The city of Englewood, Colorado — In the days that followed the Denver Broncos’ first victory against the Kansas City Chiefs since 2015, team executives approached Russell Wilson to request that he modify a wage guarantee that was included in his contract. Wilson stated that if he did not comply, he would be “benched for the rest of the year.”
On Wednesday, head coach Sean Payton made the announcement that Wilson would not be starting for the next home game against the Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday. Instead, Jarrett Stidham would be starting in his place. Specifically, Payton has stated that the choice was made with the sole intention of “winning” and “getting a spark offensively.”
The veteran quarterback, who is already guaranteed $39 million in 2024 regardless of whether he is on the team or not, would receive an additional $37 million (his 2025 salary) guaranteed if he could not pass a physical on the fifth day of the new league year in March, according to Wilson, who stated on Friday that the Broncos approached him about waiving a guarantee in the five-year, $242.6 million contract that he signed in 2022.
According to insiders within the team, they had the intention of modifying the timing of that assurance.
Wilson stated on Friday that the decision-makers of the team informed him on “the Monday or Tuesday” following the Broncos’ victory over the Chiefs on October 29 that they would bench him if he did not adjust the $37 million guarantee.
“They definitely told me I was going to be benched and all that,” according to Wilson. For the entirety of that bye week, I was completely unsure of what was going to take place. On the thirteenth of November, I was going to be prepared to play, and I wanted to travel to Buffalo and win over Buffalo. Even though I’ve been playing for twelve years and everything, I wasn’t going to get rid of the injury guarantee since this game is so physically demanding.
“I want to be able to play sports, and I want to be able to contribute to the success of this team… It is a physical game, and I am aware of this fact every time I step onto the pitch. “I never act timid; I never act scared,” she said.
The Broncos had a record of 3-5 following their victory against the Chiefs, and if Wilson had sustained an injury during the next nine games of the season, the guarantee might have been activated if the ailment was severe enough to prevent him from being able to pass a medical examination starting in March. Wilson stated that the National Football League and its players’ association “got involved,” and he continued to serve as Denver’s starting quarterback for the course of the subsequent weeks, during which the team won games against the Buffalo Bills, the Minnesota Vikings, and the Cleveland Browns.
Wilson was officially placed on the bench after the team suffered three consecutive defeats in their last four games, including a setback to the New England Patriots on Sunday. Following this loss, Payton expressed his frank criticism of the offense.
Payton proceeded to restate that the decision was about “winning” and that he was not “privy” to conversations regarding benching Wilson due to a contract issue after Friday’s practice. He also stated that he was not privy to the conversations. George Paton, the general manager, and Greg Penner, the owner and CEO, were the ones he pointed to.
“I’m handling the football,” Payton said on Friday. “I’m not privy to any of those [discussions],” Payton said.
“That’s something with George and the front office, I’m not involved in any of that, certainly I’m involved in a lot and there will be a time and place at the end of the season that maybe some of the questions that you may have someone else will be able to answer.”
In a later statement, he stated, “I am aware of the way this has been written, but this decision is solely what I believe presents us with an opportunity to win No. 8.” This is a difficult choice, and there will be no other explanations.”
Wilson referred to the disagreements and the possibility of him being benched as a “low blow.”
“We got to 3-5, beat the Chiefs … [it] definitely hurt, a low blow,” said the quarterback.
It was a battle, but we prevailed. Those are some good teams. Being able to continue playing was a difficult task. It is difficult, and at the same time I have a job to complete, but at the end of the day, you have to put your head down and remain focused.”
What the Broncos decide to do with Wilson going forward will be the most important choice the organization will have to make regarding its roster over the next offseason. If Denver were to cut Wilson, the team would be subject to dead money charges totaling $85 million over the course of the 2024 and 2025 seasons combined. Additionally, the team only has six draft picks in April, and none of them are in the second round.
However, Wilson stated that he has contemplated the potential that he might not have a future with the Broncos, despite the fact that he continued to express hope that he does.
“I hope that it’s here, I hope that it’s here for a long time,” he told reporters on Friday. “If it’s not here, I’ll be ready to do that somewhere else, but I hope that it’s here,” she said. “I hope that we win some more championships and some more silverware in the front hall. I hope that we get some more championships.” In all sincerity, I am referring to the fact that I brought my family along with everything else.
Despite the fact that the Broncos (7-8) still have a remote possibility of making the postseason, they will be severely lacking in wide receivers when they play their divisional game on Sunday. Due to a concussion that he got during the game against the Patriots, Courtland Sutton will not be participating. Jerry Jeudy (illness) and Marvin Mims Jr. (hamstring) did not participate in practice on Friday and their status is currently unknown.