Russell Wilson contract: Steelers set to pay former Broncos QB less than third-year Kenny Pickett

The Steelers are bringing in a quarterback to compete with 2022 first-rounder Kenny Pickett. And it’s not going to cost them much to do it.

Pittsburgh will reportedly land Russell Wilson, the former Super Bowl-winning quarterback who the Broncos will be officially releasing when the new league year begins. The 12-year NFL veteran announced the move on X (formerly Twitter) in a hype video.

The move to sign Wilson is an interesting one for a Steelers team that had previously been reported to feel satisfied with its quarterback situation. Wilson is coming off an improved season with the Broncos in which he had 26 touchdowns and only eight interceptions with a 66.4 completion percentage, but he also had a career-low 3,070 passing yards.

In signing the veteran Wilson, the Steelers are lighting a fire under Pickett, the No. 20 pick in 2022. Pickett has battled injuries over his first two season in the NFL, but when healthy, the results have been lackluster as he has completed only 62.6 percent of his passes for 4,474 yards, 13 touchdowns and 13 interceptions.

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The signing of Wilson will be a bit unusual, largely due to how much the veteran will be paid. Denver is eating $85 million in dead cap, including $39 million for the 2024 season.

How will that compare to Pickett, who is on his rookie contract? Here’s what you need to know.

Russell Wilson contract

Wilson is set to earn a whopping $39 million in 2024. However, only $1.2 million, the veteran minimum, will be covered by Pittsburgh, which will be on a one-year deal. The rest is all going to come from the Broncos.

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That means whenever the Steelers come to play the Broncos in 2024, Denver will be paying Wilson $37.8 million to stand on the opposite sideline — or take snaps as the opposing quarterback.

MORE: How much will Wilson be paid in 2024?

Kenny Pickett contract

Typically, it’s players on a rookie contract that are the most favorable to the books. That’s not the case for Wilson and Pickett.

The Steelers are set to take a $3.8 million cap hit from Pickett’s contract, with just under $1,983,900 coming in the form of his salary and $1,852,801 being charged as part of his signing bonus, which is spread out over four years, according to Spotrac. For Pittsburgh, that means Pickett will be the highest quarterback on the roster.

The decision to bring in Wilson does not automatically guarantee he will be the starter, though it is certainly more likely than not he will take over under center. If he does, the team will be paying their rookie backup over $2.6 million more than the veteran starter.

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