On Wednesday, it was revealed that the Denver Broncos would be benching Russell Wilson for the remainder of the 2023 NFL Season, likely signaling the end of the era in Denver. Even though Russell Wilson is statistically much better this year than in 2022, the stats have essentially been empty calories, and head coach Sean Payton, who makes the final roster moves, is signaling the end of the Wilson era:
Essentially, Wilson's $37 million salary in 2025 becomes guaranteed if he were to suffer an injury, so benching him does not put him at risk for that injury. The Broncos are likely moving on from Wilson in 2024, so they will have to eat nearly $90 million in dead money, which is not ideal, but they are at least not going to be on the hook for $37 million, which would kick in at the beginning of the 2024 NFL league year.
After 30 starts, Russell Wilson is done in Denver. He finished with 42 touchdown passes, a passer rating at 90.9, and an 11-19 regular season record. It's not been ideal for the team after trading a haul of picks and players for the QB in 2022. I don't think a single soul in Broncos Country wanted it to end like this, but sometimes that's what happens in the NFL.
So now, the Denver Broncos will turn to backup QB Jarrett Stidham for the rest of the 2023 NFL Season. Stidham has limited NFL action under his belt and is likely not the long-term answer in Denver, but the Broncos did sign him to a $10 million contract in the offseason, so Sean Payton clearly sees something with Stidham.
Payton will now be tasked with finding a long-term answer in Denver, and we should likely expect the Broncos to take a QB at some point in the 2024 NFL Draft. On the other side of things, is this the end for Russell Wilson in the NFL?
I mean, if an offensive genius in Sean Payton cannot make it work, will another team try? I do think Wilson won't exactly be signed to start in 2024; I think he'll have to battle it out on a team. But I do see destinations for him that make sense, including the Atlanta Falcons and Pittsburgh Steelers. In the coming months, we will continue to see the fallout of this huge move.