Broncos Make $22 Million Decision on QB Zach Wilson: Report

Zach Wilson, Denver Broncos

Getty Zach Wilson #2 of the New York Jets.

The Denver Broncos‘  selection of Bo Nix with the No. 12 overall pick of the 2024 draft gives them hope for the future. It also puts pressure on incumbent Jarrett Stidham and newcomer Zach Wilson in the interim.

For Wilson, there is a bit of an added incentive as ESPN’s Jeff Legwold explained.

“The Denver Broncos have been busy since they acquired quarterback Zach Wilson in a trade last week to beef up their impending competition for the starting job,” Legwold wrote on May 1.

“Thursday, they selected Oregon quarterback Bo Nix in the first round of the NFL draft (12th overall), and sources said the Broncos have informed Wilson and his representatives that they will not pick up the fifth-year option in Wilson’s contract. As the No. 2 pick of the 2021 draft by the New York Jets, Wilson’s rookie deal included a fifth-year option for the 2025 season.”

Wilson would have made $22.4 million in 2025 had the Broncos picked up the former No. 2 overall pick’s option.

Instead, Wilson will play out his four-year, $35.1 million contract this season for the Broncos.

Broncos Decline Zach Wilson’s $22 Million 5th-Year Option

Zach Wilson, Denver Broncos

GettyZach Wilson #2 of the New York Jets.

The Broncos got out in front of the decision on Wilson, albeit only slightly. They had until May 2 to finalize their decision. This does clarify things for everyone involved, most importantly Wilson, well in advance of when it may actually matter.

“It puts Wilson in a position to try to make the most of the 2024 season with the Broncos before he hits free agency in March,” Legwold wrote. “The Broncos represent a potential fresh start for Wilson, who had a 57% completion rate and threw 25 interceptions to go with 23 touchdown passes in his three seasons with the Jets.”

Denver exercised the fifth-year option on Wilson’s classmate, Pat Surtain II, last week. That $19.8 million commitment was warranted for Surtain.

He is a Pro Bowler and one of the few proven commodities on the Broncos roster.

In a similar move, the Broncos guaranteed $2 million of wide receiver Courtland Sutton’s 2024 salary. Sutton is in Year 3 of his four-year, $60.8 million pact. His future remains subject to speculation amid his holdout though.

Wilson is unproven. He is on his second team since being drafted in 2021 and has received no such assurances from the Broncos.

Head Coach Sean Payton is willing to let things play out as they may.

Sean Payton Honest About Broncos QB Battle

Davis Webb, Sean Payton, Denver Broncos

GettyDenver Broncos head coach Sean Payton.

“These guys are all going to compete,” Payton told reporters on April 26. “We were real happy to bring Zach on board, and there was no specific timing. That just took a little bit of time. In other words, [Broncos general manager George Paton] and [Jets GM Joe Douglas], they’ve been working on that.

“It wasn’t um wasn’t like a smoke screen. I know when we signed him it was closer to the draft. But it could have very well been three weeks ago. We knew we wanted to add to the room and I think I said that much even at the owner meetings.

“We felt we really like that opportunity. There were a number of veteran backups that signed contracts, and yet we saw talent with a player who just three years ago was the number two pick in the draft, and we really like his traits. And, of course, we have Jared here – Stidham – and Ben [DiNucci]. And so Bill [Parcells] taught me a long time ago, … let’s let them play and we got to maximize the reps that we have and let them develop, and that stuff will sort itself out.”

Nix figures to have an initial leg up. He is this regime’s pick to be the quarterback of the future. And Stidham has a year in this system under his belt.

Wilson could still have ample opportunities to prove he is the Broncos’ best QB in training camp.