April 24, 2024

Brighton Journal

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Broncos cut Russell Wilson and get $85M in dead money

Broncos cut Russell Wilson and get $85M in dead money

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — The Denver Broncos have informed nine-time Pro Bowl quarterback Russell Wilson that they plan to release him, a move that ends a tumultuous two-season run with the team.

“We spoke with Russell Wilson [Monday] To inform him of his release after the start of the general league [March 13, 4 p.m. ET]Coach Sean Payton and general manager George Paton said in a joint statement. “On behalf of the Broncos, we thank Russell for his contributions and dedication to our team and community while wishing him the best as he continues his career. As we move forward, we are focused on building the strongest team possible for the 2024 season and beyond. We are excited to improve this season and will have the flexibility to improve through Draft and free agency.

Wilson Issue a statement I thank the city of Denver, his many teammates, the team's cafeteria workers and Vice President of Player Development Ray Jackson. He did not mention Payton, Patton or team ownership.

“Over the past three years, you have welcomed me and my family with open arms and embraced us as members of the Denver community. This city will always hold a special place in my heart. Our family grew up here, and we made countless memories and friendships,” he wrote in the statement. “.

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“To my teammates, thank you for going to battle together and for being there through it all. There are so many moments I cherish because of you and I am blessed for the impact you have had on my life. I am so grateful to everyone.” From you and to be able to run as a teammate was an honor.”

He ended his statement by writing: “Tough times don't last, but strong people do. God has blessed me. I'm excited for what's next.”

Wilson's release will end a disappointing chapter for both sides. The Broncos went 11-19 under Wilson over two seasons and failed to make the playoffs. Payton benched him with two games remaining in 2023, a move that effectively marks the end of the quarterback's career in Denver.

The Broncos signed Wilson to a five-year, $242.6 million deal after his arrival and will have $85 million in dead money over the next two seasons due to the release.

In the coming weeks, the Broncos will have to decide whether to take the bulk of that dead money collected in the '24 or '25 season.

The Broncos did their best to acquire Wilson two years ago from the Seattle Seahawks, sending five draft picks, including two first-round and two second-round picks, as well as three players.

“It's pretty unique that you can trade for a quarterback — a franchise quarterback — in his prime, and we felt like we had to seize that opportunity,” Patton said at the time.

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Ultimately, the Broncos don't get enough franchise quarterback moments. Wilson played for three head coaches in Denver: Nathaniel Hackett and interim Gerry Rosburg in 2022 and Payton in 2023.

Wilson, 35, enters a free agent market where teams like the Minnesota Vikings and Pittsburgh Steelers could compete for the veteran.

“For me, it's about winning – in the next two years, I want to win twice [Super Bowls]“I want to feel the chills of that cup again,” Wilson said recently on the “I’m an Athlete” radio show. “I love the city and everything else, but you also want to be like that.” [in] A place that wants you too. The thing I want to do is win, that's all that matters to me.”

When Payton was asked at the scouting group about striving to find an answer at quarterback long-term, he said, “We're better.”

After last year's offseason training camp when Payton promised to fit the offense around Wilson that played to his strengths, the Broncos opened the season 1-5.

The turning point in football's public divorce was likely the conversation between Wilson, his representatives and the Broncos during the team's Week 9 bye in 2023. The Broncos maintain they want to find a “creative way” for Wilson to waive, or adjust, the $37 million injury guarantee in his contract. .

Wilson said he was told at the time that if he and his representatives didn't play money ball, he would be pulled from the start.

“They definitely told me I was going to be on the bench and all that,” Wilson said at the end of the season.

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The Broncos, including Paton and owner/CEO Greg Penner, said discussions about cap relief or salary cap relief were “in good faith” and common in the league between a team and a player with such a lucrative long-term deal. .

“It didn't come up again, Sean quickly in Week 17 made a change at the quarterback position,” Patton said. “This was a football decision made by Sean, which he believed was in the best interest of the team. This is completely independent of any conversations I had with the agent.