In a surprising move, the Denver Broncos have decided to bench nine-time Pro Bowl quarterback Russell Wilson for the upcoming game against the Los Angeles Chargers. Head coach Sean Payton has announced that Jarrett Stidham will take the starting role, with Wilson serving as the backup.
Coach Payton emphasized the team’s focus on winning and the decision to seek offensive sparks as the primary reasons for the quarterback change. The move also provides financial flexibility for the Broncos in the upcoming offseason, with Wilson’s contract having additional guarantees if he cannot pass a physical by early March.
Wilson, 35, expressed his anticipation for the next chapter in his career on social media, indicating acceptance of the decision. The Broncos, still in playoff contention with an outside chance, hope the switch to Stidham can revitalize their offense, which has struggled in recent games.
The financial considerations play a significant role in this decision, as Wilson’s hefty contract includes a $37 million injury guarantee for 2025, fully guaranteed if he cannot pass a physical in March. This late-season change suggests that the Broncos might be considering moving on from Wilson in the 2024 season.
While Wilson has contributed to the team, the offense has faced challenges, ranking in the middle to lower tiers in various statistical categories. The Broncos will use the remaining two games to evaluate Stidham and assess their quarterback situation for the 2024 season.
The decision echoes a similar move by the Las Vegas Raiders last season with Derek Carr, where the starter was benched in favor of the backup to explore future roster possibilities. Stidham, who signed with the Broncos this offseason, will have the opportunity to showcase his skills.
The Broncos, with a record of 7-8, face an uphill battle for a playoff spot, needing two wins and external help. The benching of Wilson signifies a strategic decision by Coach Payton to prioritize evaluations for the upcoming season and address roster concerns.