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Steelers to Sign QB Russell Wilson

The Pittsburgh Steelers are signing Russell Wilson after his visit to the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex.



Pittsburgh Steelers Free Agent Target Denver Broncos QB Russell Wilson
Denver Broncos quarterback Russell Wilson leaves the field after a loss to the Houston Texans in an NFL football game Sunday, Dec. 3, 2023, in Houston. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

According to various reports, the Pittsburgh Steelers are signing quarterback Russell Wilson. Wilson will join the team after visiting Pittsburgh on Friday, meaning that the deal is getting over the hump. It is a one-year deal, which will be a team-friendly move.

Wilson had a long meeting with the team, including Steelers offensive coordinator Arthur Smith on Friday when he visited the facility, according to Josina Anderson of CBS Sports. The deal will come in at just over $1 million.

The Steelers were able to meet with Wilson before the start of free agency because the Broncos gave him permission to talk to other teams after telling him that he will be released. Wilson has not had reported contact with any other team so far, though there is expected to be interest from other parties.

The Steelers were searching for competition for starting quarterback Kenny Pickett, and Wilson represented some of the strongest available competition on the open market. He could also came at a minuscule price. The Broncos gave Wilson a guaranteed $39 million in salary for the 2024 season, and any amount the Steelers or any other team would pay him would simply be removed from Denver’s commitments.

Statistically, Wilson had a rebound in 2023 after a rough season in 2022. Last year, Wilson started 15 games for the Broncos, completing 297 of 447 passes (66.4%) for 3,070 yards, 26 touchdowns and eight interceptions for a 98.0 passer rating and a 6.04 adjusted net yards per attempt. 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.

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 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. Wilson played better, but he did not appear to have a solid relationship with Payton, who has gone out of his way to criticize Wilson this offseason.

The Broncos absorbed a gigantic salary cap hit in order to move on from Wilson. They can minimize it if they release him with a post-June 1 designation, but that would still deal them a$85 million in dead cap charges over each the 2024 and 2025 seasons.