had top 10 offenses his entire coaching career – envisioned. 

It's clear that the only way out of the purgatory the Broncos still find themselves in at the QB position is to hit on a QB, probably in the 2024 NFL Draft, maybe via trade. The Broncos have to find a guy they can consistently win with. They have to find someone who can be a long-term option for the franchise.

It's easier said than done, but the Broncos have just one way out.