Russell Wilson says the Broncos asked him to change his contract mid-season and that if he did not, he would be benched. He did not, and on Friday, Denver head coach Sean Payton announced that the nine-time Pro Bowl selection would not start in the team’s final two games of the season.
Wilson said the team approached him during the bye week following the Oct. 29 win over the Kansas City Chiefs and told him that if he did not defer the trigger date for a guaranteed $37 million salary in 2025, he could face losing his starting job. According to NFL insider Dianna Russini, the team’s decision-makers hoped to move back the guaranteed date from March to later in the 2024 season to cut it without incurring any dead money charges in 2025.
If the Broncos were to cut Wilson in March, it would guarantee his 2025 salary regardless of whether he was on their roster, which could lead to a massive dead-money bill of $85 million in 2024 and 2025. Wilson said the decision to bench him was ” football-based, ” and he still hopes his career in Denver might not be over.
Despite a solid first half that included victories over Buffalo, Minnesota, and Cleveland, the Broncos have struggled lately, losing three of their last four games and falling out of the playoff hunt. Wilson believes the team’s struggles were tied to its inconsistent offense and an inability to get the ball downfield.
But he also pointed to the decision to bench him in favor of rookie Jarrett Stidham as proof that he and the coaching staff are working hard to build a successful team. Wilson said he was confident the team would be ready to play at its best next Sunday when it visited the Los Angeles Chargers.