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Russell Wilson reportedly could use rare tactic in NFL free agency to get back at Denver Broncos

Russell Wilson, Denver Broncos
Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

The Denver Broncos struck a nerve with the NFL Players Association this season when quarterback Russell Wilson revealed the team threatened to bench him midseason if he didn’t renegotiate his contract. Months later, Wilson could get his revenge on Denver.

Wilson, age 35, is expected to be released by the Broncos when the 2024 NFL league year begins in March. The decision would come months after the nine-time Pro Bowl selection told reporters that Denver told him in October if he didn’t adjust the injury guarantees in his contract, he would be benched.

  • Russell Wilson stats 2023: 98.0 QB rating, 66.4% completion rate, 26-8 TD-INT, 3,070 passing yards, 6.9 yards per attempt, 7-8 record

Related: Multiple NFL teams high on Russell Wilson

Once Wilson is released by Denver, likely designated as a post-June 1 release, he will leave the team with a $35.4 million cap hit in 2024 and a $53.6 million cap hit in 2025. The team could designate him as a pre-June 1 release, but that would leave a historic $85 million cap hit.

However, NFL rules allow for some of that financial obligation to be recouped by the Broncos depending on what contract he signs in NFL free agency. For whatever amount he signs for with his next team, that much is taken off how much Denver would owe him. Evidently, Wilson is very aware of that and plans to use it against the Broncos this spring.

Appearing on Sunday’s SportsCenter, ESPN NFL insider Jeremy Fowler reported the feeling around the league is that Wilson will sign for considerably less on his next contract, potentially even taking the league minimum from whichever team he feels is his best fit.

“The feeling is he’ll sign for considerably less, maybe even the league minimum, because he’s got all that money in hand guaranteed. And so, he’s going to have options. The feeling I get from talking to teams and scouts is that he’s still an NFL starter, there will be a job somewhere for him.”

Jeremy Fowler on Denver Broncos quarterback Russell Wilson

Fowler’s reporting on this isn’t the first to indicate this is possible. Jori Epstein of Yahoo Sports shared a few weeks ago that the word around the Senior Bowl was that Wilson could sign for the veterans minimum to leave the Broncos on the hook for almost all of his guaranteed salary in 2024.

Related: 2024 NFL Draft order, see the Denver Broncos picks

Wilson’s willingness to sign a team-friendly contract leaves the door wide open to potential landing spots. The New England Patriots, Pittsburgh Steelers, Las Vegas Raiders, Minnesota Vikings and Atlanta Falcons could all pursue the veteran quarterback considering his low asking price.

  • Russell Wilson career stats: 43,653 passing yards, 334 passing touchdowns, 115-72-1 record

As for the Broncos, they are now poised to be on the hook for almost the entirety of their financial obligations to Wilson. Just two years after trading two first-round picks and two second-round picks to the Seattle Seahawks for Wilson, it’s shaping up to be one of the worst trades in NFL history.

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