Russell Wilson’s ride with the Denver Broncos may be over.
Multiple league sources confirmed Wednesday the Broncos will bench the quarterback for their final two games and start Jarrett Stidham. Denver (7-8) hosts the Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday and visits the Las Vegas Raiders in Week 18. Wilson will be the No. 2 quarterback, a team source said.
Wilson expects to be cut in March, per The Athletic’s Dianna Russini. That would be just two years after the Broncos traded two first-round picks, two second-round picks, three players and more to Seattle for the quarterback, a nine-time Pro Bowler with the Seahawks.
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Wilson has thrown for 3,070 yards with 26 touchdowns and eight interceptions this season, his first under head coach Sean Payton, but his contract is an issue. Wilson is guaranteed $39 million for 2024. He has $37 million in injury guarantees that become fully guaranteed if he is still on the roster on the fifth day of the 2024 league year that begins in March.
So what does this mean for Wilson in 2024? If the Broncos do cut him, who might have a need and interest? We identified four teams — the Raiders, Minnesota Vikings, New England Patriots and Washington Commanders — that could potentially be in the mix for Wilson, who turned 35 last month and is about to finish his 12th season in the NFL.
The Athletic’s beat writers for those teams weighed in on why Wilson might be a fit, and why he might not.
Las Vegas Raiders
Why Wilson might be a fit: The only way this would make any sense for the Raiders is if Wilson is released. They have to find a way to move on from their own expensive backup quarterback — Jimmy Garoppolo — this offseason, they will incur a sizable dead money hit as a result and won’t have any interest in taking on Wilson’s salary. With that being said, Wilson has been solid this year: He’s 10th in completion percentage, 16th in passing yards, tied for sixth in passing touchdowns and has thrown just eight interceptions in 15 games. He’s no longer a Pro Bowl-level player, but he’s still a starting-caliber quarterback. If he’s willing to sign for cheap and the Raiders aren’t able to draft their quarterback of the future, perhaps signing him to compete with Aidan O’Connell for the starting job could make sense.
Why he might not: The Raiders really, really, really need to draft their quarterback of the future this offseason. After moving on from Derek Carr and soon doing the same with Garoppolo, they need to get off the aging veteran quarterback treadmill and reset their timeline. O’Connell has done an OK job since taking over for Garoppolo considering the circumstances, but he doesn’t look like he should be the long-term option. The best path for the Raiders to find that player is through the draft, not adding a declining veteran quarterback. — Tashan Reed, Raiders beat writer
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Why Wilson might be a fit: This feels like a Hail Mary of sorts, which, considering Wilson is the subject, seems fitting. The Vikings’ quarterback plans for 2024 are uncertain, as Kirk Cousins’ contract voids at the conclusion of the season and he is likely to have many suitors. If Cousins signs elsewhere, the Vikings could go after a high-end talent in the draft. In that situation, they’d likely sign a bridge quarterback to allow that youngster to develop. If he’s released, Wilson fits in that category alongside other mid- to lower-tier options.
Why he might not: Cousins returning would immediately end this discussion. But even if he departs, it’s fair to wonder whether Wilson’s asking price would make sense. Garoppolo, for example, signed a three-year, $72.5 million contract with the Raiders in March. Wilson is older, but he’s also more accomplished. Say he wanted a two-year, $40 million deal. The Vikings, who would likely draft a QB in Cousins’ absence, would not be likely to pay that kind of money to a short-term answer. Furthermore, Vikings coach Kevin O’Connell values accuracy over the middle of the field and big-field vision in his QBs. Though Wilson has produced statistically this season, those qualities are in question, which is why the Broncos benched him in the first place. — Alec Lewis, Vikings beat writer
New England Patriots
Why Wilson might be a fit: The short answer is that the Patriots need a quarterback in 2024 after the end of the Mac Jones era. It’s not clear yet who will be making the key decisions for the team this offseason, but Bill Belichick praised Wilson before their matchup last weekend, won by the Patriots. If Belichick is still around, he could be interested in a quick-fix plan rather than a rebuild, potentially making Wilson an option in New England.
Why he might not: If the Patriots end up with a top-two pick, there would be a lot of reasons to take advantage of that and have a quarterback on a rookie contract. It’s also worth noting that Wilson is 35 and may not fit the Patriots’ hopes of finding a long-term quarterback this offseason, especially if Belichick isn’t making the decisions going forward. — Chad Graff, Patriots beat writer
Why Wilson might be a fit: Jacoby Brissett on Sunday will become Washington’s 36th starting quarterback since 1993. That sad tale means all options must be considered. For the right price — meaning salary; can’t see Washington trading picks — Wilson could be viewed as a viable option should the franchise seek a quick turnaround and a marquee player.
Why he might not: Further proof that time is a flat circle: Coach Ron Rivera made a push to trade for Wilson in 2022, but Wilson had zero interest in joining the Commanders’ circus under owner Dan Snyder. Now with Snyder out — and Rivera likely exiting after this season — would Russ want to cook in the nation’s capital? Even if he did, the Commanders are unlikely to have interest. New decision-makers will determine the depths of any rebuild, but it’s evident Washington’s holes go beyond quarterback. If the Commanders maintain the No. 3 pick in the draft, they could potentially select a highly touted prospect. Brissett, a 2024 free agent, makes for a cleaner veteran to pair with a draft pick or Sam Howell. — Ben Standig
(Photo: Justin Edmonds / Getty Images)
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