When Russell Wilson takes part in his first Broncos training camp practice Wednesday morning, he will have the ninth-richest contract among NFL quarterbacks ($24 million) and by average value ($35 million).
Low compensation? Possibly, considering his track record as a Super Bowl champion and a durable and productive player. Due for a raise? Probably, considering the explosive nature of salaries across the league with eight quarterbacks averaging at least $40 million in deals.
As the Broncos reported in camp Tuesday morning, is Wilson’s new contract — he has two years remaining on the deal he signed with Seattle — a priority for general manager George Payton?
“We’ve all wanted Russell here for a long time,” Payton said. “Out of respect for his team (of advisers) and our team, we’re going to keep it in-house, any discussions we might have. I have a really good relationship with (agent) Mark Rodgers. . At the right time, we will make a deal.”
And with that, Payton and coach Nathaniel Hackett met with reporters for 30 minutes inside Pat Bowlen Fieldhouse. The offseason featured big hires (Hackett and an almost entirely new coaching staff), big acquisitions (Wilson, outside linebacker Randy Gregory and defensive lineman DJ Jones) and a big buyout (the team’s pending sale for $4.65 billion). . Topics complete.
Naturally, understandably and justifiably, Wilson was the focal point of the debate. For the first time since Peyton Manning retired after the 2015 season, the Broncos believe they can enter the league’s arms race for more than just the length of Wilson’s current contract.
The Broncos didn’t pick three players and two first- and second-round picks each to make Wilson a short-term fix. It was a long-game move, one that would ideally end with Wilson playing the rest of his career in the orange No. 3 jersey.
“Anytime you get a franchise quarterback, a Super Bowl-winning quarterback like Russell Wilson, it’s going to speed up everything you do,” Payton said. “We needed a foundation (of players) to get a quarterback like him. If we didn’t have those players, we wouldn’t have made the investment in a quarterback like Russ. First of all, he wouldn’t be here. , right? Second, he didn’t come here to lose. He came here to win. He believed in our team and we believe in our team and now we believe even more that we got good players in the offseason. A group of
Patton and Hackett addressed several issues during their briefing:
Meeting with the owners
What is the story: Since Payton last met with reporters during the NFL Draft, the Broncos agreed to a buyout deal with a group led by Rob Walton, Greg Penner and Carrie Walton-Penner for a franchise-record world-record price. The new ownership group is expected to receive approval from NFL teams on Aug. 9 in Minneapolis.
Peyton said: “The whole organization is really exciting. It’s a dynamic ownership group. Incredibly talented, intelligent and thoughtful with (their) leadership (style) and they will help the culture here. We look forward to having them here.” Can’t. I’ve had a few conversations with them and one thing I know is they’re about winning and they want to win the right way. They’ll set the tone.”
Analysis: The wealth of the Walton-Penner ownership group means that if Payton does (and why wouldn’t he?) the Broncos will continue to spend up the salary cap and it also means that they have resources such as will be able to allocate money for Amenity upgrades and amenities that other owners may benefit from.
Offensive line uncertainty
What is the story: The Broncos’ starting offensive line for Week 1 in Seattle? To be determined … and much remains less determined. The right tackle contest will not start Wednesday as Billy Turner (knee) remains sidelined. Will Hackett Graham challenge Lloyd Cushberry at center for Glasgow? Is Quinn Meinerz a lock to start at right guard? The Broncos have more questions than answers.
Hackett said: “I look at my last two seasons with Green Bay and you start with five, but you’re going to need everybody. For us, we train them all over the place because you never know what’s going to happen. You have to make sure everyone is ready and can play together.
Analysis: Last year, the Packers, whose offensive coordinator was Hackett, started three left tackles and two left guards, centers, right guards and right tackles each in 17 regular-season games. We see Hackett’s point about positional flexibility, but the sooner the starting five is established, the sooner they can achieve synergy.
Chubb’s recovery began
What is the story: Outside linebacker Bradley Chubb spent the offseason rehabbing from ACL and ankle injuries in 2020 and ’21, respectively. Chubb enters his fifth NFL camp after a regular ramp-up period.
Hackett said: “Since I’ve been here, he hasn’t been fun to try and block. He’s been improving (the offensive line).
Analysis: Chubb’s availability and productivity is even more important now that Gregory’s shoulder surgery has kept him out. If Chubb can match the 12 sacks he had as a rookie in 2018, he’ll help the Broncos become more competitive and earn a long-term deal that’s here to stay.
What is the story: The Broncos are reeling from five straight losing seasons and six consecutive playoff absences. But Wilson’s addition has raised expectations internally even though the preseason magazine projected the Broncos to finish third or last in the highly competitive AFC West.
Peyton said: “We know the expectations are higher than here. We are not blind to it. We embrace the expectations, but we have a long way to go. We haven’t won in 5-6 years. We had seven matches last year. won. We are now 0-0. I know we will embrace the process and I look forward to the journey with Coach Hackett and this team and everyone involved.”
Analysis: The key to playing meaningful games in mid-December will be what the Broncos do during the first eight games of the year, when they should be favored to win six straight. If they return from London with a 6-2 record, the buzz should shift into high gear.