CBS Sports projects that the Pittsburgh Steelers will be the team to sign quarterback Russell Wilson after he’s released by the Denver Broncos.
Breaking down the quarterback free agent market, Cody Benjamin of CBS Sports projected on Thursday that Wilson will sign with the Steelers on a three-year, $90 million deal after his releaser by Denver.
“At 35, it’s clear Wilson is no longer the elite dual threat he once was,” Benjamin wrote. “But his downfield touch returned at points in 2023, and he should have a decent market after his inevitable release, especially with Denver already paying his 2024 salary.”
Wilson has been 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. Right now, that salary is guaranteed in case of injury, and the Broncos do not want to continue to play Wilson and risk an injury that might lock them into the veteran quarterback for two more years.
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 hasn’t prevented the Broncos from being eliminated from 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.
It’s even worse if the Broncos try to trade Wilson before June 1, so a release seems most likely, which could set him up to come to the Steelers in free agency.
The Steelers have been listed among the betting favorites to land Wilson, though they are not at the top. The Minnesota Vikings have been listed as the most likely team to sign Wilson on the gambling boards.