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Broncos benching QB Russell Wilson rest of season due to financial reasons

Denver wants to preserve financial flexibility for the offseason given Wilson has $37M in salary that vests in 2025, which would be complicated by an injury.

Russell Wilson #3 of the Denver Broncos passes the ball against the New England Patriots in the fourth quarter at Empower Field at Mile High on December 24, 2023 in Denver, Colorado. Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images

Update: Broncos head coach Sean Payton confirms that Jarrett Stidham will start against the Chargers.


The Denver Broncos are considering benching quarterback Russell Wilson for the rest of the regular season due to financial reasons, per Ian Rapoport. The Broncos are still in the playoff hunt, but there are financial stipulations that would kick in if Wilson were to get hurt. According to Rapoport’s report, Wilson has a “$37 million in 2025 salary that vests in March of 2024,” and a serious injury for the QB would restrict the team’s financial flexibility.

If Denver does choose to bench Wilson, backup QB Jarrett Stidham will get the start. A similar situation happened for Stidham when he was with the Las Vegas Raiders last season, backing up quarterback Derek Carr. Stidham finished that season playing in five games and has 656 passing yards with four touchdowns and three interceptions.

Wilson had a resurgent year after what we saw in 2022. If this is the end of his playing time in 2023, he will finish with 3.070 passing yards with 26 touchdowns and eight interceptions in 15 games. The financial flexibility could see Wilson being traded in the offseason, as the Broncos could look to avoid his salary becoming guaranteed. Still, the more likely option is that Denver just wants to ensure that he isn’t due an extra $37 million guaranteed if he were to suffer the injury and likely plans on having him under center in 2024.

The Broncos will take on the Los Angeles Chargers in Week 17, but they do not control their own playoff destiny. Denver can likely stay alive with a win, but of the eight possible playoff-eliminating scenarios, three of them don’t even involve the Broncos.

Broncos are eliminated from playoff contention with:

1) Loss to Chargers OR
2) Tie + Jaguars win/tie OR
3) Tie + Colts win/tie + Texans win/tie OR
4) Tie + Steelers win/tie OR
5) Tie + Bengals win OR
6) Bills win/tie + Steelers win OR
7) Bills win/tie + Texans win + Colts win + Jaguars loss/tie OR
8) Texans win+ Colts win + Jaguars loss/tie + Steelers win