May 30, 2024

Denver Broncos inform QB Russell Wilson they’ll release him when new league year begins

Denver Broncos quarterback Russell Wilson (3) looks for a receiver during the second half of an NFL football game against the Las Vegas Raiders, Sunday, Sept. 10, 2023, in Denver. (AP Photo/Jack Dempsey)

By ARNIE STAPLETON AP Pro Football Writer
ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) — The Denver Broncos told Russell Wilson on Monday that they’re going to release him next week, just 18 months after signing the Super Bowl-winning quarterback to a five-year, $242 million contract extension.
The Broncos still owe Wilson his $39 million salary for 2024 minus whatever he’d sign for with another team, which would likely be the veteran’s minimum salary of $1.21 million.
One potential landing spot is Pittsburgh. The Steelers are set to visit Denver next season.
The Broncos also will take a record $89 million hit in dead cap charges over the next two seasons.
Wilson enjoyed a bounce-back year last season under new head coach Sean Payton, throwing for 26 touchdowns with eight interceptions in 15 games.
But it wasn’t good enough and Payton benched him for Jarrett Stidham for the final two games. Stidham went 1-1 and the Broncos finished 8-9, their seventh straight losing season and their eighth in a row outside the playoffs.
Payton hinted at an impending split at the NFL scouting combine last week when talking about Denver’s long string of middling quarterbacks and suggested his job was to make sure “the next one” was the right QB to lead the Broncos back into contention.
Wilson, who had gone radio silent on social media at Payton’s request a year ago, resumed sharing videos of his workouts and over the weekend he removed all Broncos references from his profile on X (formerly Twitter).
Wilson was acquired in 2022 from the Seattle Seahawks, where he won a Super Bowl title after the 2013 season, for a bevy of draft picks (two first-rounders and two seconds) and players (Drew Lock, Noah Fant and Shelby Harris).
He signed a nearly quarter-billion dollar extension before playing a single down in Denver and then went 4-11 in his first season under coach Nathaniel Hackett, who was fired after 15 games.
Payton had Wilson dial back his social media presence a year ago and a focused and fit Wilson showed up to training camp 20 pounds lighter.
He went 7-8 before being benched. Wilson contended the Broncos had threatened to bench him for the final nine games if he didn’t push back his $37 million injury guarantee in his contract.
He declined to adjust his contract and started seven more games before getting benched in what Payton insisted was a football move, not a financial one.
Wilson’s $37 million salary for 2025 would have become guaranteed if he were still on Denver’s roster on March 13, the start of the league’s new year.