2-Time Super Bowl Champion Urged Broncos to Stick With Russell Wilson at QB

Getty Quarterback Russell Wilson #3 of the Denver Broncos

There’s widespread belief among NFL circles that the Denver Broncos will move on from Russell Wilson. But former running back LeSean McCoy said keeping the veteran quarterback was still the best scenario.

“Sean Payton, I’m telling you right now. … Please, bro, stick with Russ,” McCoy said during the February 27 episode of Fox Sports 1’s “Speak.” “He can get it done. You’ve seen the interview. You see the fire in his eyes?”

McCoy, a two-time Super Bowl champion who played 12 years, asked, “If we move on from Russ, who you gonna get?”

He floated the idea of the Broncos signing Kirk Cousins, who he said was a better player at this point.

But Cousins is coming off a season-ending Achilles injury and has a losing record playing in the spotlight.

“Cousins is 2-10 on Monday Night Football primetime games,” Pro Football Network’s Ryan Broyles wrote on October 23, 2023.

McCoy also mentioned the Broncos could draft a rookie quarterback while acknowledging there’s no guarantee that prospect will be successful in the pros.

Payton typically doesn’t give rookie quarterbacks extensive minutes, according to NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero.

“I believe the only time he’s done that in, what, 15, 16 years as a head coach was when everybody got COVID, and they had to roll out Ian Book for a game,” Pelissero said on the February 24 episode of “The Rich Eisen Show.”

Wilson told Brandon Marshall that he’d like to remain with the team that surrendered five draft picks and three players to get him in March 2022.

“Whether it’s in Denver or somewhere else. I hope it’s in Denver,” Wilson said on the February 26 episode of “I Am Athlete.” “You know, I hope I get to finish there. I committed there. I wanted to be there.”

Though he was benched for the last two games of the 2023 season, Wilson improved on his career-worst 2022 season, bumping his completion percentage from 60.5% to 66.4%, throwing more touchdowns (26, from 16) and fewer interceptions (8, from 11). Pro Football Focus noted these positive changes by improving Wilson’s overall grade from 66.2 in 2022 to 77.5 last season.

Broncos Pick Their Poison in Dealing with Russell Wilson’s Contract

GettyBroncos General Manager George Paton

After signing Wilson to a five-year, $242.5 million contract extension in 2022, the Broncos will be shouldering a heavy price tag regardless of their decision about what to do with him.

He will earn a guaranteed $37 million next season, regardless of his fate. But the situation gets tricky if the Broncos part ways with him. Cutting Wilson before June 1 would lead to a massive $85 million in dead money.

Conversely, releasing him after that date would allow Denver to split the tab over two seasons. The cap casualties for 2024 and 2025 vary if the team exercises its $22 million option for 2024.

“If Denver exercises the option bonus then designates him a Post June 1st release (before March 17th), they can push $17.6M of that cap into 2025, leading to a $35.4M dead hit in 2024, & a $49.6M hit in 2025,” Spotrac’s Michael Ginnitti wrote on February 22.

But delaying Wilson’s release during or after March 17 earns him a $37 million injury-guaranteed salary for 2025. The sum of money became a point of contention between him and the Broncos.

“I got that call that ‘Hey, we’re gonna bench you for the next nine games if, you know, you don’t change your injury guarantee,’” Wilson told with Marshall.

NFL Insider Believes Russell Wilson Could Remain in Denver for 2024

GettyNFL insider Tom Pelissero

Aside from pointing out Payton’s apprehension in playing rookie quarterbacks, Pelissero shared with Eisen that he sees a scenario wherein Wilson remains in a Broncos uniform for his 13th NFL season.

“Maybe, if everybody looks at the other side of the fence and doesn’t like what they see, the best scenario could be Russell Wilson back in a Denver uniform.”

While that possibility is on the table, Payton shared a timeline regarding their decision on Russell Wilson.

“There’s a couple factors here. Obviously, the cap projections came out, we’re further down the road with the draft class, obviously the pro free agents. So I would anticipate it being within the next two weeks,” the second-year Broncos head coach told reporters on February 27.

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