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Broncos Take Huge Financial Hit to Cut Ties With Russell Wilson

Reuters/Jamie Sabau
Reuters/Jamie Sabau

Russell Wilson’s time with the Denver Broncos officially came to an end Monday, months after the embattled NFL star had a public falling out with the team’s ownership and Coach Sean Payton that saw him benched for the final two games of last season.

In cutting ties with Wilson, the Broncos are on the hook for $85 million in dead money they must pay their ex-QB—the largest such hit in the history of the NFL.

The Broncos were expected to compete for Super Bowls when Wilson was signed to a five-year, $242 million contract extension in 2022, which saw him leave the Seattle Seahawks—he won a Super Bowl there in 2014—for the first time in his pro career with two years still on his contract.


Those expectations never came close to panning out, however, as Wilson led the Broncos to an overall record of 11-19—putting up back-to-back career-low QB ratings.

The always-optimistic Wilson released a statement Monday saying he’s “excited for what’s next.”

He also compiled a long list of thank yous to players and staff, which even included those in the cafeteria who brought the “good food” and “even better jams.”

“Tough times don’t last, but tough people do,” Wilson said. “God’s got me.”

Payton thanked Wilson “for his contributions and dedication to our team and community” in a boilerplate statement of his own.

Neither man addressed what led to their falling out, which is believed to have stemmed from a lack of results and Wilson’s refusal to find a “creative way” for Wilson to waive, or adjust, a $37 million injury guarantee in his contract.

Wilson said he didn’t budge on the request, which irked those above him, including Payton. He showed no remorse for refusing to take away an injury guarantee while playing in such an injury-plagued league.

“They came up to me at the beginning of the bye week—Monday or Tuesday—and told me that if I didn’t change my contract, my injury guarantee, that I’d be benched for the rest of the year … I was definitely disappointed about it,” Wilson said last year. I wasn’t going to take away injury guarantees. This game is such a physical game. I’ve played for 12 years and that matters to me.”

Wilson told reporters that the the NFL Players Association and league officials “got involved at some point,” but didn’t specify what their actions were.

“I came here to play,” Wilson added in December. “I knew it was going to be a process … I signed a seven-year deal … for us to go and play hard and that’s my goal.”

Read more at The Daily Beast.

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