Russell Wilson Sends Strong Message About Joining Steelers After Broncos Tenure

Russell Wilson, Denver Broncos

Getty Russell Wilson #3 of the Pittsburgh Steelers.

The Denver Broncos cut Russell Wilson this offseason. But the nine-time Pro Bowler is still a factor in the organization’s plans. He leaves an $85 million dead cap hit in his wake. He was on the books for five years and $242-plus million to begin the offseason.

Wilson will earn $1.2 million on a one-year pact with the Pittsburgh Steelers while counting $53 million against the Broncos’ salary cap in 2024.

He spoke candidly about his newfound situation, particularly after two rough years in Denver.

“I feel the fountain of youth. I feel revived in every way. Mentally, emotionally, spiritually – I feel confident,” Wilson told reporters on June 11. “At some point, you have to know who you are as a player, as a man, as a competitor. As somebody who’s been fortunate to be able to play this game, I don’t doubt it; I trust it. I felt really good last year playing; I felt really confident in the midst of everything.

“Right now I have all that confidence times 10. So I just use it all. Just use it all. You just trust it. You take one day at a time and you just put in the work. And I just think that that’s the part that I love. There’s nothing like doing the work; there’s no substitute. There’s no substitute for the hard work, and that’s the part that I love.”

Wilson’s stats last season – 66.4% completion, 3,070 yards, 26 touchdowns, and eight interceptions – belied the rift between him and Broncos head coach Sean Payton. A rift that even spilled onto the Broncos’ sidelines.

Payton benched Wilson. That led to a firestorm of speculation. The veteran quarterback also filed a grievance against the organization, per NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport in December 2023.

Wilson touted new head coach Mike Tomlin’s ability to “communicate” and “inspire” the team.

Russell Wilson: Mike Tomlin ‘One of the Greatest Motivators’

Mike Tomlin, Denver Broncos

GettyHead coach Mike Tomlin of the Pittsburgh Steelers.

“He’s one of the greatest motivators I’ve ever been around,” Wilson said about Tomlin. “I think his ability to communicate, his ability to inspire individuals every day – no matter if you’re a rookie, no matter if you’re a undrafted free agent, no matter if you’re a 13-year vet like myself – the lessons and the things he’s taught me along the way just about life, about ball.

Wilson also touted Tomlin’s “understanding of the game,” noting the head coach showcases it in all facets.

“He stops in a particular moments on the field and displays not only his passion but his ability to communicate certain moments and why they’re so significant and important throughout a season, throughout a game.

“That’s why he’s a Hall of Fame coach.”

Wilson – who sent a heartfelt message to Broncos Country on social media after his release – called the opportunity to play under Tomlin and for the Steelers a “blessing in itself.”

Wilson’s goodbye message was notably missing thanks for the organization or his coaches. But he did name wide receiver Courtland Sutton. Sutton, who reacted negatively to Wilson’s departure, addressed the trade in depth for the first time in a recent interview.

Courtland Sutton Opens Up About Broncos Cutting Russell Wilson

Russell Wilson, Courtland Sutton, Denver Broncos

GettyRussell Wilson #3 and Courtland Sutton #14 of the Denver Broncos.

“It was a tough pill to swallow,” Sutton said on the “DNVR Denver Broncos Podcast” on June 6. “You see the writing on the wall, you hear the the murmurs, you know that at the end of the season and going into the beginning part of the offseason that certain things are going to happen and you know in the back of your mind – you hope that they don’t happen. But … you know at the end of the day they’re going to always say business is business.

“There’s no hard feelings. They’re going – I think we all know that that day comes where they come knock on the door, or knock on your locker and they want to have that conversation with you. And they’re going to tell you how much they appreciate what you brought to the table. But it’s business as usual and they have to make a business decision.”

Sutton said he was “happy” for Wilson. He said the speed with which Wilson found a new home is a sign of the “caliber” of player he is.

He “boldly” predicted success for Wilson as he builds on his “Hall of Fame legacy” in Pittsburgh.

“I think that he gets a bad rap from just a few different things that transpired and didn’t go the way that we wanted them to go,” Sutton said. “We all wanted to see Russ come here and lead us to the postseason and lead us to the Super Bowl and go win a Super Bowl.”

Sutton said they all fell short of that goal, not just Wilson. He also joked that while he wishes Wilson success, he hopes his “magic” doesn’t show up when the two teams meet in Week 2.