There's really nothing to worry about if you're Denver Broncos quarterback Russell Wilson. Not yet, at least.
Or is there?
The Denver Broncos signed free agent quarterback Jarrett Stidham back in March to a two-year deal worth $10 million. That's pretty good money for a backup and the multi-year commitment to a young player at the game's most important position is certainly not insignificant.
Back in March, Denver Broncos head coach Sean Payton made it pretty clear that signing Stidham was an important move for the team, and he also made it abundantly clear how highly the team thought of him, even saying they passed on chances to get guys that Payton had previously worked with or that they felt comfortable with to go after Stidham.
"“I think he's young, but I think he's someone that we had a good grade on coming out. We like the player. I think he played well in the two starts he had this year. If you study closely the San Francisco game, he’s smart at the line of scrimmage. There were a couple of directions really with that position and there were a handful of No. 2’s that either I have worked with, or we felt comfortable with. In this case, I think he’s a No. 2 whose arrow is moving in a direction where we feel like he can become an NFL starter in our league. The evaluation was pretty crystal clear for all of us. I think he's someone that's going to be great in the room. He's smart. Quietly, that was an important sign for us.”"- Sean Payton (via Broncos PR)
Payton would say later in the same press conference that Stidham was a "priority" for the Broncos to sign in free agency and you see the proof of that in the contract he received. Again, two years, $10 million in total money for a player who has appeared in five games in his entire NFL career thus far.
Peter King of NBC Sports wrote during free agency that he thought the Stidham signing was one of the more fascinating moves made in March.
"So now Payton buys him to be Russell Wilson’s backup, and nothing needs to be said to Wilson about it. If Wilson by midseason 2023 is having a similarly disastrous season to his first one in Denver, Payton won’t have to punt on the season. He’ll have an intriguing backup waiting in the wings. But Payton did not go hard after Stidham to put the pressure on Wilson. He considered his options as backup QB and thought he could play it safe for around the same money with an Andy Dalton type, or swing for the fences on a young prospect with significant upside. I like the logic."- Peter King
King is not the only talking head who has hyped up the Jarrett Stidham signing, either. His colleagues at NBC Sports -- Mike Florio and Chris Simms -- talked about the Stidham move around the same time and they see the move in a similar light as King: One with upside but also that Payton might be able to change course on the season if Russell Wilson struggles again in 2023.
Of course, nobody is hoping for that, but unlike last year, the Broncos aren't putting all of their eggs in one basket. It's not just that certain people view Stidham in a positive light around the league, it's that Sean Payton sees him as someone who can come in and play and someone who is trending up as a young quarterback. Is he a threat to Russell Wilson, though?
Not immediately, but Wilson will undoubtedly have to perform with Stidham looming just behind him.
Lately, there seem to have been more rumblings and perhaps more confirmations that Russell Wilson isn't going to have the entire season to prove he can turn things around.
Peter Schrager of Good Morning Football and FOX Sports made some really interesting comments about the Broncos' QB situation on GMFB the other day. He worked with Sean Payton at FOX and said that Payton is "all-in" on Russell Wilson, but...
So for the time being, Russ has nothing to worry about...until he does. Stidham is waiting in the wings. Sean Payton is likely going to be relentless every single practice, and Russell Wilson is going to have to bring a high level of intensity and consistency every single day to prevent the team from pulling the plug and going in the direction of Stidham.
The smoke has been out there regarding Stidham for a while now. Payton himself fanned the flame quite a bit in March. Stidham's arrival in Denver could be exactly what Russell Wilson needs to be pushed from within his own QB room.