All signs point to Russell Wilson leaving the Denver Broncos at some point before the start of the 2024 season. But his departure may not be as imminent as some might expect, at least according to the latest comments from Broncos coach Sean Payton.
On Tuesday, Payton stopped short of ruling out the idea the Super Bowl-winning quarterback could be back in Denver next season.
“That final decision has not been made,” Payton told reporters Tuesday.
Payton’s latest comments come less than two weeks after reports surfaced that Wilson would be benched for the team’s final two regular-season games.
Shortly after the benching was made public, Wilson revealed the Broncos approached him during the team’s bye week and informed him that he would be benched unless he reworked his contract.
According to Wilson, the conversation revolved around the guarantee against injury in his five-year, $245 million contract he signed last year. The contract kicks in next season.
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Wilson has an estimated $37 million salary in 2025, which becomes fully vested in March. If the quarterback suffered a significant injury at any point in the season, it would complicate his financial situation, NFL Network reported.
Payton and Wilson appeared to have a hot and cold relationship throughout the season. Cameras caught Payton yelling at Wilson on the sideline multiple times during the season.
The high point of the quarterback-coach relationship came during a five-game winning streak. Wilson lifted the team to three straight wins after the bye week before the Broncos dropped three of their next four games.
Backup quarterback Jarrett Stidham helped lift the team to a 16-9 victory over the Chargers in Week 17, and Denver finished with an 8-9 record.
“It’s too early,” Payton added during Tuesday’s press conference. “I spent half an hour with Russ yesterday, and I told him, ‘Look, I don’t think it’s going to be a long, drawn out process, but it hasn’t been decided relative to what our plans are.’”
The Broncos have now failed to reach the postseason eight consecutive seasons. In December, Wilson shared his preference to remain in Denver.
“I want to be here,” Wilson told reporters. “I want to play here. I want to be able to win here. I want to win championships here. I want to give my all every week no matter what the circumstances are, no matter what the score is.”
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