Russell Wilson reveals Broncos’ ultimatum over contract

Broncos asked Wilson to modify his contract or face benching

Denver Broncos quarterback Russell Wilson has confirmed that the team asked him to alter his contract mid-season, threatening to bench him for the rest of the year if he refused. Wilson’s comments come in response to head coach Sean Payton’s announcement that he would not start in the team’s final two games.

Wilson, who signed a five-year, $242.6 million contract extension with the Broncos in 2022, said he was approached by the team’s management in November and asked to waive his injury guarantee for the 2025 season. Wilson’s $39 million salary for 2024 is already guaranteed, but if he is on the roster on March 17, his 2025 salary of $37 million will also become guaranteed. The Broncos wanted Wilson to give up that guarantee in case they decided to part ways with him after this season.

“I was told that if I didn’t agree to it, I wouldn’t play again,” Wilson said. “I felt like that was unfair and disrespectful. I came here to win and I want to play here. I love this team and this city. I didn’t sign that contract to sit on the bench.”

Wilson says he wants to stay with the Broncos despite benching

Wilson said he declined the Broncos’ request and hoped to continue playing and leading the team. However, he was informed on Wednesday that he would be benched for the remaining two games and replaced by backup Jarrett Stidham. Wilson said he was disappointed and frustrated by the decision, but respected Payton’s authority as the head coach.

Russell Wilson

“I don’t agree with it, but I understand it,” Wilson said. “It’s a business decision and they have to do what they think is best for the team. I still support my teammates and I’ll be ready if they need me.”

Wilson said he still wants to stay with the Broncos and hopes to resolve the contract issue in the offseason. He said he has not requested a trade and has not spoken to any other teams. He said he believes he can still play at a high level and win championships with the Broncos.

“I’m not giving up on this team or this organization,” Wilson said. “I still have a lot of faith and confidence in what we can do. I think we have a great roster and a great coaching staff. We just need to find a way to get on the same page and work together.”

Broncos face uncertain future at quarterback position

The Broncos’ decision to bench Wilson has raised questions about the team’s future at the quarterback position. Wilson, who turns 35 in November, has been one of the most successful and durable quarterbacks in NFL history, winning a Super Bowl and making nine Pro Bowls with the Seattle Seahawks before joining the Broncos in 2022. He has started 191 consecutive regular-season games, the second-longest streak among active quarterbacks.

However, Wilson has also faced criticism for his inconsistent and turnover-prone play with the Broncos. He has thrown for 6,440 yards, 46 touchdowns and 21 interceptions in 30 games with the team, while being sacked 89 times. He has led the Broncos to a 15-15 record, missing the playoffs in both seasons.

The Broncos, who have not made the postseason since 2015, have struggled to find a long-term solution at quarterback since Peyton Manning retired. They have used 10 different starters at the position since 2016, including Wilson, Stidham, Drew Lock, Teddy Bridgewater, Joe Flacco, Case Keenum, Paxton Lynch, Trevor Siemian, Brock Osweiler and Brandon Allen.

The Broncos could release Wilson in March and save $39 million in cap space, but they would also incur $42 million in dead money charges over the next two years. They could also trade Wilson after June 1 and spread the dead money over four years, but they would not receive any immediate cap relief. Alternatively, they could keep Wilson and hope to restructure his contract or work out a new deal.

The Broncos could also look to draft a quarterback in the 2024 NFL draft, where they are projected to have the 15th overall pick. Some of the top prospects in this year’s class include Matt Corral from Ole Miss, Kenny Pickett from Pittsburgh, Malik Willis from Liberty, Sam Howell from North Carolina and Desmond Ridder from Cincinnati.

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