Raiders Listed Among Favorites to Land Controversial $242 Million QB

Russell Wilson, potential Raiders quarterback in 2024

Getty Russell Wilson, potential Raiders quarterback in 2024

The Raiders just went through a season in which they started off with an aging, past-his-prime and controversial quarterback—Jimmy Garoppolo—and it took them only eight weeks to regret the whole thing and sit Garoppolo on the bench. It might be daft to go out and try that same method all over again, but still, the Raiders quarterback job has been continually linked to 35-year-old Broncos flameout Russell Wilson.

And you can even lay some money on the possibility of Wilson landing in Las Vegas. At Draft Kings, the Raiders are the No. 2 favorite to land Wilson this offseason, getting odds of plus-250. The Falcons are the top favorite to wind up with Wilson, at plus-130, while a return to Denver—which sounds pretty well impossible considering the way the year unfolded for the Broncos—comes in at plus-250 as well.

The Raiders must at least have some interest in Wilson depending on how things shake out with his contract. The Broncos let Wilson know, he claimed, during the season that they were going to release him to minimize the financial hit on his monster contract going forward. That would make him a purely unrestricted free agent, and put the Raiders in position to sign him on the cheap.

Russell Wilson Was a Disaster With the Broncos

Wilson had a disastrous tenure in two seasons with Denver, which paid out a $242 million extension for him in addition to trading players (including quarterback Drew Lock), two first-round picks and two second-round picks to Seattle.

He went 4-11 in 15 starts with the team last year, and got off to a rocky start with new coach Sean Payton, who did not appear to be a Wilson fan from the moment he was hired in Denver before last year. Still, Wilson’s numbers this year (204.7 yards per game, 26 touchdowns, eight interceptions, 7-8 record) were not bad. He was benched to close out the year so that Denver could avoid certain contract guarantees that would have been triggered had he played.

The Broncos are looking at paying Wilson $39 million next season, essentially to play elsewhere.

The question for the Raiders or any team considering signing Wilson is whether the poor play in Denver was the sign of a quarterback who has been caught by age and is not going to get any better, or whether the problem with the Broncos was more a matter of a poor roster around him.

Multiple Options Likely at Raiders Quarterback

Still, Wilson could be a good option for the Raiders because they would not necessarily have to make him the starter. If they could sign him to a bargain contract after his release from Denver, Wilson could compete with incumbent starter Aidan O’Connell for the job next year.

O’Connell had his struggles in 2023 but did show some promise and could come back a more decisive, polished and, one hopes, mobile quarterback than he was last year. That could be a factor for the Raiders, because wriggling out of the $72 million contract they gave Garoppolo last year will be costly—$15.5 million in dead money this year, and $12.8 million next year.

If the Raiders have an O’Connell and Wilson competition, it would be a cost-effective way for the team to handle its quarterback situation while Garoppolo’s money sits on the books. O’Connell will carry a cap hit of just about $1 million next season.

Bringing in Wilson gives the Raiders a home-run swing with a solid insurance plan. If Wilson regains his old form, the Raiders could hit it big at QB. If not, though, they’ve still got O’Connell.

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