Broncos Strategically Bench Russell Wilson, Unleashing Jarrett Stidham for the Final Stretch

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Bold Move in Denver

The Denver Broncos, though still in the playoff race, are shaking things up in the quarterback department with just two weeks left in the regular season. In a surprising twist, they’ve decided to bench Russell Wilson for the remaining games, raising eyebrows across the football landscape.

The Insider Scoop

According to NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport, the decision to sideline Wilson for the last two games stems from a strategic financial perspective. Sources close to the situation reveal that the Broncos aim to safeguard their financial flexibility, especially concerning Wilson’s $37 million injury guarantee for 2025, which fully becomes guaranteed in March.

Meet the New Starter

Jarrett Stidham is Stepping into the limelight, set to debut as the Broncos’ starting quarterback this Sunday against the Chargers. NFL Network Insider Tom Pelissero notes that although Wilson will be on the sidelines for Week 17, he’ll take the role of the No. 2 QB.

Financial Maneuver or Farewell?

The decision to bench Wilson isn’t a definitive farewell, but it’s a telling sign that the Broncos might be preparing for life without the 35-year-old quarterback in 2024. The late-season switch hints at a potential end to Wilson’s two-season journey with the team.

Page from the Raiders’ Playbook

Interestingly, this move mirrors the Las Vegas Raiders’ tactic last season with Derek Carr. The Raiders benched their starter in favor of then-backup Stidham, who now finds himself at the helm in Denver after joining the Mile High club this offseason.

Mixed Fortunes with Wilson

While Wilson has shown improvement under Coach Sean Payton compared to his shaky debut in 2022, recent offensive struggles have raised concerns. The Week 15 loss in Detroit, coupled with a sideline scolding from Payton, highlighted a rocky path for Wilson’s future in Denver.

Playoff Dreams Dashed

Despite overcoming a 1-5 start with a remarkable five-game win streak, the Broncos are teetering on the brink of playoff elimination. The recent loss to New England, the third in the last four games, has significantly diminished their postseason aspirations.

Statistical Downturn

In 15 starts this year, Wilson’s performance has been subpar, completing 66.44 percent of his passes for 3,070 yards—the fewest in 12 seasons. With 26 touchdown passes and eight interceptions, Wilson once hailed as the savior for Denver’s playoff hopes, now faces the disappointment of a potentially premature exit.

The Stidham Experiment

Coach Payton sees the final two weeks as an opportunity to evaluate Stidham’s potential. Stidham, who showcased promise with Vegas last season, will now aim to guide the Broncos to victories against the Chargers and Raiders, with the slim hope of postseason entry.

Glimpse into the Future

Benching Wilson isn’t just about the current season; it’s a strategic move signaling Payton’s readiness to assess the team for the 2024 season. As the coach continues to mold the roster to his liking, this decision might be a crucial step in shaping the Broncos’ future.

Conclusion

The Broncos’ decision to bench Russell Wilson adds a layer of intrigue to the final stretch of the 2023 season. Whether a financial maneuver or a farewell gesture, this move sets the stage for Jarrett Stidham to shine and for the Broncos to evaluate their quarterback options moving forward.

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