Russell Wilson landing spots: Falcons, Patriots among 2024 best fits for benched Broncos QB

The Broncos’ Russell Wilson era appears to be coming to a close after two disappointing seasons.

On Wednesday, Denver coach Sean Payton announced that the team would be benching Wilson for the final two games of the 2023 NFL season in favor of backup quarterback Jarrett Stidham.

While Payton insisted that the decision was made “to get a spark offensively,” many have noted that the benching guarantees Wilson won’t trigger an injury guarantee in his contract worth an extra $37 million.

That signals that the Broncos are preparing to move on from the 35-year-old quarterback before the five-year, $242.6 million extension he signed with the team kicks in.

Indeed, Dianna Russini of The Athletic reports that the expectation is that Wilson will be released during the 2024 NFL offseason.

Wilson’s overall performance in Denver wasn’t what the team expected, but there still should be plenty of interest in his services. He may not be the same type of explosive playmaker that he once was, but he showed the skills of a strong game manager in 2023, completing 66.4 percent of his passes for 3,070 yards, 26 touchdowns and eight interceptions.

That may not have been enough to justify Wilson’s contract with the Broncos — worth $49 million in average annual value (AAV). Still, it should be enough to attract some suitors looking to add veteran help and depth to their quarterback rooms.

MORE: How Russell Wilson’s contract led to benching over final two weeks of 2023 NFL season

Here’s a look at some of the quarterback-needy teams that could look at Wilson during the 2023 NFL offseason.

Russell Wilson landing spots

Atlanta Falcons

The Falcons were high on Desmond Ridder entering the 2023 NFL season, but he hasn’t performed well as the team’s starter. The second-year pro has been benched in favor of Taylor Heinicke twice, and his second sit-down should signal the end of his time as a starting quarterback.

Wilson would provide the Falcons with a solid game manager who could distribute the ball to Atlanta’s top offensive weapons — Bijan Robinson, Drake London and Kyle Pitts. His accuracy and ability to avoid red-zone turnovers could be a boon for a Falcons team that isn’t far from competing in the wide-open NFC South.

So, if Atlanta ends up out-of-range for one of the 2024 NFL Draft’s top quarterback prospects, Wilson looks like a decent consolation prize.

New England Patriots

The Patriots are more likely than the Falcons to land Caleb Williams, Drake Maye or Jayden Daniels, but it remains possible that they could try to upgrade other areas of their roster with their top selection. If that happens, then the Patriots might be interested in adding a veteran to their roster to compete with Bailey Zappe.

Wilson would be a good fit in this role. He could certainly push Zappe for the starting job and would give the Patriots a fairly high floor at the quarterback position. New England would have to add some better weapons at receiver for Wilson to find consistent success, but he would be an ideal fit as a bridge quarterback — whether it’s to Zappe or a quarterback from the 2024 draft class.

MORE: Patriots best QB options for 2024, from Caleb Williams to Jimmy Garoppolo

Washington Commanders

The Commanders have an interesting quarterback situation on their hands. Sam Howell showed well at times during his first season as a starter, but he faded toward the end of the season. Will the Commanders trust him or will they draft or sign competition for him? That may ultimately be the decision of the new brain trust that is likely to take over for Ron Rivera and Co.

If Washington can’t land Williams, Maye or Daniels with its likely top-five pick, Wilson could be a good addition to compete with Howell. Wilson could begin the season as the starter and allow Howell to develop and learn the new offense behind the scenes while Wilson tries to make use of Terry McLaurin, Jahan Dotson and a talented group of offensive weapons.

Of course, Wilson would likely have the same sack problems that Howell had behind a shaky offensive line, so this fit may not be the best. And the veteran quarterback reportedly declined to waive his no-trade clause to join the Commanders before he was dealt to the Broncos.

But if Wilson wants a place where he can potentially start, Washington is one of his few potential options to find that.

Minnesota Vikings

The Vikings could have a quarterback conundrum on their hands in 2024. Both Kirk Cousins and Josh Dobbs are set to be free agents after the season, so that will leave only Jaren Hall and Nick Mullens on the team’s roster at quarterback.

Minnesota could re-sign either Cousins or Dobbs; however, Cousins is coming off a torn Achilles and the team already seemed destined to part with the 35-year-old during the offseason. Meanwhile, Dobbs was benched after just a few starts after being acquired from the Cardinals, so he may look to sign elsewhere — unless he believes he can win the Vikings’ starting job with more experience in the system.

But if the Vikings don’t re-sign either Cousins or Dobbs, Wilson would be among the best quarterback replacements the team could add. They have a ready-now group of offensive weapons, and Wilson would be poised to take advantage of those. Perhaps working with Kevin O’Connell would allow him to reverse his regression and regain the Pro Bowl form he demonstrated in Seattle.

If not, the Vikings could still do worse than Wilson as a bridge quarterback if Cousins opts for greener pastures. At the least, Wilson would be an upgrade over the turnover-prone Mullens as the team’s most proven quarterback.

MORE: Breaking down whether Vikings could re-sign Kirk Cousins, Josh Dobbs for 2024

Tennessee Titans

Will Levis has flashed at times for the Titans, but he isn’t Tennessee’s unquestioned answer at quarterback. He will likely be given a chance to fight for the job in 2024, but the Titans should look to add competition for him.

The Titans have the second-most 2024 cap space, as projected by OverTheCap.com, behind the Commanders, so they could make a run at Wilson to replace Ryan Tannehill on their roster. The team likely wouldn’t give Wilson a Tannehill-like contract that would limit its ability to spend elsewhere, but they could give him a modest, incentive-laden deal and ride with him if he outplays Levis.

Tennessee may not be an ideal landing spot for Wilson because he might not be guaranteed to start there. Still, the fact of the matter is that there aren’t many places where Wilson would be guaranteed to be the QB1.

As such, he may have to settle for his best available shot to win a starting job entering his 13th NFL season.

Source

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *