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Russell Wilson Gets a Head Start Finding a New Team as Denver Broncos Take Massive Salary Cap Hit While Coughing Up $39 Million to Let Him Go

The Denver Broncos may have severed working ties with quarterback Russell Wilson, but the team is allowing him to get a head start on finding a new team as a free agent. 

The Broncos announced this week that they are releasing the quarterback two years after they traded for him, leaving the team with an $89 million dead cap money hit for the breakup.

As explained by ESPN national reporter Dan Graziano, “A dead money charge is a charge on an NFL team’s salary cap for a player who is no longer on the roster. It represents any remaining signing bonus proration that was not accounted for prior to the player’s release or trade.”

While cutting Wilson before the start of the new league year does not guarantee his 2025 salary, it does allow him to begin fielding calls with other teams, a strategic move as the NFL free agency period also begins on March 13 after 4 p.m. The writing was on the wall when a healthy Wilson was benched for the final two games of the 2023 season.

Reports emerged then that Wilson claimed he’d refused the team’s request to change the $37 million injury clause in his contract, one which would have guaranteed his salary for 2025 if he’d been on the roster after 4 p.m. on March 13.

Wilson, who is worth a reported $135 million, is still guaranteed his salary for this season. As per his contract, he cannot earn less than the $39 million owed by the Broncos — meaning that if a team signs Wilson, they can pay him a veteran’s minimum salary of $1.21 million, with the rest made up by the Broncos. 

Teams such as the Atlanta Falcons, Tennessee Titans, Pittsburgh Steelers, Minnesota Vikings, and Washington Commanders are all looking for starting quarterbacks. Wilson, as a free agent, could be a viable signing for any of these teams. 

What Soured Wilson’s Relationship With The Broncos? 

In March 2022, Wilson signed a five-year contract for $242.6 million with the Broncos, ending his 10-year relationship with the Seattle Hawks. 

However, Wilson’s two years with the Broncos were not a career highlight. 

In his first year with the team, the Broncos’ record was 5-12. While it improved slightly to 8-9 in this past season, a rocky relationship with head coach Sean Payton led onlookers to speculate that Wilson would be cut from the team. When Wilson was benched from the final two games of the season and put his Denver mansion up for sale recently, it became evident that Wilson’s days as a Bronco were numbered. 

On Monday Broncos officials and Wilson both shared that their working relationship had come to an end. 

“As we move forward, we are focused on building the strongest team possible for the 2024 season and beyond,” general manager George Paton and Payton said in a joint statement. “We are excited to improve this offseason and will have the flexibility to get better through the draft and free agency,”   

Wilson thanked his team members and fans in an Instagram statement, “Tough times don’t last, but tough people do. God’s got me. I am excited for what’s next. #3.”

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