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Russell Wilson’s ‘influence’ and ‘very strange’ actions caused issues with Denver Broncos

Russell Wilson landed with the Denver Broncos in 2022 hoping to win another Super Bowl, while proving the Seattle Seahawks prevented him from fulfilling his potential. Following a disastrous first season in Denver, new reports are detailing everything that went wrong last year.

Wilson took the right first steps after landing in Colorado, buying a massive mansion and spending the offseason developing early chemistry with his wide receivers. After initial excitement following his arrival, though, issues quickly arose in Denver.

  • Russell Wilson stats (2022): 84.4 QB rating, 16-11 TD-INT, 60.5% completion rate, 4-11 record, 3,524 passing yards, 234.9 passing yard per game, 37.0 QBR

Related: Russell Wilson wanted coach, GM fired

Kalyn Kahler, Mike Sando and Jayson Jenks of The Athletic profiled the Broncos’ 2022 disaster in-depth. Conversations with more than 15 players, coaches and staffers revealed some of the real issues Denver experienced last season.

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Immediately after being acquired by the Broncos, Wilson informed the organization that he would employ his own support staff and it was necessary for them to be nearby. With approval from head coach Nathaniel Hackett and general manager George Paton, Wilson’s personal staff was allowed inside the facility.

While players were welcomed to visit Wilson in his office, the location reportedly was an issue. Denver allowed it to be on the second floor of its facility, the same level where team executives and coaches worked. It created an uncomfortable dynamic, with players often wanting to avoid going to the second floor because of its primary purpose.

There also was another issue for Denver’s coaches. Offices are typically reserved for members of the coaching staff, with an open-door policy meant to invite players to come in at any time. As a quarterback, Wilson’s ‘door’ should’ve been his locker in the eyes of some former staffers.

At his introductory press conference, Payton was asked about Wilson having his personal quarterback coach inside the building to help him. Denver’s new coach made it immediately clear that won’t be tolerated.

“That’s foreign to me — that’s not going to take place. I’m unfamiliar with it. Our staff will be here, our players will be here and that will be it.”

Denver Broncos HC Sean Payton on Russell Wilson having his private coach inside team facility (ESPN)

There was also another issue in Denver, beyond Wilson being provided with far too much influence over the coaching staff. The nine-time Pro Bowl selection would use clips and highlights from his days with the Seattle Seahawks early in the Broncos’ season, which some saw as Wilson going down memory lane.

  • Russell Wilson contract: $22 million cap hit (’23), $35.4M cap hit (’24), $55.4M cap hit (’25)

Between Wilson’s habits, his growing influence and the presence of his own personal coach, it created weird dynamics within the building. Ultimately, the questions about who Wilson listened to became an issue and it reportedly caused some conflict.

Related: Denver Broncos draft picks 2023

In November, reports also surfaced that only half the team showed up for Wilson’s birthday party with the personnel largely made up of offensive players. However, teammates have continued to support their quarterback in the months since.

Payton’s early message is a positive sign for the Broncos, with the power structure returned to a normal NFL standard and Wilson’s personal coaches only available during his personal time. While it bodes well for the team improving next season, there are still questions about whether or not Payton can make it work with the 34-year-old quarterback.

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