Russell Wilson’s Opportunity

The Denver Broncos have announced that they will release Russell Wilson from the team costing the team 85 million dollars against their cap in the 2024 season.  Many have speculated that the reason for the release is due to a lack of interest of teams willing to trade for him.  Some interpret this as Wilson is a washed-up asset and not worth the trouble.  I believe the no team would expend trade capital when they know they can sign him for the veteran minimum.  It was widely known Coach Sean Payton was dissatisfied with what he deemed to be an overpriced underperforming asset.  Wilson is still owed 40 million guaranteed this year.  He doesn’t need a contract.  He can sign anywhere that suits him on a one-year deal costing the signing team no more than a million dollars.  The question is, where will he go?

The marketplace will be wide open to Russell Wilson so long as he is willing to sign a one year prove it deal for the veterans minimum.  Baker Mayfield cashed in on his one year prove it deal, and Russell Wilson has the opportunity to do the same.  The question is, will his mogul aspirations stand in his own way like they did at Denver?

Russell Wilson, left, and Ciara arrive at the 30th annual Screen Actors Guild Awards on Saturday, Feb. 24, 2024, at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)

The Broncos made crucial mistakes in how they treated Russell Wilson.  They treated him like a king.  They forgot that he is just one of the 53 men on the team.  The quarterback position’s elevated status in the NFL has become problematic.  The higher end contracts such as Dak Prescott and Patrick Mahomes take up 22% of their team’s cap space.  This can create a lack of team synergy due to the massive gap in compensation.  Yet, Mahomes and Prescott seem to navigate the pressure well enough not to alienate their teams.

In contrast, Wilson’s cap number was only 13% of this year’s upcoming cap, and the Broncos are still willing to part with him.  Along with his massive contract extension, Wilson was provided his own office among other uncommon perks, setting him apart from his team and creating resentment amongst his teammates.  His elevated status on the team alienated himself from the team and ultimately hurt the product on the field.

Coach Sean Payton’s intellectual brutality failed to have a positive effect on Wilson.  Payton is intellectually crass, while Wilson outwardly projects a Christian corniness that is hard to relate to.  His former Seahawks teammates have talked extensively about his insular off the field nature.  He didn’t have an off the field relationship with Marshawn Lynch and many other players.  He held himself apart instead of finding a way to embrace his teammates.  This attitude apparently carried over to his time in Denver.  Even as a Christian, you need to find ways to relate to your teammates around you.  Wilson projects himself as set apart and better than others.  He will need to stamp that perception out to win over his new teammates again.

Russell Wilson must get back to the basics.  No one cares about letting him cook.  Everyone cares about him producing on the field.  Wilson used to be humble.  Perhaps this new experience will bring him back to his humble roots and refocus himself to get back on a hall of fame trajectory.

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