Sean Payton: ‘Not privy’ to Broncos’ contract talks with Russell Wilson

Field Level Media

December 30, 2023 at 4:55 am.

Denver Broncos quarterback Russell Wilson, who was sent to the bench this week, believes the move was brewing for two months due to his refusal to restructure his contract.

Broncos coach Sean Payton, meanwhile, insists that his change of signal-caller was strictly a football decision.

Wilson said Friday that team officials approached him with an ultimatum shortly the Broncos’ 24-9 win over the Kansas City Chiefs on Oct. 29.

“We beat the Chiefs,” Wilson said. “They came up to me during the bye week and beginning of the bye week, Monday or Tuesday, they told me if I didn’t change my contract, my injury guarantee, that I’d be benched the rest of the year.

“I was definitely disappointed about it. It was a process for the whole bye week. We had just come off beating the Chiefs, I was excited for us fighting for the playoffs and getting on a hot streak. The NFLPA and NFL got involved or whatever at some point.”

Wilson is assured of receiving $39 million next season regardless of whether he is still with the Broncos. Should he be unable to pass a physical next March, his 2025 pay of $37 million would be guaranteed, too.

“I wasn’t going to remove or push or take away my injury guarantee,” Wilson said. “This game is such a physical game. I’ve played 12 years. That matters to me.”

General manager George Paton and owner/CEO Greg Penner did not speak to the media on Friday, and Payton directed questions about Wilson’s contract to them.

“I’m not privy to any of those (discussions),” the coach said. “I’m handling the football. I know this. The No. 1 reason for taking this job for me was ownership and winning. Certainly, the tradition here mattered, relative to being at a place where it’s important, but that’s something George and the front office — I’m not involved in any of that. …

“My focus has been on winning, and I am going to go back to what I said at the beginning of the week. I know how this has been written, but this decision strictly is what I believe gives us a chance to win.”

Jarrett Stidham will take over under center on Sunday against the visiting Los Angeles Chargers as the Broncos (7-8) try to snap a slump that has seen them lose three of the past four games.

“He’s had a good week,” Payton said of Stidham. “I think he was sharp this week.”

Wilson is still shooting to regain his job.

“I want to be able to play, I want to be able to help this team win,” he said. “I know every time I step on the field it’s a physical game. I never play timid. I never play scared.”