Broncos would be fools to rush in and give Russell Wilson $250 million contract extension


All Broncos Country is Russell Wilson’s stage. With eager anticipation, a long-downtrodden franchise’s new savior ran on the field for his first day of training camp, anxious to win Super Bowl rings and build his brand (although not necessarily in that order).

We know DangeRuss is always ready for his next Instagram close-up, and there ain’t nothing wrong with that. But I’m more interested in his won-loss record with the Broncos than how Wilson enhances his brand by documenting the glorious details of his bougie life, from the streets of London to the team parking lot at Dove Valley.

Can Wilson honor the franchise’s championship history with a ‘fourth coming soon,” as this accomplished quarterback has vowed with a promise inscribed on his orange cleats?

That’s the $250 million question for the Broncos.

From the moment Denver invested heavily in Wilson, trading three NFL players and a pile of draft picks for the 33-year-old quarterback in March, we’ve all heard rumblings general manager George Paton should sign him to a big, fat contract extension ASAP, despite the fact that two seasons remain on Wilson’s current deal.

“I’d like to play the rest of my career here,” Wilson said Wednesday, when asked if there was urgency to get a new deal done.

Hey, we all expect this will be the beginning of a beautiful relationship between Wilson and the Broncos. The honeymoon has been hunky dory, although I’m not so certain fans have fully committed to falling in love again with a franchise that has repeatedly broken hearts of late.

Broncos Country, which has suffered through six seasons of often boring and bad football, sent Wilson and the team a not-so-subtle message on the opening day of camp:

Prove it.

While players, coaches and executives gush about the new juice within the building, the crowd for Wilson’s first practice open to the public was enthusiastic, but small, filling maybe half the space on the grassy berm overlooking the fields where drills took place for roughly 75 minutes. The team announced a crowd of 2,057, although that accounting seemed a bit generous to these eyes, which have borne witness to camp since 1984.

So at this point, what’s the rush to talk about a pile of money for Wilson, when new coach Nathaniel Hackett hasn’t fully installed his playbook and the Walton family ownership has yet to be formally approved? The Broncos would be fools to rush in and extend Wilson now.

“We all want Russell here for a long time,” said Paton, who wants to keep contract negotiations a private matter. “I have a really good relationship with Russ’ agent, Mark Rodgers, and at the right time, we’ll get a deal done.”

While Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers is worth every penny of his $50 million salary and Tom Brady is content to be the 16th highest-paid quarterback in the league because what he really values is a shot to win his eighth Super Bowl ring, what we’ve seen in the NFL quarterback marketplace this year ranges from desperation to madness.

Arizona recently gave Kyler Murray a whopping $46 million per season, despite the fact he has yet to win a playoff game and the Cardinals felt compelled to include a do-your-homework clause in the new contract. And the $230 million fully guaranteed deal Cleveland handed Deshaun Watson before he resolved the charges of sexual misconduct against him fell somewhere between recklessly irresponsible and downright offensive.

While the deals for Murray and Watson will shape the economic parameters for Wilson, mistakes by other NFL teams should not dictate contract terms for new Broncos owner Rob Walton.

Although the Baltimore Ravens and Lamar Jackson have been at loggerheads in contract talks as the 2019 league MVP approaches the final season of his contract, there seems to be little reason for Denver to act out of fear Jackson will wreck the salary structure for top-flight quarterbacks.

In Broncos Country, all that’s expected of Wilson is for him to uphold the championship legacy of Hall of Fame quarterbacks John Elway and Peyton Manning.

“I don’t get nervous,” Wilson said, without blinking an eye, much less cracking a smile.

So let Russ cook and prove he’s worth a quarter of a billion dollars.


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