MIAMI GARDENS, FLORIDA - SEPTEMBER 24: Head coach Sean Payton of the Denver Broncos talks to Russell Wilson #3 of the Denver Broncos prior to a game against the Miami Dolphins at Hard Rock Stadium on September 24, 2023 in Miami Gardens, Florida.
Photo by Megan Briggs/Getty Images

Sean Payton’s Reasoning Behind Decision to Bench Russell Wilson

Russell Wilson's Denver Broncos future just became a lot murkier.

According to multiple reports, head coach Sean Payton made the decision Wednesday to bench Wilson for the final two games of the regular season, handing the reins over to Jarrett Stidham ahead of the Broncos' Week 17 game against the Los Angeles Chargers.

Despite the fact that Wilson's deal includes $39 million guaranteed for next season. But, if Wilson were to suffer an injury that prevented him from passing a physical at the beginning of the league year, he'd collect an additional $37 million. Presuming he does not play another snap during the 2023 campaign, Wilson would not have that additional injury payment trigger for 2024.

"I think it absolutely has an impact on the future and how those two sides view each other," a marquee agent with several starting quarterback clients told FanBuzz, on the condition of anonymity to discuss a player he does not represent. "He's a pretty average player at this point, and that's huge money."

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Wilson has been wildly inconsistent for the Broncos this season, and at times seemed miscast for Payton's scheme. Prior to Wednesday's decision to bench Wilson, the 35-year-old had completed 66.4 percent of his passes for 3,070 yards with 26 touchdowns to eight interceptions for the 7-8 Broncos.

Denver enters Week 17 at 7-8, one game back of the Indianapolis Colts for the No. 7 seed, but would be on the outside looking in in 12th place in the AFC, if the regular season ended today.

It remains to be seen whether the Broncos believe that Wilson is their best option for the future, especially given the fact that he is just 11-19 since Denver acquried him in exchange for five draft picks, Drew Lock, Noah Fant, and Shelby Harris. But, Wilson's benching could set the stage for a contentious offseason in Denver.

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