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Russell Wilson Will Look for Revenge Against Broncos at Mile High in 2024



Pittsburgh Steelers Free Agent Target QB Russell Wilson

With Russell Wilson announcing late Sunday night that he’s agreed to terms with the Pittsburgh Steelers, it sets up a revenge game for the nine-time Pro Bowler and one-time Super Bowl champion. That’s right, Wilson is set to face his former team the Denver Broncos at Mile High this season. The Steelers have the AFC West on their schedule in 2024.

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.

So, yeah, a lot of a intriguing headlines. It wouldn’t be surprising if the NFL put the Steelers-Broncos game in primetime. The schedule will be released in May.

There’s a lot of bad blood between Wilson and Payton, for sure. One veteran AFC personnel executive even told Jeremy Fowler of ESPN that Payton never liked Wilson from Day 1.

“Sean never liked him as the guy from Day 1 and went out of his way to make that known,” the source said.

Payton ripped into Wilson on the sideline during a game in Detroit this past season. It seemed more personal than a coach just letting a player have it.

There was also a report by The Athletic that members of Denver’s coaching staff believed that Wilson having his own office in the team facility, on the second floor where the Broncos’ coaches and executives have their offices, was bad for the the camaraderie of the team.

One coach said Wilson told teammates the door to his office was always open to them, but that coach wondered why a player had an office with a door at all.

“So, are you a coach or are you a player?” the coach asked. “Your open door should be you sitting at your locker.”

Another coach said having the office on the second floor separated Wilson from the players.

“The players were always on the first floor; they never really came up to the second floor,” the coach said. “If you came up to the second floor as a player, it honestly wasn’t a good thing because you were probably getting released.”

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.

But was all of that the fault of Wilson, or was he just a part of a few bad situations. 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.

Wilson, who will turn 36 in November, is out to prove that he still has a lot left in the tank. He’ll also want to get revenge on his former team and coach in Denver this season that publicly embarrassed him.

“Over the next two years, I want to win two [Super Bowls], I want to feel the chill of that trophy again,” Wilson told former Broncos wide receiver Brandon Marshall on the I Am Athlete podcast. “I love the city [of Denver] and everything else, but you also want to be [in] a place that wants you too. The thing I want to do is to win; that’s all I care about.”