NFL: New England Patriots at Denver Broncos

The Denver Broncos have officially made a decision on quarterback Russell Wilson, as the franchise informed the veteran signal-caller that he will be released after the league year begins on March 13. Wilson signed a $245 million multi-year extension that was supposed to carry him through 2028 before even playing a snap for Denver, a decision which came back to bite the Broncos.

The Broncos will eat $39 million, according to NFL Media, but they avoid the $37 million guaranteed that would trigger for 2025. Per Front Office Sports, the Broncos will take on an NFL-record $85 million in dead cap. It's likely this move will be designated as a post-June 1 transaction. According to Pro Football Talk, Denver will have a cap charge of $35.4 million in 2024, and another cap charge of $53.6 million for 2025.

The Broncos announced their decision with a joint statement from general manager George Paton and head coach Sean Payton. 

"We spoke with Russell Wilson today to inform him of his release after the start of the league year. On 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 the flexibility to get better through the draft and free agency."

Wilson also posted a lengthy statement on social media thanking the city of Denver, plus his now-former teammates and employees of the Broncos. Wilson also said that he's excited for what's next. 

The Wilson era in Denver was certainly a forgettable one, as the former Super-Bowl winning quarterback went 11-19 as the starter. In 2022, the Broncos sent the Seattle Seahawks a 2022 first-round pick, a 2022 second-round pick, a 2022 fifth-round pick, a 2023 first-round pick, a 2023 second-round pick, plus tight end Noah Fant, defensive lineman Shelby Harris and quarterback Drew Lock in exchange for Wilson and a 2022 fourth-round pick. 

Wilson had a disastrous first season with Denver under first-year head coach Nathaniel Hackett, going 4-11 while setting career-worsts in completion percentage (60.5%), passing touchdowns (16) and passer rating (84.4). Wilson improved on all of those numbers in 2023, going 7-8 as the starter while completing 66.4% of his passes for 26 touchdowns and eight interceptions, but he averaged just 204.7 passing yards per game, which ranked No. 20 in the NFL, and was his lowest mark since his rookie season back in 2012.

Wilson was benched following a 26-23 Week 16 loss to the lowly New England Patriots, with Jarrett Stidham taking over at quarterback. While Wilson's play wasn't exactly All-Pro worthy, the decision to bench him certainly had something to do with his contract, as Wilson had an injury guarantee of $37 million for 2025 that would go into effect should he suffer any injury that would prevent him from passing a physical in March.

The Broncos have given Wilson permission to immediately meet with other teams in their home cities, per ESPN, before the new league year starts March 13. So, where could Wilson play next? Let's take a look at some potential landing spots.

Atlanta Falcons

New Falcons head coach Raheem Morris made it clear at the combine that all avenues are open when it comes to Atlanta finding its new quarterback. It could come via trade, free agency or the draft. That makes Wilson an option, especially when you consider that the 35-year-old probably wants to continue starting.

Zac Robinson is the new conductor of the Falcons' offense, a unit which has playmakers across the board in Bijan Robinson, Tyler Allgeier, Drake London and Kyle Pitts. One of the main criticisms of former head coach Arthur Smith was that he didn't run the offense through his best playmakers, so Russ can be just a distributor of the football instead of having to will his team to victory by himself.

Pittsburgh Steelers

The Steelers are in a similar boat with the Falcons. They aren't like the Chicago Bears, Washington Commanders or Patriots where they have a top pick in the draft which will likely be used on a quarterback. Pittsburgh could still use the No. 20 overall selection on a rookie signal-caller, but the Steelers could also go the veteran route. 

Former Cincinnati Bengals star wideout Chad Johnson has put it out there that Wilson is on his way to Pittsburgh. 

"A little birdie told me -- and I said this many shows ago -- Russell Wilson's coming on over there to the Steelers," he said on Shannon Sharpe's "Nightcap" podcast. "Cleveland has Deshaun [Watson], but the AFC's gonna be hell. The AFC's gonna be hell."

Minnesota Vikings

The Vikings probably want to keep Kirk Cousins under center, but he's arguably the top free agent available, and could find more money on the open market. That would put the Vikings in the market for a quarterback, and while they could draft one later this offseason, they also could bring in a veteran. 

Tennessee Titans

IF Wilson does not receive legitimate interest on the market to be a starter, and were to accept a role as backup, Tennessee could be a potential landing spot. The Titans are likely in the market for a veteran backup quarterback able to help develop second-year signal-caller Will Levis, who actually missed two starts at the end of last year due to injury. If Wilson was to accept a role as backup, it would open up a whole different market, which would probably include the Titans. Plus, Ciara in Music City would be sweet, too.