Broncos bench Russell Wilson for rest of season to provide offensive ‘spark;’ QB expects to be cut, per report

As the year 2023 draws to a close, the Broncos have a record of 7-8 and a 1.4% chance of moving on to the postseason. This is due to the fact that they were defeated by the Patriots on Sunday, which eliminated any realistic possibility of them making the playoffs. Today, they have decided to put quarterback Russell Wilson on the bench for the last two games.

Based on the information provided by CBS Sports HQ Senior NFL insider Josina Anderson, the Broncos have stated that the decision to turn to backup quarterback Jarrett Stidham is intended to offer an offensive “spark” after a stretch of three games in a row, and that it has nothing to do with the quarterback’s contract. On the other hand, the signs are already up: Wilson had recently avoided inquiries regarding his future in Denver beyond the year 2023. However, if the quarterback had sustained an injury in the final two games of the season, the Broncos would have been unable to execute a smooth release of the quarterback at the end of the season, in the event that the team desired to move on.

It is unclear what motivated Sean Payton to relocate from Wilson to Stidham.

Broncos bench Russell Wilson for rest of season to provide offensive ‘spark;’ QB expects to be cut, per report

“I can tell you, look, we’re desperately trying to win,” the head coach remarked, as reported by 9News Sports in Denver during the interview. “Providing a spark offensively is the primary motivation behind this, and it is a decision that I am making,” she noted. One of the things that we noticed when we signed Stidham in the offseason, not just from preseason games but also from regular-season games, is that he is a guy that I am thrilled to see play. It is obvious that it is difficult, and all of us feel like, “Man, we didn’t do well enough.”

“If I didn’t feel like he gave us the chance to win, we wouldn’t be making that move.”

According to The Athletic, Wilson anticipates being demoted in the month of March. According to reports, he had been aware of his ultimate fate with the group for close to two months. If Wilson did not defer the injury guarantee trigger date that he has for 2025, which is $37 million guaranteed on the fifth day of the league year, the Broncos reached out to his representatives in late October. This was in the event that Wilson did not defer the accident guarantee trigger date.

Wilson has made significant progress since his shaky debut with the Broncos in 2022. Entering Week 16, he finished with 26 touchdowns, eight interceptions, and a passer rating of 98.0, which is his highest performance in the past three years. The Denver offense, on the other hand, has been struggling generally, ranking No. 16 in terms of scoring and No. 25 in terms of yards per game. And then there is the quarterback’s pricey contract, which is a whopper at $245 million and is scheduled to count $35.4 million against the salary limit in 2024.

It is possible that Payton and the relatively new ownership group of the Broncos would already like to press the reset button that is located under center. Certainly. Wilson is 35 years old and ranks fifth among quarterbacks in terms of annual earnings, despite the fact that he has shown improvement this year. Would Denver be able to move on? After the 2023 season, is it even possible for Payton and the rest of the team to get out of the contract that Wilson has with them?

Broncos bench Russell Wilson for rest of season to provide offensive ‘spark;’ QB expects to be cut, per report

In the short term, it is likely that Denver will not save a significant amount of money, but the answer is yes.

The specifics are as follows: Despite the fact that Wilson is currently under contract until 2028, his financial security is only assured until 2024. According to Over the Cap, if he continues to be a member of the Broncos’ roster at the beginning of the following league year (March 17), his whole compensation for the year 2025, which is 37 million dollars, will be guaranteed. Before that time, it is highly likely that Denver will make a decision on the quarterback’s future.

Outright releasing Wilson before the 17th of March is one of the choices available to the Broncos; however, doing so would actually result in a loss of $49.6 million per year in 2024. Because it is already anticipated that Denver will be at least $18 million above the cap in 2024, it would not be rational to take him off the roster immediately. The designation of him as a release that occurs after June 1 is, on the other hand, a distinct possibility. If that were to occur, Denver would be able to absorb Wilson’s pay for 2024, which is $35.4 million, while simultaneously avoiding any financial impact on the 2024 cap. To put it another way, they would not save anything initially, but millions of dollars by the year 2024.

There is also the alternative, which is a much less likely possibility: trading Wilson. There is no reason to believe that the quarterback would not have any market; it is highly likely that he has regained part of his value to other NFL teams after making a comeback from 2022. If, however, a trade were to take place before June 1st, the Broncos would suffer an instant loss of $32.6 million against their 2024 cap. However, in order to locate a trade partner, Denver would have to wait until the summer, which is a significant amount of time after the beginning of free agency, in order to make a deal with him after June 1 in order to save $17 million. This would be the greatest possible financial scenario for splitting with the quarterback.

A further consideration in all of this is Wilson’s health for the remaining years of the year 2023. Wilson was benched for the final two games of the season because injured players cannot be discharged, at least not without first reaching a negotiated injury settlement. This is the reason why Denver chose to bench Wilson. A notable move made by the Raiders was to demote former starter Derek Carr after the end of the 2022 season, despite the fact that his contract had a similar injury guarantee. Carr was then released during the offseason. The benching of Carr, on the other hand, almost certainly ensured that the couple would eventually end their relationship; this appears to be the case in Denver.

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