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Broncos GM: Russell Wilson Is 'Fixable' amid Struggles, Has Shown 'Flashes'

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured Columnist IVDecember 27, 2022

INGLEWOOD, CALIFORNIA - DECEMBER 25: Russell Wilson #3 of the Denver Broncos looks on before the game against the Los Angeles Rams at SoFi Stadium on December 25, 2022 in Inglewood, California. (Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images)
Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images

The Denver Broncos made the decision to fire head coach Nathaniel Hackett following a 4-11 start to the 2022 season, but it sounds as though the organization is sticking behind the struggling Russell Wilson.

"It's about the entire organization. It's not whether Russ is fixable or not," general manager George Paton told reporters on Tuesday. "We do believe he is. We do."

James Palmer @JamesPalmerTV

GM George Paton said they didn't fire Nathaniel Hackett because of Russell Wilson and his play. Paton said he does believe Wilson is "fixable" because they've seen "flashes"

The subtext in those comments is that Wilson has been so badd, he indeed needs to be fixed.

That has been one of the most surprising developments of the 2022 season, considering Wilson is a nine-time Pro Bowler and one the Broncos gave up multiple first- and second-round picks and players to acquire from the Seattle Seahawks before signing him to a five-year, $242.5 million extension.

But there's no doubt that the 34-year-old has been poor. In 13 games, he's thrown for 3,019 yards, 12 touchdowns and nine interceptions, completing just 60.1 percent of his passes while being sacked an NFL-worst 49 times. The Broncos are just 3-10 in his starts.

Spotrac @spotrac

Please understand that if you're talking about the <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Broncos?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Broncos</a> getting rid of Russell Wilson this offseason via release, it includes:<br><br>$107M of Dead Cap...<br>($39M in 2023, $68M in 2024)<br><br>...of which $67M is a cash payment.

Sam Monson @PFF_Sam

Trading Matt Ryan handed the Falcons the largest dead-cap hit in NFL history at just over $40m.<br><br>If the Broncos cut Russell Wilson at the start of the 2023 league year the dead cap hit would be $107m over the next two years!!!

So essentially, the Broncos are likely facing at least three more seasons with Wilson under center unless they are willing to eat huge amounts of dead cap.

Following Sunday's embarrassing 51-14 loss to the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday—the final nail in Hackett's coffin—Wilson told reporters he "let the team down" with his play after throwing three interceptions.

"I think a lot needs to happen, but number one is, I've got to play to the standard that I know how to play to," he added after being asked how to fix Denver's issues this season.

The 2022 campaign is a lost cause, with the team's playoff hopes long ago abandoned. Now, the most pressing question in Denver—outside of who the next head coach will be—is whether Wilson can return to the level of play he showcased in Seattle.

If not, the Broncos are saddled with a quarterback who is past his prime but expensive enough to make building and maintaining a strong roster around him extremely difficult.