Broncos players say Russell Wilson benching came ‘out of nowhere,’ QB gave ‘everything he had’


All indications are that Russell Wilson has played his last football for the Broncos. But some of the quarterback’s teammates are still processing his late-year benching, telling ESPN it came “out of nowhere” and frustrated a sizable portion of the locker room.

“It was a surprise to everybody in the locker room,” wide receiver Jerry Jeudy said of Wilson’s demotion. “(Coach Sean Payton) just told us out of nowhere.”

Specifically, per ESPN, Payton addressed the team on Dec. 27, three days after Denver lost to the Patriots in Week 16 to fall to 7-8 on the season. Wilson publicly alleged that the Broncos threatened to bench him earlier in 2023 if he didn’t adjust an injury guarantee in his contract, but Payton has insisted the QB change was purely to provide a “spark” for a struggling offense.

Regardless, the move left certain players upset after Wilson gave “everything he had” in 2023, an unidentified veteran told ESPN. A number of others were apparently “pissed” on behalf of the QB, who served as the backup in the final two games of the season.

Russell Wilson profile

Moving forward, Wilson is expected to be released ahead of 2024 free agency, as Denver can avoid paying the QB a $37 million roster bonus by designating him a post-June 1 cut in early March. Originally acquired in a blockbuster trade with the Seahawks ahead of the 2022 season, the longtime Seattle standout went just 11-19 as the Broncos’ starter over two seasons.