As Russell Wilson prepares to close out what many have deemed a disastrous first year in Denver, the Broncos’ embattled quarterback does have support in at least one corner.
Wilson has already been installed as the favorite to win NFL Comeback Player of the Year honors by oddsmakers at SportsBetting.ag.
The Broncos are 4-12 entering Sunday’s season finale at the Los Angeles Chargers. Lose, and Denver could tie for the second worst record in the NFL.
That only drives the stake a bit further into the heart of the 2022 season, however, as the Broncos’ first-round draft pick in April belongs to the Seattle Seahawks courtesy of the blockbuster trade to bring Wilson to the Mile High City.
Wilson, 34, has thrown for 3,241 yards with a career-low 13 touchdowns. He has been sacked a career-high 53 times through 14 games.
In theory, those numbers would make the nine-time Pro Bowl signal-caller ripe for a bounce-back campaign in 2023 under a yet-to-be-hired head coach.
Wilson is the +400 favorite among 23 players being offered by the sportsbook.
He’ll face competition from a stiff group of candidates, the majority of whom are coming off major injuries rather than trying to rebound from a major drop in performance.
Breece Hall, RB, Jets (+450)
Hall burst out of the gates as a rookie, rushing for 463 yards and four touchdowns on 80 carries before suffering a torn ACL in a Week 7 win over the Broncos. Hall’s 681 yards from scrimmage were the fourth-most ever by a Jets player through seven games, per ESPN, and he’s still the team’s leading rusher on the season.
Hall is expected to be ready for the start of next season, when he projects as the Jets’ unquestioned lead back.
Trey Lance, RB, 49ers (+700)
Lance has undergone a pair of surgeries since fracturing his fibula and sustained ligament damage during a Week 2 game against the Seahawks. He is expected to be ready to participate in offseason activities, but Lance’s status as the 49ers’ long-term answer at quarterback remains murky.
Rookie Brock Purdy has the offense humming into the postseason, and the return of Jimmy Garoppolo could happen in January. While Purdy’s emergence likely signals the end of Garoppolo’s time with the 49ers this offseason, can the 49ers turn away from Purdy if he leads the team deep into the playoffs – and potentially a Super Bowl title?
Kyler Murray, QB, Cardinals (+750)
Late-season injuries inherently bring an additional layer of uncertainty. Murray underwent ACL reconstruction surgery after going down in a Week 14 loss to New England. He isn’t expected to be ready for Week 1, but how many games Murray misses next season might not be known until sometime in the fall.
He also might be adjusting to a new offensive scheme. The Cardinals were mired in a disappointing season well before Murray was injured and coach Kliff Kingsbury remains the favorite to be the next fired in the NFL.
Javonte Williams, RB, Broncos (+800)
Wilson’s adjustment to a new city and a new offense certainly wasn’t aided by Williams’ torn ACL in Week 4. Williams had emerged as a solid power back and the No. 1 option over fumble-prone Melvin Gordon.
Minus Williams, the Broncos’ ground game hit the skids. Gordon was eventually released and Denver has turned to veteran journeymen including Latavius Murray, Mike Boone, Chase Edmonds and Marlon Mack.
There’s no ready-made replacement on the roster and, like Hall, Williams is positioned for a lead back role entering next season.
Matthew Stafford, QB, Rams (+800)
The tea leaves never read well for Stafford in 2022. That began with an offseason procedure on his elbow and pain that lingered into training camp. Stafford was scuffling through a disappointing season for the Rams as a whole when he suffered a neck injury in Week 11.
That would prove to be the end of his season, which concluded with 2,087 passing yards, 10 touchdowns and eight interceptions in nine games. Stafford, 34, said he has no intention of retiring, and the Rams’ offense will regroup after a season that also saw wide receiver Cooper Kupp lost to an ankle injury and a non-stop turnstile along the offensive line.
Other intriguing names being offered by SportsBetting.ag for the Comeback award next season include Kupp (+1000), Colts quarterback Matt Ryan (+1400), Jets quarterback Zach Wilson (+1600) and Jaguars wide receiver Calvin Ridley (+2000), who was acquired from the Falcons during a one-year gambling-related suspension by the NFL.
–Field Level Media