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Russell Wilson on His Way to Pittsburgh to Meet with Steelers

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Pittsburgh Steelers FA QB Target Russell Wilson
Denver Broncos quarterback Russell Wilson arrives before an NFL football game against the Buffalo Bills, Monday, Nov. 13, 2023, in Orchard Park, N.Y. (AP Photo/Jeffrey T. Barnes)

Free agent quarterback Russell Wilson is on his way to Pittsburgh to meet with the Steelers, according to a report by Ian Rapoport of NFL Network.

It was first reported on Thursday that Wilson is expected to meet with the Steelers before the official start of the free agent contact period on Monday. Now it seems that meeting is taking place today, as Wilson was spotted at an airport in Newark, New Jersey on his way to Pittsburgh.

Rapoport relayed through a source that Wilson was spotted at the Newark Airport, taking photos with fans, on his way to Pittsburgh to meet with the Steelers’ top brass.

The Steelers are 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 are searching for competition for starting quarterback Kenny Pickett, and Wilson represents some of the strongest available competition on the open market. He could also come at a minuscule price, at least for 2024. 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.

The sticking point in negotiations may come down to what happens in 2025 and beyond. Wilson will turn 36 during the 2024 season, and it’s uncertain if the Steelers will want to make a more-than-one-year commitment to the veteran passer.

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.