Russell Wilson Rumors: Steelers Rivals Say Tumultuous Broncos Years Shouldn’t Fool Us

Mike LogoFeatured Columnist IVMarch 22, 2024

HOUSTON, TEXAS - DECEMBER 03: Russell Wilson #3 of the Denver Broncos in action against the Houston Texans at NRG Stadium on December 03, 2023 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images)

Carmen Mandato/Getty Images

Multiple NFL talent evaluators reportedly believe veteran quarterback Russell Wilson has a legitimate chance to succeed with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Those from rival teams who spoke to Mike Jones of The Athletic said it wouldn’t be wise to let Wilson’s struggles with the Denver Broncos “fool us.” They added that Wilson can “still play” if put in the proper system and situation.

During his 10-year run with the Seattle Seahawks, Wilson established himself as a potential future Pro Football Hall of Famer, earning nine Pro Bowl nods, reaching the Super Bowl twice and winning a championship.

Given his remarkable résumé, the Broncos parted with a bevy of draft picks and players to acquire him from Seattle prior to the 2022 season.

Wilson’s first year in Denver couldn’t have gone much worse, as he went 4-11 in 15 starts and had the worst production of his career, completing 60.5 percent of his passes for 3,524 yards, 16 touchdowns and 11 interceptions.

Head coach Nathaniel Hackett was fired before completing his first full season, and he was replaced by offensive guru and former longtime New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton for 2023.

Wilson played far better under Payton, going 7-8 and completing 66.4 percent of his passing attempts for 3,070 yards, 26 touchdowns and eight picks, while also rushing for 341 yards and three scores.

However, the Broncos made the decision to move on from him late in the season, as they benched Wilson for the final two games to avoid an injury and the possibility of injury guarantees triggering in his contract.

Denver then released Wilson this offseason, taking on an NFL-record dead cap hit of $85 million in the process.

Since the Broncos have to pay him $38 million this season to not play for them, Wilson was willing to take a huge discount, and signed a one-year, $1.21 million deal with Pittsburgh.

Wilson should represent a huge upgrade over 2022 first-round pick Kenny Pickett, who was traded to the Philadelphia Eagles shortly after Pittsburgh signed Wilson.

The Steelers then acquired fourth-year quarterback Justin Fields from the Chicago Bears for only a 2025 conditional sixth-round pick.

NFL front office people suggested to Jones that the 35-year-old Wilson could be in an ideal situation since the Steelers have a strong defense and figure to lean heavily on the running game with Najee Harris and Jaylen Warren.

Jones noted that much of Wilson’s success in Seattle was aided by one of the all-time great defenses in the Legion of Boom, plus an elite running game spearheaded by Marshawn Lynch.

Fields is also in a great spot since he can sit and learn behind a true pro in Wilson, and also has a chance to rebuild his value if he ever needs to play in 2024 given that he would have a better supporting cast in Pittsburgh than he did his first three NFL seasons in Chicago.

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