This union between Russell Wilson and the Denver Broncos has not been good. It has quite the opposite, been very bad. The proof is in the pudding, or in this case, in the Broncos’ win-loss record. The Broncos currently have a dismal 4-11 record, which is better than just one team in the AFC, the hapless Houston Texans. If that’s not enough of an indictment on the Wilson era in the peaks of Colorado, then we do not know what is.
Remember also that this team just got embarrassed by Baker Mayfield and the Los Angeles Rams, 51-14, in Week 16. That’s the highest number of points the Broncos have surrendered this season. If we’re being honest, though, it’s not that surprising they played so poorly.
Why? Well, Denver has played so poorly all season that losing by 37 points to the defending champs (who are no title contenders themselves) just feels like par for the course.
Russell Wilson’s poor performance contributed to the Rams’ quick 17-0 lead, as he threw interceptions on the first two Broncos possessions. In the third quarter, he added a third interception. He was also sacked a total of six times in this game. Despite Wilson throwing a touchdown to Jerry Jeudy in the fourth quarter, Wilson was removed from the game in favor of backup Brett Rypien. Wilson’s mistakes and sacks caused a lot of frustration on the sideline, especially during the second half of the game.
What’s the main reason for Denver’s woes throughout the season? Frankly speaking, a lot of the accountability falls on Wilson. Yes, he’s a Super Bowl champion, a Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year, an All-Pro, and a nine-time Pro Bowler. None of that mattered this season. The Broncos surely paid for THAT player. Recall that they signed Wilson to a five-year, $245 million contract extension in September. However, they got a shell of the “old Wilson.”
After throwing one (1) passing touchdown and getting completely outclassed by a quarterback who was cut this season, Russell Wilson has TIED the bathrooms!
As momentous as this occasion is, the Bathroom-O-Meter™️ sweat continues until he surpasses that 12 bathroom benchmark. pic.twitter.com/CQTurL5apc
— Kent Weyrauch (@KentWeyrauch) December 26, 2022
Instead of an MVP-caliber QB who would carry the team into the playoffs, Denver got a QB with an 82.6 passer rating and just 13 touchdowns for the season so far. That’s the lowest total of his entire career. He also has just four touchdowns more than interceptions this season, which of course, is a very bad sign.
So one big question is this — the Broncos aren’t actually going to jettison Russell Wilson just one year after his blockbuster trade, are they?
Keep in mind that Wilson’s current deal included $161 million guaranteed. As we’ve already detailed, this contract quickly is shaping up to be the worst contract in terms of return on investment.
As much as Denver might prefer to move on in the offseason, doing so would require lighting a significant amount of money on fire. If Denver does cut, release, or trade Wilson, the salary-cap implications would be extremely significant.
The Broncos can release Russell Wilson before June 1 of 2023. In that case, they would absorb $107 million in dead cap space and minus-$85 million in cap savings. They can also trade him before June 1. In that scenario, the Broncos would absorb $82 million in dead space and minus-$60 million in cap savings.
Should Denver decide to wait a bit, though, they might end up in a better financial position. They can release Wilson after June 1. As such, they absorb dead cap hits totaling $107 million in 2023 and 2024 along with cap savings of minus-$17 million. Denver can also find a trade partner for Wilson after June 1. In that case, their total dead cap space would be $82 million over two years, and have $8 million in cap savings.
It seems the most ideal direction is to keep Wilson up until June 1 and trade him afterward. That would be much easier said than done, though. We certainly do not expect any NFL GM scrambling for Wilson’s aging arm and skill set.
Keep in mind as well that Denver just fired erstwhile head coach Nathaniel Hackett on Monday. This means that the Broncos are searching for a new guy to steer the ship. However, whoever takes over the team faces a problem with Russell Wilson. His poor performance and expensive contract may even deter potential coaching candidates from joining the organization.
We have parted ways with Head Coach Nathaniel Hackett.
A statement from Broncos Owner & CEO Greg Penner: pic.twitter.com/1tWMjHv6em
— Denver Broncos (@Broncos) December 26, 2022
While firing Hackett may have been necessary, it could also signal the team’s intention to move on from Wilson. Of course, it is entirely possible that Wilson could improve with a new head coach and offensive staff in 2023. Additionally, keeping him for the next two seasons may be preferable to the financial repercussions of releasing or trading him now. However, the earliest and most practical time for the Broncos to part ways with Wilson is in 2024. Take note that even then, it will come with significant financial consequences in the form of dead-cap money.
One guy who’s probably not feeling too bad is Wilson’s former coach, Pete Carroll. The Wilson era in Denver has shown the exceptional skills of Carroll. That is in terms of managing the Seattle locker room when Wilson was still there. Despite rumors of Wilson receiving special treatment from Carroll, nobody can deny the results of that relationship. Now, Wilson’s behavior and demeanor have been more noticeable that he is the face of a struggling team and is no longer in Seattle.
If money weren’t an issue, the decision to part ways with Wilson would have been pretty easy to make. As things stand, however, money is a big part of this issue, and that’s mainly why the Broncos will likely if begrudgingly, be tied to Wilson’s fortunes for at least one more season.
View more on Youtube What is going on with Russell Wilson and the Denver Broncos? | Get up
The Get Up crew break down the changes that should be made concerning Russell Wilson and the Denver Broncos’ organization.
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