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Denver Broncos release Russell Wilson after torrid two-year spell

Russell Wilson has been released by the Denver Broncos after two difficult seasons as their starting quarterback, with the team taking an NFL-record $85million hit in dead money.

Wilson, a Super Bowl XLVIII champion during his distinguished spell with the Seattle Seahawks, joined the Broncos in a trade ahead of the 2022 season.

However, Denver failed to enjoy a winning season with Wilson at quarterback, finishing 5-12 in 2022 and 8-9 in 2023. They have not reached the playoffs since Peyton Manning led them to Super Bowl 50 glory to cap the 2015 campaign.

Wilson had long been expected to part company with the Broncos. In December, Wilson claimed the team had threatened to bench him if he did not agree to adjust his contract during their Week 9 bye, with the 35-year-old’s representatives saying Denver wished to remove a $37m injury guarantee in his deal.

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“We spoke with Russell Wilson to inform him of his release after the start of the league year,” coach Sean Payton and general manager George Paton said in a joint statement on Monday.

“Of behalf of the Broncos, we thank Russell for his contributions and dedication to our team and community while wishing him the best as he continues his career.

“As we move forward, we are focused on building the strongest team possible for the 2024 season and beyond.

“We are excited to improve this offseason and will have to the flexibility to get better through the draft and free agency.”

Wilson threw for 3,070  yards, 26 touchdowns and eight interceptions in 2023. He was benched for Jarrett Stidham for Denver’s final two games of the season against the Los Angeles Chargers and Las Vegas Raiders, with their playoff hopes ending despite a 16-9 win over the Chargers in Week 17.

Wilson released a statement of his own on Instagram, thanking Denver’s fans but not mentioning Payton, Paton or the team’s ownership.

“Broncos country, thank you! Over these last two years, you have welcomed my family and me with open arms and have embraced us as members of the Denver community,” he wrote.

“This city will always hold a special place in my heart. Our family grew here, we made countless memories and friendships, and formed relationships that will last a lifetime.”

Wilson will now go into free agency, with the Minnesota Vikings and Pittsburgh Steelers among the teams linked with a move for the veteran.

The Broncos, meanwhile, will reportedly take a huge $85m hit in dead money against their cap space. They have the number 12 pick in April’s draft and could target a quarterback prospect, having not had a first-round pick since 2021.


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