Broncos decision on Russell Wilson just became substantially easier

The NFL salary cap increase has changed the discussion on Russell Wilson significantly

Russell Wilson, Denver Broncos
Russell Wilson, Denver Broncos / Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
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The Denver Broncos have had a major decision to make about Russell Wilson looming large as the offseason finally gets underway. Wilson's contract is just about to kick in this offseason with $39 million in cash guaranteed for 2024 and $37 million guaranteed for 2025 if he's on the roster by March 17.

The Broncos are expected to release Wilson at some point before March 17 according to 9News Broncos Insider Mike Klis. The NFL's recent salary cap hike from $224M to roughly $255.4 million has made the team's decision substantially easier. Although the Broncos still owe Wilson $39 million this year, the unexpected rise in the salary cap has changed things considerably.

Parker Gabriel of the Denver Post outlined it perfectly:

With the NFL's overall salary cap rise, the Broncos went from being almost $25 million over the salary cap to being around $10 million over the cap. But their available cap space really isn't altered by Russell Wilson's current deal. The team will have dead money on the cap with zero savings if/when he's released.

Now, we have to determine which way the Broncos will go about it. The dead cap percentage of 20.8 percent if the Broncos eat $53 million this year and $35.4 million next year might be the way to go. It would allow the team to eat the biggest portion of dead cap right away while also owing Wilson $39 million in cash.

By the 2025 offseason, the salary cap will go up again. The percentage of the $35.4 million next offseason will dwindle even further than the 13.9 percent it would account for 2024. The salary cap will undoubtedly increase again in 2025, meaning the Broncos could free up $37 million in cash and have a much lower percentage of dead cap in 2025 if they do the difficult thing and eat the larger portion in 2024.

And previously, the option of the salary cap rising to $255.4 million was an unknown possibility. It is such a substantial increase that although the decision to cut Russell Wilson won't be taken lightly, it's a much easier pill to swallow.

If the Broncos want to move on as quickly as possible, that might be the way to do it. Eating the entire $85 million of the dead cap in 2024 doesn't seem like the wisest move because at 33.1 percent of the overall salary cap pie, the Broncos would be extremely limited in making any additions to the roster this year whatsoever.

Taking the 20.8 percent allows the team to backload some contracts this offseason if they want, or at least push some money to 2025 when they will have even more space available.

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It might not seem like it at first glance, but the NFL's salary cap increase has really given the Broncos an added level of salary cap freedom when it comes to keeping other players around if they so choose. They will still have to do some salary cap gymnastics, but not at an Olympic level.

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