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Ex-Broncos CB Thinks This is a Make-or-Break Year for Russell Wilson



Russell Wilson Steelers Quarterback

Former Broncos cornerback Chris Harris Jr. didn’t cross paths with Russell Wilson as a teammate, but he’s well-aware of what went wrong during Wilson’s two-year tenure in the Mile-High City.

“I think there was a lot of plays out there that Russ missed, and Sean (Payton) had some great calls,” Harris told Dave Dameshek on the Minus Three Podcast. “Of course Sean, he had a couple bad days. It happens as a head coach. But I think he had the right schemes, he had the right plays to be able to get these guys open and to make plays. A lot of times, Russ held the ball a lot, causing extra sacks, killing drives, kinda missing a lot of big throws. It was definitely hard on Russ, also. Let me throw this out there, too. It’s hard to play when a team is coming after you over your contract in midseason. You’re the quarterback.”

Harris thinks the Steelers need to be in a spread and get the ball out quick for Russell Wilson to reach his utmost potential.

“On the field, I think Russ did do a great job in the red zone. Everything in between the red zones, that’s where they struggled. They struggled in the midfield. I think Russ is better suited in a spread offense where he can have guys four-wide, five-wide, empty, and be able to see and be able to make his throws. I think that’s what’s gonna best suit him in the Steelers’ offense because I don’t think he really truly fit the system Sean Payton wanted to run.”

Wilson was benched by Broncos head coach Sean Payton for the final two games of the season. The two never saw eye to eye, which set up Wilson’s departure after a dreadful two years in Denver. The Broncos will take on an $85 million hit in dead money on its salary cap over the next two seasons because of Wilson’s release. The Broncos are also paying Wilson nearly $38 million this year to play for the Steelers, who will only pay him just over $1 million on a veteran minimum contract.

The Steelers play the Broncos at Mile High this season, so Wilson will have a revenge game against his former team. Given the storylines, it wouldn’t be surprising if the game is in prime time.

Multiple sources told Alan Saunders of Steelers Now that by the end of Wilson’s tenure in Denver, the relationship with Broncos head coach Sean Payton had become toxic.

“You could see this is a make-or-break year for Russell Wilson,” Harris said. “For one, he has to keep (a) young talented quarterback on the bench. An you’re coming to a new team, new offense. You wanna show that you belong to be an NFL starter. He has to win it’s crucial for him for the rest of his career. This is a contract year for Russ. I’m pretty sure he wants some money.”

Wilson’s legacy certainly took a big hit in Denver. His play was not up to par with the hefty salary that Denver was dishing out, but his image was absolutely destroyed. Aditi Kinkhabwala of CBS Sports thinks Wilson is fully aware that Pittsburgh is his last chance to not only get his career back on track, but to restore his public perception.

“I do think that Russell Wilson recognizes this moment for what it is. I think he now recognizes, ‘Okay, it’s not just one [bad year], it’s two, and the second was with a guy that everybody recognizes as one of the best offensive minds,” Kinkhabwala said during an appearance on 93.7 The Fan. “There are certain things that need some tweaking, maybe on the field and also [in] the way that he creates rapport with his teammates. I believe that he is very cognizant of that, and I find that very hopeful.”

In conversations with several sources close to the Broncos and former teammates of Wilson’s, no one was willing to offer a cogent criticism of the behavior of the 35-year-old quarterback.

“All of that is overblown,” one Broncos source told Steelers Now. “He’s a great guy and great in the locker room.”

Another league source said that while the personalities between Payton and Wilson were “oil and water,” it was more of a bad fit between the two than any specific fault of one or the other. A player that had been a younger teammate of Wilson’s in Seattle credited his leadership and mentorship during his time there.


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May 9, 2024 11:38 am

This season isn’t about money for Wilson. Though if he proves his naysayers wrong he will make a lot of money. As for Payton he’s no doubt a very bright football mind and I won’t ding him or Wilson for having a communication breakdown. Tomlin is a completely different type of coach easily on the same level of Sean Payton while utilizing different skill sets. How Russell Wilson works with coach Tomlin will give us a much better understanding of the QB and man he is. Frankly I think things worked out great for all involved. Payton is an excellent… Read more »