Sean Payton Throws Shade at New Steelers QB Russell Wilson With 1 Word

The Pittsburgh Steelers have gotten a lot done in the month of March.

Broncos coach Sean Payton gives blunt 1-word response when asked if it was  difficult to release Russell Wilson | Fox News

It started with them signing Russell Wilson to try and fix their quarterback problem from last season.

That move was only possible because of a decision the Denver Broncos made.

The organization decided to let Wilson go after benching him at the end of the 2023 season.

It turns out that decision wasn’t particularly tough for the Broncos.

At the 2024 NFL Owners’ Meeting, Sean Payton was asked if cutting Wilson was a difficult decision and without hesitation, he answered (via Bob Pompeani), “No.”

Denver’s Wilson Saga Worked Out Great for the Steelers

Hopes were high in Denver after the Broncos traded a haul to bring Wilson in following years of bad quarterback play.

He was expected to turn the franchise back into a contender. Unfortunately, it didn’t quite work out that way.

The first year with Wilson was a disaster. He numbers were disappointing with a completion percentage of 60.5% and only five more touchdowns thrown than interceptions. The team finished the year with a 5-12 record and their head coach was fired before the end of his first season with the team.

Things got better in year two. Wilson’s completion percentage was way up and he threw 26 touchdowns.

The team got better too. They won eight games and were in the playoff hunt late in the year.

However, the Broncos still hadn’t reached the level they expected and they ended up benching Wilson for the last two games of the year.

That seemed to signal the end of his time with the team and they eventually made it official early in March.

To release Wilson, the Broncos had to eat $85 million in dead cap.

That worked out pretty well for the Steelers.

As a result of the dead cap, Wilson didn’t stand to make any more money in 2024 based on his contract with his next team.

Any money that team pays is just less the Broncos owe him.

That led to him accepting the league minimum for his one-year contract with the Steelers.

That gave the Steelers the freedom to pursue other free agent talent to give Wilson a team he can win with and also allowed them to bring in Justin Fields as they weren’t already heavily invested in the position.

Now they have a nine-time Pro Bowl QB under center at almost no cost all thanks to the decision that the Broncos apparently didn’t have a tough time making.

It Should Have Been Difficult

Things obviously didn’t work out with Wilson in Denver and it seems he wasn’t the quarterback that Payton wanted, but that doesn’t mean it should have been an easy decision to make.

It obviously starts with the money. The Broncos now owe a lot of money to a quarterback that is going to play somewhere else for the next two seasons and have had to eat a historic dead cap hit.

However, that’s far from the only reason why there should have been some difficulty in letting Wilson go.

The bigger reason should be that the team left themselves with absolutely no clear path forward at the position.

The best QB on their roster right now is Jarrett Stidham. If he is their starting QB in 2024, they aren’t going to be winning many games. He certainly isn’t their future at the position.

With the 12th pick in this year’s draft, they also aren’t in a great position to find their future starter.

They could try to trade up, but this is a franchise that hasn’t picked in the first round since 2021. The Broncos aren’t exactly loaded with young talent right now. Are they really in a position to give away more draft capital to get a QB?

They’d be leaving themselves without future picks to build around that QB and Wilson’s dead cap hit staying on their books for the next two seasons is going to make it tough for them to bring in quality free agents.

This is also a team that allowed the league’s sixth most sacks in 2023 and then lost their starting center, leaving them with offensive line issues to address.

If the team trades up to draft a QB, that quarterback won’t be in a position to succeed early in their career.

Wilson and the Broncos clearly weren’t a match made in heaven, but with no clear answer for what’s next and a hefty cap hit, it shouldn’t have been an easy decision.

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