Russell Wilson's NFL legacy at stake in the 2024 offseason

What's at stake for Russell Wilson in the 2024 offseason?

Russell Wilson
Russell Wilson / Justin Edmonds/GettyImages

The Denver Broncos made the controversial decision to bench Russell Wilson with two games remaining in the 2023 NFL regular season, and that decision has led many to believe that the Broncos will cut Wilson during the 2024 offseason. Frankly, it would only make sense given the fact that Sean Payton said the Wilson benching was due to a need for a "spark" within the offense, and there were some questionable conversations had off the field about Wilson's contract situation beyond the 2023 season as well.

While you can't rule out the possibility of Wilson returning to Denver for another season in 2024, the writing seems to be on the wall. It doesn't look like Wilson will be back in the Mile High City in 2024 even though his $39 million for this year is fully guaranteed. After two rough seasons in Denver, however, Russell Wilson will undoubtedly be weighing his NFL -- and Pro Football Hall of Fame -- legacy this offseason.

Even with financial security (to say the least) in 2024, where Wilson decides to play in the 2024 season could end up being a determining factor in his ultimate Hall of Fame candidacy. Does Wilson need a late-career resurgence in order to eventually be enshrined?

Prior to his arrival in Denver, I think many people viewed Wilson as being on a Hall of Fame path. He won a Super Bowl in just his second season. Although he'd never been named MVP, Wilson was often considered an MVP snub and has been one of the best dual-threat quarterbacks the league has ever seen. If Wilson had been able to go to Denver and lead the Broncos back to the postseason, where they currently hold the second-longest drought behind only the New York Jets, it would likely have cemented a Hall of Fame legacy for him.

Now, nobody's really sure where that could stand.

As Pro Football Talk's Mike Florio explains, the idea that Russell Wilson would be willing to go to another NFL team this offseason and take the minimum salary of roughly $1.21 million to be a backup is just not possible for Russ. He's just turned 35 this past year, and time is ticking.

"With money not an issue, he’ll be looking for a place where he’ll know he’s going to play — and where he thinks the team will be good enough to allow him to restore his status as a player who could end up with a bronze bust in Canton. The last two years have muddied if not drowned his case for the Hall of Fame. He arguably needs a Kurt Warner-style closing stretch to his career that makes 2022-23 a donut hole that can be overlooked when considering his case for enshrinement."

Mike Florio, PFT

If Wilson is able to go to another NFL team and have tremendous success, then perhaps Hall of Fame voters would view his tenure in Denver as something that simply was unavoidable due to a disastrous overall situation. But if Wilson goes elsewhere to become a starter and has struggles, the discussion of the Hall of Fame may be over and done with.

There should be a variety of suitors for Wilson at the price of potentially just $1.21 million, even if it has to come with the guarantee of being a starter. The Falcons, Steelers, Vikings, Raiders, Patriots, Giants, and maybe Buccaneers are all teams that could be in line for a bridge starter this year. The Commanders may be in that mix as well, especially with Dan Quinn's connection to Wilson.

But again, a starting spot may need to be completely guaranteed. Wilson will need to go to a situation where he is the clear QB1 and where he can make another run late in his career at the Hall of Fame.