Report: NFLPA threatened legal action over Russell Wilson contract

Field Level Media

December 31, 2023 at 8:12 pm.

Issues surrounding the contract of benched Denver Broncos quarterback Russell Wilson have drawn the attention of the NFL Players Association.

The Washington Post reported Sunday that the NFLPA threatened litigation over the team’s request earlier this season that Wilson agree to adjust the injury guarantee portion of his contract or face benching. Per the report, the association sent the Broncos a letter in November that said the team’s intention violated the collective bargaining agreement and could force the NFLPA to initiate arbitration or a lawsuit.

The letter, signed by NFLPA attorney Jeffrey Kessler, was dated Nov. 4 and addressed to the Broncos and the NFL’s management council.

“It has come to our attention that the Denver Broncos recently informed Mr. Wilson and his Certified Contract Advisor that if Mr. Wilson would not renegotiate his Player Contract to relinquish certain salary guarantees, the Broncos would remove him from the starting lineup,” the NFLPA wrote in the letter, which was obtained by The Post.

The letter continued: “If the Broncos follow-through on the Club’s threat, the Club will violate, among other things, the Collective Bargaining Agreement, Mr. Wilson’s Player Contract and New York law. And, we are particularly concerned that the Broncos still intend to commit these violations under the guise of ‘coaching decisions.’ ”

That coaching decision apparently was made this week, with coach Sean Payton announcing Jarrett Stidham would replace Wilson, 35, at quarterback for the Broncos (7-8) for Sunday’s game against the Los Angeles Chargers (5-10).

The Post said it was not clear on Sunday whether the association plans to follow through with legal action or arbitration now that the change has been made.
Wilson will be paid $37 million in the offseason should he be injured.

Payton said last week that the shift to Stidham was related to trying to win games and not a contract issue on his part.

Wilson’s performance has been underwhelming since he was acquired in a trade that sent two first-round draft picks – and more — to the Seahawks before the 2022 season. A nine-time Pro Bowl selection and a Super Bowl winner with Seattle, Wilson is 11-19 as Denver starter.

Should he be released this offseason, Wilson would cost the Broncos $85 million against the salary cap.