Sean Payton inherited a Broncos team with a declining Russell Wilson as its quarterback. Despite some decent improvement on Wilson's side this season, Payton still doesn't view the potential Hall of Famer as his guy.
The Broncos have a chance to get out of Wilson's contract this offseason. Considering the amount of money they'd owe by keeping him around, it's more than likely that Denver eats his dead cap hit and releases Wilson before the fifth day of the league year.
Once on the free-agent market, Wilson can evaluate his options, including re-signing with Denver for less money if he's interested. However, that also seems unlikely -- Payton and Wilson aren't on the best of terms.
Russell Wilson's relationship with the Broncos is over
The Broncos also reportedly benched Wilson after he wouldn't waive his injury guarantee during the 2023 season. His improved play certainly didn't suggest Jarrett Stidham would perform better. The NFLPA agrees with that statement.
"We believe that [Wilson] was in the right and was being mistreated. And so whether it's coming from Jeffrey [Kessler, an NFLPA attorney] or other efforts that may not have been as visible, we support our player and how they should be treated, be it financially or in any other manner," NFLPA Executive Director Lloyd Howell told the Washington Post.
Being locked in a legal dispute with Wilson won't help Payton's relationship with him. Neither will the upcoming NFL Draft class, which includes some intriguing options for Denver should they find a way to trade up. The Broncos have the 12th-overall pick in the 2024 NFL Draft, but all three of Caleb Williams, Drake Maye and Jayden Daniels could be gone by then. If one is available late in the first round, it wouldn't be surprising if Payton influences Denver to trade up.
If not via the NFL Draft, perhaps Denver can trade for Justin Fields, or even sign Kirk Cousins when free agency begins.