Russell Wilson

Russell Wilson expects Broncos to cut him, report says

The Broncos benched Wilson in favor of backup Jarrett Stidham on Wednesday

NBCUniversal Media, LLC

It looks like the 2024 NFL free agent class could include Russell Wilson.

The Athletic's Dianna Russini reported on Wednesday that Wilson expects to be cut by the Denver Broncos in March. Wilson reportedly has known for almost two months that the franchise was most likely going to move on from him after this season.

Russini's report came just hours after the Broncos benched Wilson in favor of backup Jarrett Stidham. The 7-8 Broncos, who have dropped three of their last four games, hold just an 8% chance of making the playoffs with two weeks left in the regular season, per

Wilson, 35, is guaranteed $39 million next season and he will be owed an additional $37 million in injury guarantees for 2025 if he's still on the roster come March 17, 2024. Since injured players can't be cut, the Broncos would owe Wilson the injury guarantees if he didn't pass his spring physical.

Russini reported that Broncos representatives reached out to Wilson in late October and told him he would be benched and made inactive for the rest of the season if he did not defer the injury guarantee trigger date. Lawyers, including from the NFLPA, were involved but no changes were made to the contract, according to Russini.

Head coach Sean Payton told reporters Wednesday that trying to spark the offense was the main reason for the quarterback change, not Wilson's contract.

"I understand all the speculation and everything that surrounds a move like that, and I can tell you we're desperately trying to win," Payton said. "Sure, in our game today there are economics and all those things, but the number one push behind this -- and it's a decision I'm making -- is to get a spark offensively.

"Obviously it's difficult and all of us feel like, 'Man, we didn't do enough.' But one of the things we saw when we signed Stidham in the offseason was -- not only film from preseason games but regular season games -- he's a guy that I'm anxious to see play. If I didn't feel like he gave us a chance to win, we wouldn't be making that move."

Wilson didn't speak to the media Wednesday but he did post on X that he was "looking forward to what's next."

Should Denver release Wilson before March 17, they would be on the hook for a staggering $85 million in dead cap money for 2024, per Spotrac. Should they release him with a post-June 1 designation, the transaction would come with $35.4 million in dead money for 2024 and $49.6 million in dead money for 2025.

NBC Sports' Jay Croucher breaks down the wild outlook that is the 2023 NFL Playoffs heading into Week 17.

The Broncos paid a steep price, including two first-rounders and two second-rounders, to acquire Wilson from the Seattle Seahawks in March of 2022. Denver then gave the Super Bowl champion QB a five-year, $245 million extension ahead of the 2022 campaign.

But the decision to go all-in on Wilson has proved to be a huge flop. The Broncos went just 4-11 with Wilson under center, and 5-12 overall, in 2022 as he had the worst season of his career.

There was hope that the addition of Payton as head coach this past offseason would help Wilson regain his Pro Bowl form. While Wilson's numbers are improved compared to his brutal 2022 season, it hasn't been enough to shed Denver's offensive struggles. The Broncos rank 16th in scoring, 20th on third down, 22nd in the red zone, 25th in passing and 31st in goal-to-go situations, per ESPN.

Contact Us