The Denver Broncos traded quite a bit to get Russell Wilson in the orange and blue. So far, it hasn’t worked. What if he is actually washed up? This would be the absolute worst-case scenario for the Denver Broncos and the fanbase. Trading for Russell Wilson nine months ago seemed like the move of the offseason.
Now, 10 weeks into his first season with the team, it looks like the worst move of the offseason. We won’t truly know if Russell Wilson is truly washed, I don’t think until what seems to be the main culprit for failure is let go. Nathaniel Hackett and the staff he assembled, especially on offense, have proven to not be compatible with what Wilson does as a quarterback.
It appears that Hackett has blended multiple offenses together to try and include some things he used while in Green Bay and what Wilson did in Seattle. Depending on who you talk to, some might say that they do believe in the 11th-year quarterback is washed up.
Others might believe that Nathaniel Hackett is the main issue, and hiring a competent head coach may help Wilson return to his previous form. Well, if Wilson is indeed past his prime and on the decline, how can the Broncos get the most out of the player?
How can Denver get the most out of Russell Wilson if he’s lost some skill?
Well, if you’re that much of a pessimist, the first thing you can look at is the recent contract extension he signed with the Broncos. How early can the team relieve themselves of that if Wilson’s best days are behind him? Well, according to overthecap.com, the absolute earliest the team could get out of his contract would be in 2025, when the team would have to eat a bit over $18 million in dead money, but they would save $37 million on their cap space.
So, the team will be riding with Russell Wilson for at least four seasons, through his age-37 season. In that timeframe, if Denver is already looking for an out, the most important thing they need to do to maximize what he has left is to bring in a coach who has shown an ability to get production out of either Wilson himself or veteran quarterbacks.
Two of those people are Frank Reich, who has gotten production out of a few veteran quarterbacks who appeared way past their best days, or Brian Schottenheimer, his offensive coordinator in Seattle from 2018-2020, a three-year stretch where Wilson threw 106 touchdown passes against 25 interceptions.
Reich could be brought in as the head coach after this year if the team moves on from Hackett and Reich has an interest in taking another head coaching job. His work in getting decent production out of Jacoby Brissett, Carson Wentz, and Philip Rivers should raise some eyebrows.
None of those three that Reich has worked with are even close to being at the level of quarterbacking that Wilson is at, and in the cases of Wentz and Rivers, those two appeared to be washed up themselves, but Reich was able to give them a nice jolt.
George Paton needs to act as if he only has four years with Wilson and not seven or more like he probably originally thought. Sure, Wilson might end up turning his performance around and show an ability to play into his 30s, but Paton cannot take that chance.
This means being active in free agency signing high-quality talent and putting the best possible roster around Wilson. This also means continuing to perform well with future draft classes. If four years do pass, and Russell Wilson does not appear to be a viable quarterback anymore, then the Broncos can move on.
The Denver Broncos will be undergoing some serious changes between now and the 2023 season, given how the 2022 season has gone so far.
But, in the meantime, they should do the things listed above to get the most out of him.