All that draft capital given up to acquire Wilson, a supposed sure-fire proven QB who would provide the missing piece needed to catapult the Broncos into contention, and it looks very like they're aiming to move on two years and two head coaches later. A salutary lesson that mortgaging the future for a QB is a massive risk.Broncos benching QB Russell Wilson for remainder of 2023 season to preserve financial flexibility
The Denver Broncos aren't eliminated from playoff contention, but they are making a quarterback change with two weeks to play.
NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported on Wednesday that the Broncos are benching Russell Wilson for the final two games of the regular season, per sources informed of the situation.
Jarrett Stidham will make his first start for the Broncos this Sunday against the Chargers. NFL Network Insider Tom Pelissero added that Wilson will dress for Week 17's game as the No. 2 QB.
One key reason behind the switch is financial, per Rapoport. Wilson has a $37 million injury guarantee for 2025 that becomes fully guaranteed in March. Sitting the QB the final two weeks to ensure he doesn't suffer a catastrophic injury provides the Broncos financial flexibility if Sean Payton and Co. decide to move on from the 35-year-old quarterback in 2024. It's not a done deal, but the late-season benching is a strong indicator Denver will end the Wilson ride after two seasons.
Wilson is due $39 million fully guaranteed in 2024.
In 15 starts this year, Wilson has completed 66.44 percent of his passes for 3,070 yards -- fewest in 12 seasons -- with 26 touchdown passes and eight interceptions. Once championed as the piece to get Denver over their playoff drought, if it's the end for Wilson with the Broncos, it'll go down as a massive disappointment.
Payton will use the final two weeks to see what he has in Stidham, who threw for 584 yards with four TDs and three INTs in two starts last season with Vegas.
With two games remaining, the 7 -8 Broncos have an 8% chance to make the postseason, per Next Gen Stats. They'll need Stidham to guide them to two wins over the Chargers and Raiders and get some help.
Benching Wilson to keep him healthy is a sign that Payton is ready to begin evaluations for the 2024 season as the coach continues to mold the roster to his liking.
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It also puts the Broncos into play for a trade to acquire a new QB. The problem is they don't have a 2nd round pick this year, but they might look to offload some players instead if they decide to aim high in the draft.