5 landing spots for Broncos’ Russell Wilson amid possible release

NBC Sports Bay Area

Russell Wilson might be riding right out of Broncos country.

Denver head coach Sean Payton confirmed on Wednesday that the 35-year-old Wilson will be benched for the final two games in favor of Jarrett Stidham. The 7-8 Broncos are on the outside looking in regarding the AFC playoff picture despite enjoying a five-game winning streak that provided optimism.

Amid the benching, Wilson reportedly is expecting the Broncos to cut him in March, a move he’s seemingly known about for two months.

The Broncos acquired Wilson from the Seattle Seahawks in the 2022 offseason in a trade that included two first-round picks and two seconds. They also signed the Super Bowl-winning QB to a five-year, $245 million extension ahead of his first season with the franchise.

But it’s looking like a stint cut short for Wilson, who also on Wednesday posted on X he’s “looking forward to what’s next.”

If he’s available as a free agent this coming offseason — which could be a big hit to Denver’s financial books — these five teams could make sense for the nine-time Pro Bowler:

Washington Commanders

Whether head coach Ron Rivera is part of the equation is one thing, the Commanders haven’t fielded a stable starting quarterback since the Kirk Cousins era ended in 2017. Sam Howell, 23, is young but hasn’t shown enough flashes to be viewed as the long-term option, with 31-year-old Jacoby Brissett now stepping up under center. The Commanders deployed a robust defense in 2022 but moved away some key pieces this season. Wilson, who grew up in Richmond, Va., could be an enticing add for a team who desperately needs a face.

Pittsburgh Steelers

It doesn’t matter who the starting quarterback is for head coach Mike Tomlin, he’ll always keep the Steelers in the hunt. Former 2022 first-round pick Kenny Pickett hasn’t lived up to the billing, with Mitch Trubisky and Mason Rudolph rotating between starts in the youngster’s absence. Their defense is good enough to compete, especially in the turnover department, and their commitment to the run game is something Wilson benefits from as evident from his Seattle days. Tomlin hasn’t worked with a big talent since Ben Roethlisberger. Could they look into Wilson?

Atlanta Falcons

Atlanta was blessed to start Matt Ryan from 2008 to 2021, but the last two seasons haven’t been kind to its quarterback situation. Second-year third-rounder Desmond Ridder and former Commander Taylor Heinicke are not good enough long-term options in a weak NFC South. Head coach Arthur Smith may not make for a suitable match with Wilson, but the Falcons have more than enough talent to seize the division next season should they find a QB upgrade.

New York Giants

Wait, didn’t the Giants just fork over a four-year, $160 million extension to Daniel Jones? Yes. But the 26-year-old, who currently is rehabbing from a torn ACL, can be designated a post-June 1 release in the coming offseason without New York losing any money against the 2024 cap. There were also rumors of the current front office poking around Wilson’s potential arrival to the Big Apple prior to his initial trade, though the QB only wanted Denver at the time. Should a match be made between them in 2024, it would set up a scene of Wilson and New York Jets star Aaron Rodgers in the same city for their potential final chapters. The Giants would need to surround Wilson with much better receiving talent than they currently have, though.

New England Patriots

Like the Falcons, the Patriots haven’t been the same since Tom Brady’s departure for Tampa Bay in 2020. Mac Jones supplied fresh optimism in his rookie season, but he’s steadily declined since and Bailey Zappe’s appearances have been too inconsistent. If Bill Belichick is still at the helm next season and beyond, both Wilson and the Patriots could look to revitalize the other, similar to the Cam Newton era in 2020. But Wilson might just offer a little more juice than Newton did at that stage. New England can go the young route again in the 2024 draft, but Wilson could be another option on the table worth ruminating.

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