Broncos News: HC Sean Payton Provides Latest Update on Russell Wilson Situation

The Broncos have a move to make with Russell Wilson. On Tuesday, Sean Payton provided an update on Denver's QB plans.

The Denver Broncos have a decision to make on quarterback Russell Wilson — but they’ve likely already made it.

After benching Wilson with two games remaining in the regular season, the Broncos are expected to move on from the veteran signal-caller. Reports have suggested that Wilson could agree to a revised contract enabling him to stick in Denver, but there’s been no movement on that front this offseason.

Speaking at the NFL Combine on Tuesday, Broncos head coach Sean Payton provided an updated timeline on Wilson’s situation.

What’s Next for Broncos, Russell Wilson?

Denver remains likely to release Wilson this offseason, parting ways with the quarterback that cost them two first-round picks, two second-rounders, three players, and a massive contract extension less than 24 months ago.

Payton said the Broncos anticipate making a move with Wilson in the next two weeks.

“We go through the Combine week here. Next week, Tuesday, Wednesday, we will be in meetings with ownership,” Payton said. “So, I expect that we’re going to know fairly quickly.”

Wilson’s 2024 base salary ($17 million) is already fully guaranteed. But if the 35-year-old is still on Denver’s roster on the fifth day of the 2024 NFL league year, his 2025 base salary ($37 million) will also become guaranteed.

The Broncos can’t let that happen. Denver benched Wilson in favor of backup QB Jarrett Stidham in Week 17 to remove the risk of an injury. Had Wilson suffered an injury and been unable to pass a physical this offseason, the Broncos would’ve been on the hook for his 2025 cash.

Denver can release Wilson this offseason, but they can’t simply cut him without strings attached. Doing so would leave the Broncos with $85 million in dead money and a net loss of nearly $50 million in 2024 cap space.

Instead, Denver will likely use a post-June 1 designation when it releases Wilson. While the nine-time Pro Bowler would immediately depart the Broncos’ roster, the club could spread his dead money over the next two seasons: $35.4 million in 2024 and $49.6 million in 2025.

If Wilson is cut this year, he’ll become a free agent for the first time in his career. He’d join a list of free agent quarterbacks scheduled to include Kirk Cousins, Baker Mayfield, Gardner Minshew, and Jacoby Brissett.

Wilson has indicated he’d prefer to remain in Denver. However, he is unwilling to adjust the vesting date for his 2025 salary guarantee, fearing such an agreement would set a poor precedent for league-wide player negotiations.

“I’ve got more fire than ever, honestly, especially over the past two years of what I’ve gone through,” Wilson told the “I Am Athlete” podcast earlier this month. “Whether it’s in Denver or somewhere else, I hope it’s in Denver, I hope I get to finish there. I committed there, I wanted to be there. I want to be there.”

The Broncos won’t have cap space to pursue another veteran quarterback addition, but they could select a franchise passer in the draft. While Denver holds the No. 12 in the first round, it could trade up to land a QB it prefers.

“Finding the right solution to quarterback this league, which is obviously very competitive in our division, I think it’s vital,” Payton said Tuesday.

KEEP READING: Where Does Russell Wilson’s Deal Rank Among the NFL’s Worst Contracts?

“I saw this humorous meme the other day where there’s a Bronco fan with a shirt on, and there was like eight quarterbacks’ names with a cross through it.

” … Our job is to make sure that this next one doesn’t have a line through it.”

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