Five landing spots for Russell Wilson as the Broncos move on at QB

By | February 27, 2024

Russell Wilson said Sunday that he would like to end his career with the Denver Broncos.

Whether he means it or not, the decision is not his.

The reality is that there is a very real chance that Wilson will no longer play in Denver and will suit up for another team next season. The decision ultimately rests with a Broncos team that benched him amid mediocre play last season, a move that came with contract implications — most notably avoiding a $37 million injury guarantee for 2025 if he doesn’t advance in March a physical competition was coming.

Broncos have to pay Wilson no matter what

Healthy or not, that $37 million will be guaranteed if Wilson remains on the roster before the March 17 deadline, meaning the Broncos have a major decision to make in the coming weeks. They’re looking for big money and a big hit anyway, so there’s little incentive to keep him unless they want him for football reasons.

According to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, Wilson’s parting ways will result in an $85 million cap hit that could be spread over two seasons, depending on how it is allocated. Either way, they owe him the $39 million he’s guaranteed this season. Keeping him would mean a cap hit of about $90 million over two seasons. And the Broncos would owe the $37 million guarantee through 2025.

Russell Wilson could be acquired at a discount if the Broncos move.  If so, where could he land?

Russell Wilson could be acquired at a discount if the Broncos move. If so, where could he land? (Perry Knotts/Getty Images)

Wilson could be available at a discount

Thanks to the compensatory language in his contract, the Broncos will be on the hook for that cap hit and his salary guarantee for 2024, meaning Wilson could be acquired by another team for as little as the league minimum, regardless of whether he acquires via trade or release and free agency has been acquired. . Thanks to a no-trade clause in his contract, Wilson has the final say on where he would land outside of Denver.

So where could Wilson play in the event the Broncos move on? Here are five teams that could be interested in signing Wilson on the cheap.

After keeping Kenny Pickett on the bench in the playoffs, Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin said in January that he wants competition for his third-year quarterback. Mitchell Trubisky has been released and Mason Rudolph is about to be released, meaning the Steelers will have to look elsewhere.

The Steelers are reportedly interested in pursuing Ryan Tannehill, who is heading to free agency after five seasons with the Tennessee Titans. Wilson on a cheap contract could also be an attractive option.

Ultimately, the Steelers would prefer Pickett come out of the league he is in after taking him in the first round. But that’s no guarantee given his lukewarm first two NFL seasons. Could Wilson revive his career with a stable franchise and a roster built to compete now?

After seven appearances for Las Vegas, the Jimmy Garoppolo experiment is over. With Antonio Pierce entering his first offseason as head coach, the Raiders are widely expected to release Garoppolo before an $11.25 million roster bonus kicks in, meaning they’ll be looking for a quarterback.

Aidan O’Connell remains in the mix after showing promise in 10 starts as a rookie. The Raiders also have the 13th pick in the draft, which they could use to roll the dice on a quarterback not named Caleb Williams, Drake Maye or Jayden Daniels. Either way, the addition of a veteran in Wilson who has been to multiple Pro Bowls and won a Super Bowl could be attractive. Knowing the inner workings of the division rival Broncos is an added bonus.

After 13 starts yielded 12 touchdowns, 12 interceptions and few successful downfield plays in 2023, Desmond Ridder’s time as Atlanta’s starter appears to be over. He was benched twice in favor of Taylor Heinicke before starting the season finale against the New Orleans Saints.

The Falcons are looking for an upgrade that can maximize the potential of power weapons Kyle Pitts, Drake London and Bijan Robinson. Is Wilson that guy? His last two seasons suggest he isn’t. But he could be worth a low-risk roll of the dice if the Falcons don’t make a move for a player like Justin Fields if Fields becomes available. Wilson could also act as a bridge if the Falcons prioritize a quarterback in the first round of the draft, where they will pick No. 8.

The Vikings would likely prefer to move on from Kirk Cousins. But that’s no guarantee. Cousins ​​plans to become an unrestricted free agent in the truest sense of the word. He is not eligible for the franchise tag. And he could charge more than the Vikings are willing to pay for a 35-year-old nursing an Achilles tendon injury.

In that case, the Vikings will be in desperate need of a replacement for Cousins, who did not appear during his injury absence last season. It will be an attractive position for whoever takes the job, with two of the league’s best young receivers in Justin Jefferson and Jordan Addison at his disposal. There are far worse places for Wilson to land.

The Mac Jones era is over after he was repeatedly benched in favor of Bailey Zappe last season. The Patriots are in position to draft his replacement at No. 3 with Jerod Mayo taking over as coach from Bill Belichick.

That pick could very well be used to select electric LSU quarterback Jayden Daniels, assuming Williams and Maye come off the board first. Recent NFL history makes a strong case for letting young quarterbacks learn the ropes from the bench. See Patrick Mahomes and Jordan Love.

In that case, Wilson could emerge as an attractive bridge in New England as a mentor with Super Bowl experience. Wilson could also be targeted if New England chooses to draft an elite position player such as Ohio State receiver Marvin Harrison Jr.

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