Both the Broncos and Russell Wilson have expressed the obvious desire for a long-term partnership, a scenario introduced by the historic trade package sent to the quarterback’s former team. But the sides are operating methodically here.
No negotiations are believed to have taken place yet, Jeff Howe of The Athletic notes (subscription required). Wilson is signed through the 2023 season, with the two years of remaining control — on a $35MM-per-year contract the Seahawks negotiated in 2019 — helping increase the trade package Seattle received in March.
Broncos GM George Paton said earlier this week the negotiations will be kept in-house but added, via Howe, “We didn’t give up all we gave up for him to be here for two years; that’s for sure.” The Broncos would have the option of a 2024 franchise tag with their new quarterback, but this situation should not be expected to reach that point. Wilson, 33, should be expected to sign a monster extension with the Broncos. If the timing of the perennial Pro Bowler’s two Seahawks negotiations is any indication, an extension during his contract-year offseason (2023, in this case) will commence.
Wilson’s previous two negotiations did not exactly stay in-house. In 2015, Wilson extension talks ran from mid-April to late July. The Seahawks hammered out a deal July 31, 2015 — a four-year, $87.6MM agreement — but that came after numerous headlines pertaining to the talks surfaced. In 2018, a report emerged indicating Wilson expected to be tagged after his second contract expired. But, after a three-plus-month negotiation in 2019 — one that included Wilson setting a mid-April deadline to wrap his third contract — the sides reached agreement on the then-record $35MM-AAV extension.
Although the Broncos gave Peyton Manning a lucrative five-year deal in 2012, this will be new financial terrain for a franchise that has famously struggled to replace the all-time great. Denver’s issues replacing Manning, a marketplace that could include new deals for Lamar Jackson and possibly Joe Burrow and Justin Herbert, an again-rising salary cap, and the Broncos being set to have the NFL’s wealthiest owner (Rob Walton) soon all stand to work in Wilson’s favor.
A bounce-back year from the likely Hall of Fame-bound passer would only further drive up his market. Although Paton and Seahawks GM John Schneider kept their trade talks quiet, Wilson’s past negotiations indicate low-key contract talks might not happen. Regardless of how this process reaches a conclusion, the Broncos will be expected to have their new franchise passer signed long-term by the start of the 2023 campaign.