The biggest winners and losers from Russell Wilson’s contract

The Denver Broncos gave Russell Wilson a massive extension, which is both good and bad for various parties across the NFL landscape.

The Denver Broncos already illustrated their commitment to Russell Wilson by inheriting the rest of his contract with the Seattle Seahawks, but they solidified their intent today when they signed Wilson to a five-year, $245 million deal with $165 million guaranteed.

This keeps Wilson in Denver for the next seven years to the tune of $296 million, which means the 33-year-old will be playing there until he’s at least 40 years old.

The move is both a big win and a major loss, depending on the perspective. The Broncos have finally found a true franchise quarterback for the next seven years, although that will make the competition steeper in the AFC West.

Here are some of the winners and losers from Wilson’s impressive deal.


Russell Wilson

There’s not much to say beyond the fact that Wilson is exactly where he wants to be. Yes, his catchphrase may not be catching on in the way that he hoped, but his desire to get out of Seattle and start anew à la Tom Brady has worked out fairly well so far.

The signing makes Wilson the second-highest paid quarterback by AAV, only second to Aaron Rodgers. With Rodgers soon on his way out of the league and assuming Brady is now on his victory lap, Wilson has the talent and the team to become one of the league’s leading passers.

In truth, Wilson has been a talented passer for the past decade, but a lot of that has begun to go under the radar league-wide because the Seahawks have been relatively inconsistent at the playoff level. The Broncos may be able to let Russ cook deep into the postseason in a way Seattle just couldn’t pull off in recent years.

Denver Broncos

Finally, a quarterback.

The Denver Broncos can breathe a sigh of relief. There have been highs and lows with this team over the past two decades, and the highs have only come when the team has a capable passer.

John Elway and Peyton Manning brought these teams to Super Bowl victories, even in the twilight of their careers. For the Broncos to have Wilson for the next seven, coupled with the team they’ve carefully built, means that Denver hit the lottery in this trade.

Drew Lock, a second-round pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, is sitting out behind Geno Smith in Seattle now. That’s how desperate the Broncos have been for a decent passer.

Wilson assuages any woes the Broncos previously faced, enlivening their offense and taking the team to pre-2016 heights.

NFL quarterbacks

Every big signing is a win for fellow NFL quarterbacks — well, not the ones who already signed.

All jokes aside, Wilson’s contract makes it easier for the next quarterback to sign a major deal and get paid. It does depend on the situation — Lamar Jackson doesn’t have the same resume as Wilson — but the overall trend is still clear. Mahomes got a historic deal in KC; Rodgers recently went high with the AAV to remain in Green Bay.


The AFC West

Wilson’s confirmation that he’s here to stay in the division doesn’t bode well for its fellow members. The AFC West have been talked about all offseason as the toughest division in football, and now, all four of its teams have serious franchise quarterbacks. The Las Vegas Raiders have made key upgrades, as have the Los Angeles Chargers, and the Kansas City Chiefs have reigned as the division-winner since 2016.

Wilson is 33, Derek Carr is 31, Patrick Mahomes is 26, and Justin Herbert is 24. As long as Wilson is here, which is now for the next seven years, so will his rival AFC West counterparts.

Wilson has a veteran presence that, coupled with the Broncos’ crop of receivers and solid defense, could pose quite a threat to an oft-overlooked team in recent years.

Kansas City Chiefs

The AFC West team most threatened by Wilson’s presence would be the Kansas City Chiefs.

When Peyton Manning came into the Broncos building, he took the Broncos to four straight divisional titles. After Manning retired, the ownership ceded to the Chiefs, who have conquered the division since 2016.

Wilson’s extended presence in the division could certainly make it more difficult for the Chiefs to remain unchallenged on top. At the very least, the two annual Broncos games on the schedule are no longer the easy wins they once seemed. In fact, a loss to Denver here or there could have a ripple effect in playoff standings down the line. Wilson made the playoffs nearly every year in Seattle, so bringing that to the AFC West would be toughest on the perennial AFC West champion.

Cleveland Browns

Even though Wilson signed a historic deal, somehow, he still doesn’t have the most guaranteed money in the NFL.

That record still belongs to Deshaun Watson, the Cleveland Browns quarterback who will be suspended until Week 12.

In short, Wilson’s position as the quarterback with the third-most guaranteed money in the league adds further context to the unbelievable deal that the Browns drew up with Watson. There were other teams jockeying to land Watson, yet there have been two subsequent contracts who still didn’t offer that kind of guarantee. This, coupled with the fact that the Browns guaranteed pay for a player that many believe should no longer play in the NFL, reinforces the notion that the Browns are “morally bankrupt.”

The Browns have admitted time and time again that they have handled things poorly in regards to Watson. But money speaks louder than words, so the fact that Watson continues to have the most guaranteed money sends a clear message on how the Browns are willing to look past the harm he’s caused.

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