The Broncos' Trade For Russell Wilson Is Officially One of the Worst In Sports History

The Broncos' Trade For Russell Wilson Is Officially One of the Worst In Sports History

The Denver Broncos have benched Russell Wilson and Jarrett Stidham will start on Sunday against the Los Angeles Chargers. This move could signal the end of Wilson’s time in Denver. If that’s the case, the franchise’s 2022 trade to acquire the nine-time Pro Bowler from the Seattle Seahawks will go down as one of the worst in sports history.

On March 16, 2022, the Broncos sent two first-round picks, two second-rounders, a fifth-rounder, quarterback Drew Lock, tight end Noah Fant and defensive lineman Shelby Harris to Seattle in exchange for Wilson and a fourth-round pick. It was a massive trade, one that shook up the NFL. But it was a deal for a quarterback who had struggled during his final season in Seattle.

The Seahawks turned those picks into offensive tackle Charles Cross (No. 9 in 2022), edge Boye Mafe (No. 40 2022), corner back Devon Witherspoon (No. 5 in 2023), edge Derick Hall (No. 37 in 2023), and traded the 145th pick in 2022 for two more picks, landing edge Tyreke Smith (No. 158) and receiver Dareke Young (No. 233). Of those picks, only Smith is no longer with the Seahawks. Meanwhile, Witherspoon looks like an All-Pro, Cross is the team’s started left tackle, Mafe has developed into an excellent edge rusher and Hall, who is still a rookie, will take more time to evaluate. When you looked at Denver’s roster, most of those guys could have helped tremendously.

If the trade itself wasn’t bad enough, the Broncos then signed Wilson to a five-year, $245 million contract with $161 million in guaranteed money. Since arriving in Denver, Wilson has played in 30 games. In that time he’s completed 63.3 percent of his passes for 6,594 yards, with 42 touchdowns and 19 interceptions. He has averaged 7.1 yards per attempt and has a quarterback rating of 90.9. Those numbers are far off what he did in Seattle, where he completed 65.0 percent of his passes, averaged 7.8 yards per attempt, had a touchdown to interception ratio of 292 to 87 and a passer rating of 101.8. Perhaps worse, the Broncos are 11-19 when Wilson plays, which is a far cry from the 104-53-1 record he had with Seattle.

Denver has benched Wilson in hopes of working out a parting of the ways this offseason. The 35-year-old carries a $35.4 million cap hit for 2024, and his entire 2025 salary ($37 million) becomes guaranteed if he’s on the roster on March 17. If the Broncos release him by March 17 would result in a $49.6 million cap hit for 2024 when the team is already projected to be $18 million over the cap. If they designated him as a post-June 1 release, they would owe Wilson his entire $35.4 million salary and save in the future.

Trading Wilson on his current contract is highly unlikely.

The Broncos made this bed by going all-in on a diminishing quarterback. Now it’s coming back to haunt them. Head coach Sean Payton is done with Wilson after less than a season together.

The trade and contract are among the worst we’ve ever seen.

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