What Russell Wilson said about his situation in Denver on podcast

Feb 27, 2024, 12:02 PM

Russell Wilson...

Russell Wilson of the Denver Broncos looks on prior to a game on Dec. 31, 2023. (Dustin Bradford/Getty Images)

(Dustin Bradford/Getty Images)

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) — With his head coach and general manager set to address reporters — and likely his employment situation — at the NFL scouting combine on Tuesday, Russell Wilson reiterated over the weekend that he hopes to return to the Denver Broncos in 2024.

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Wilson said he still aims to win a pair of Super Bowls in the next half decade.

“So yeah, I want to go back to Denver. I hope I get to go back. I’d love to go back, to be honest with you. I’ve got amazing teammates,” Wilson said on former NFL receiver Brandon Marshall’s “I Am Athlete” podcast that went live Sunday night.

Wilson also repeated to Marshall, his former teammate with the Seattle Seahawks, his contention that the Broncos threatened to bench him at midseason if he didn’t adjust an injury guarantee in his contract, something the team has called a mischaracterization.

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Wilson declined to remove the injury guarantee from the approximately $245 million contract he’d signed about a year earlier and ended up starting seven more games before coach Sean Payton benched him for Jarrett Stidham the final two games.

If the Broncos are going to move on from Wilson after two mostly disappointing seasons, they’ll have to do so before March 17, when his $37 million base salary for 2025 becomes fully guaranteed.

The Broncos owe Wilson $39 million in salary this upcoming season whether or not he’s on their team. If they part ways, they’ll also have to take an $85 million dead cap hit, more than doubling the record $40-plus million the Falcons incurred in dead cap charges following QB Matt Ryan’s departure from Atlanta last year.

Despite benching Wilson after he threw for 26 touchdowns and eight interceptions in a bounce-back 2023 season, the Broncos have said a costly divorce isn’t necessarily imminent. Payton said in several appearances on radio row at the Super Bowl in Las Vegas that no decision had been made on the quarterback’s status and that Wilson’s return was one possibility.

Wilson said he could play for Payton again and that he hadn’t pondered other possible destinations because he’s still a Bronco. At one point in the nearly 90-minute podcast, Marshall joked with Wilson about where he’d live if he stayed in Denver given a recent report that Wilson and his wife, Ciara, are showing their $25 million Cherry Hills mansion to potential buyers.

“It’s not on the market right now,” Wilson said.

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However, a split is possible between Wilson and the Broncos, who went 8-9 last season and extended their playoff drought to eight seasons. Only the New York Jets, who last reached the postseason in 2010, have a longer playoff drought than Denver.

“People think I’m out of there. Maybe I am, but no matter what, I’d love to go back. … I want to win more Super Bowls there. I love the city and everything else,” Wilson said in his first public comments since December. “But you also want to be at a place that wants you, too.”

During the podcast, Wilson revisited the bye week conversations between his agent, Mark Rodgers, general manager George Paton and vice president of football administration Rich Hurtado about removing the injury guarantee from his contract.

“I didn’t want to set a precedent for players to remove their injury guarantees,” Wilson told Marshall. “… No way I was going to do that.”

Wilson recounted that he didn’t know if he was still the starter when he returned to Broncos headquarters after the bye week.

“I get back on Monday, I still don’t know necessarily what’s going to happen, and on that Monday that’s when I meet with Sean,” Wilson said. “And Sean said, ’Hey, treat it like nothing happened. You’re going to play this week, we’ve got a big game this week against Buffalo. We’ve got to go win on ‘Monday Night Football.’”

Wilson started seven more games before he was benched for Stidham, who went 1-1 in a pair of middling performances that only threw more uncertainty into the team’s quarterback room.

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