Broncos’ Russell Wilson Urged to Join AFC Rival: ‘Winning Formula’

Russell Wilson, Denver Broncos

Getty Quarterback Russell Wilson #3 of the Denver Broncos.

Denver Broncos quarterback Russell Wilson appears headed for his release this offseason. Former NFL quarterback-turned-CBS analyst Brady Quinn thinks he needs to stay in the AFC with one team in particular if he does.

Wilson’s future is one of the storylines that will define this offseason. He is in the first year of a five-year, $242.6 million contract. But last season put a strain on his relationship with Head Coach Sean Payton. Many now view Wilson’s release as a virtual certainty.

That means an $85 million cap hit, which the Broncos can spread over two seasons.

Quinn likes the Pittsburgh Steelers as a potential landing spot for Wilson. That is thanks largely to Head Coach Mike Tomlin.

“If I’m Russell Wilson, I’m like dude put me on that team,” Quinn said on the “Pick Six Podcast” on February 14. “They’ve got weapons on the outside, the offensive line’s improved, they have a good defense. And I think you put him in there with Mike Tomlin – who’s been a winner his entire career as a head coach – it’s a winning formula for you if you’re looking to revamp your career.”

Kenny Pickett is the only quarterback currently under contract next season for the Steelers.

Tomlin suggested that Pickett will compete for the starting job next season. But Quinn points to Tomlin benching the former first-round pick for the final two weeks of the season as a potential opportunity for Wilson.

Steelers Could Wait Out Broncos’ Decision on Russell Wilson

Mike Tomlin, Denver Broncos

GettyHead coach Mike Tomlin of the Pittsburgh Steelers.

“Russell Wilson’s cap hit … it’s not that punitive if we’re looking at starting quarterback standards in the NFL, comparatively speaking,” Quinn said, arguing in favor of a trade. “Russell Wilson has won a Super Bowl, he’s been to two, he’s played some really good football in his career, and played pretty well last year.

“The contract, yeah, again it’s a lot of money. But that’s also an organization that doesn’t necessarily delve out big signing bonuses. So maybe they’d be willing to work with the structure of the contract and kind of extend it out or restructure however they see fit to make it work.”

Wilson rebuffed the Broncos’ attempts to restructure his contract this past season,

Payton ultimately benched Wilson for the final two games of the season. That subsequently resulted in Wilson threatening legal action with the NFLPA alleging impropriety by the Broncos.

Denver wanted to keep Wilson, per NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero on the “DNVR Broncos Podcast” on February 7. NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport wrote on February 11 that the Broncos are leaving every option on the table, including Wilson’s return next season.

Both insiders said that is unlikely though.

For the Steelers, it might be more prudent to wait out the Broncos. Peliserro speculated Denver would make their decision by the March 17 vesting date for Wilson’s $37 million salary in 2025.

Falcons Another Popular Landing Spot for Broncos Russell Wilson

Raheem Morris, Denver Broncos

GettyHead Coach Raheem Morris of the Atlanta Falcons.

Atlanta [Falcons] is another team, obviously, that needs a quarterback this offseason,” Quinn said. “Could make some sense.”

Rumors linked Wilson to the Falcons most often before the Steelers emerged as a potential destination. The Falcons have a need at the position under new head coach Raheem Morris and Wilson has family ties to the area via his wife, Ciara.

Whatever happens, it sounds like Wilson should have his fair share of options if he is indeed cut.