Russell Wilson Wants to Retire as a Denver Bronco

That might be his only option

Denver Broncos quarterback Russell Wilson reacts during the fourth quarter against the Seattle Seahawks on Monday Night Football
Who has two thumbs and unjustified self confidence? This guyyyy...
Steph Chambers/Getty

In 2020, at the age of 32, Russell Wilson, then quarterback of the Seattle Seahawks, threw a career-high 13 interceptions. He hasn’t been that good since, in terms of not just Quarterback Rating, but also win-loss record as a starter. His age and deteriorating performance helped prompt a trade to the Denver Broncos where, after a terrible first season in 2022, he was benched at the end of 2023. Wilson said the benching may have been the result of a contract dispute with the franchise, though head coach Sean Payton said it was due to poor play.

Still, looking ahead to a season in which Wilson will turn 36, he’s not short on self-confidence.

“Over the next five years, I want to win two [Super Bowls],” he told former NFL wide receiver Brandon Marshall on the “I Am Athlete” podcast. “I want to feel the chill of that trophy again.”

Despite things not going well in the Mile-High City, Wilson said he wants those future championships to come while he’s dressed in a Broncos uniform. “I hope I get to finish there,” Wilson said, referring to Denver. “I committed there…I love the city.”

That’s all well and good, but it’s not as though, from a playing career standpoint, Wilson is brimming with options. The NFL teams in need of a quarterback were (predictably) bad last year and, for the most part, are either in a position to draft a new one in 2024 or won’t be competitive in the near future. Another reason the Seahawks traded Wilson was because they were looking to rebuild. (Though they wound up making the playoffs the following season, in part because of the hefty return they received for him, Seattle came back down to earth in 2023.) So if for Wilson “it’s about winning,” as he also said yesterday on the podcast, it’s challenging to see him ending up in a place where that will happen. Why would a franchise that is not rebuilding and in a position to go for a championship spend money on him after the past few seasons he’s had?

Russell Wilson Has the Money. Sean Payton Has the Power and Respect in Denver.
Jarrett Stidham will start for the Broncos on Sunday against the Chargers

While it’s his right to do so, Wilson seems like he’s trying to save face because he not only has few places to go but the Broncos might also be motivated to roll the dice with him one more time. Cutting Wilson would result in an $85 million dead-money hit for the team, per The Athletic, and their current 12th spot in the draft means they won’t be getting a top college talent in that position this year.

Of course, stranger things have happened than a prospective Wilson cut or another trade that would take him out of Denver. But right now it seems like both parties know they’re probably stuck with each other. Payton hasn’t ruled out the Broncos bringing him back, and Wilson might want him to know that if he stays, the head coach could end up a happy camper. “I’ve got more fire than ever,” Wilson said on the podcast, “especially over the past two years and what I’ve gone through.” 

Two years too many? Time will tell.

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