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Russell Wilson Could Take League Minimum Contract

Russell Wilson might be willing to come to his next team on the veteran minimum with the contract implications in his contract.



Pittsburgh Steelers Russell Wilson
Denver Broncos quarterback Russell Wilson (3) before an NFL football game in Empower Field at Mile High Sunday, Dec. 31, 2023, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

Russell Wilson seems likely to be on the outs this offseason. Despite saying that he would like to return to the Denver Broncos on Sunday, it seems more likely than not that the Broncos will on from Wilson, allowing him to hit free agency. And his feelings on the I Am Athlete podcast detail a player with motivation to still keep going.

“I’ve got more fire now than ever, and for me, it’s all about winning,” Wilson said. “I just want to win. I hope it’s in Denver. I hope I get to finish there. I committed there. I wanted to be there. I want to be there. For me, it’s about winning. Over the next five years, I want to win two. I want to feel that trophy again. I love the city and everything else. But you also want to be in a place that wants you.”

But there are caveats to the entire Russell Wilson saga. For one, if he is released, he will receive his $39 million guaranteed from the Broncos, meaning he is in a unique position to take a lesser contract to help out his new team. And Jeremy Fowler of ESPN believes that is exactly what could end up happening if he is cut.

“Everybody I’ve talked to around the league expects the Denver Broncos at some point around the new league year in the next few weeks to rip the band-aid off and release Russell Wilson even though they owe him $39 million in guaranteed money,” Fowler said on SportsCenter on Sunday. “But they can start new, he can go sign somewhere else. The feeling is he’ll sign for considerably less, maybe even the league minimum, because he’s got all that money in hand guaranteed. And so, he’s going to have options. The feeling I get from talking to teams and scouts is that he’s still an NFL starter, there will be a job somewhere for him.”

Wilson was benched by the Broncos for the stretch run, after a contract dispute between him and the team over his contract guarantee for the 2025 season, and the Broncos are expected to release him this offseason.

Denver is just two seasons removed from trading for Wilson. The Broncos sent two first-round picks, two second-round picks, a fifth-round pick, quarterback Drew Lock, defensive lineman Shelby Harris and tight end Noah Fant to the Seahawks for Wilson on March 16, 2022.

A Super Bowl champion and nine-time Pro Bowler with the Seahawks, Wilson has struggled in Denver. He posted an 84.4 passer rating in 2022, which was by far the lowest mark of his career, and was sacked a league-high 55 times.

The Broncos fired head coach Nathaniel Hackett after just one season, trading more draft picks for former New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton this past offseason, and Wilson has been better with a 98 passer rating in 15 games this season.

But he didn’t prevent the Broncos from missing the playoffs and Wilson hasn’t come close to living up to his five-year, $243 million contract.

The Broncos will absorb a gigantic salary cap hit if they move on from Wilson, but they can minimize it if they release him with a post-June 1 designation. That would still deal them a $34 million dead cap charge over each the 2024 and 2025 seasons.