Russell Wilson Trade to Denver Broncos: A Look Back at His First Year
On February 24, 2023, Russell Wilson's trade from the Seattle Seahawks to the Denver Broncos was finalized, but the deal had been in the works for over a year. In February 2022, Wilson reportedly asked Seahawks ownership to fire head coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider. Wilson was convinced that those two were hindering his chances for success and even had a preferred coach in mind: Sean Payton.
Wilson reportedly asked Seattle ownership to fire beloved head coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider. A lawyer for Wilson denied that Wilson wanted Carroll and Schneider fired and wrote to The Athletic that the report was “entirely fabricated.” Wilson also denied the report soon after it was published.
Wilson's inaugural campaign in Denver was not successful. The Broncos, under the guidance of Geno Smith, Wilson's backup, lost their Week 1 game to the Seahawks and ended up with a 5-12 record, last in the AFC West. Wilson recorded 16 touchdowns in his career, a low, and passed for only 3,524 yards but had 11 interceptions. Nathaniel Hackett, the first-year head coach of the Broncos, was let go after 15 games.
The Athletic also detailed issues with Wilson's first season in Denver, with players, coaches, and staff members questioning some of the control the quarterback had. Examples included weekly private meetings with the offense held by Wilson, an office for Wilson located away from his teammates, play suggestions from Wilson that Hackett would add to the game plan, and personal staff members the quarterback was allowed to have in the team facility. Several team sources said Hackett typically relayed the play calls to Wilson with 20-25 seconds remaining on the 40-second play clock, but Wilson sometimes struggled to repeat the calls efficiently or offered too much instruction to teammates in the huddle.
Prior to the commencement of the 2022 season, Wilson relinquished his no-trade clause and accepted a five-year contract worth $245 million. Denver was his destination of choice, as he was confident that the Broncos could bring home championships, he told his new teammates.
The Broncos brought in Wilson in the expectation that he would solve their quarterback problems. However, being hit with massive dead money cap totals might make the Broncos unlikely to cut Wilson in 2023 or 2024, but his contract becomes easier to get out of in 2025 and beyond. The Denver Broncos have until the 2026 season to pick up the option on Wilson, or else they will have to release him and face a manageable $31 fee.
0. “Russell Wilson Denies Report He Asked Seahawks to Fire Coach Pete Carroll: ‘I Love Pete'” PEOPLE, 24 Feb. 2023, https://people.com/sports/russell-wilson-denies-asking-seattle-seahawks-ownership-to-replace-coach-pete-carroll-report/
1. “Russell Wilson asked Seahawks to fire Pete Carroll, John Schneider weeks before Broncos trade, per report” CBS Sports, 24 Feb. 2023, https://www.cbssports.com/nfl/news/russell-wilson-asked-seahawks-to-fire-pete-carroll-john-schneider-weeks-before-broncos-trade-per-report/
2. “Russell Wilson denies report he called for Pete Carroll's job in Seattle, lawyer says ‘entirely fabricated'” Fox News, 24 Feb. 2023, https://www.foxnews.com/sports/russell-wilson-denies-report-called-pete-carrolls-job-seattle-lawyer-says-entirely-fabricated
3. “Russell Wilson reportedly asked Seahawks to fire Pete Carroll for Sean Payton before he was traded to Broncos” Yahoo Sports, 24 Feb. 2023, https://sports.yahoo.com/russell-wilson-reportedly-asked-seahawks-to-fire-pete-carroll-for-sean-payton-before-he-was-traded-to-broncos-140611606.html
4. “Sources: Russell Wilson asked for Pete Carroll, Seahawks GM to be fired; QB denies report” The Athletic, 24 Feb. 2023, https://theathletic.com/4243182/2023/02/24/russell-wilson-pete-carroll-seahawks-request
5. “Russell Wilson denies report he wanted Seahawks to fire Pete Carroll, John Schneider” The Seattle Times, 24 Feb. 2023, https://www.seattletimes.com/sports/seahawks/russell-wilson-denies-report-he-wanted-seahawks-to-fire-pete-carroll-john-schneider
6. “Russell Wilson wanted Pete Carroll out, per report; QB denies” ESPN, 24 Feb. 2023, https://www.espn.com/nfl/story/_/id/35725577/russell-wilson-pushed-pete-carroll-firing-per-report
7. “Broncos Rumors: Russell Wilson ‘Sometimes Struggled to Repeat the Calls Efficiently'” Bleacher Report, 6 Feb. 2023, https://bleacherreport.com/articles/10066685-broncos-rumors-russell-wilson-sometimes-struggled-to-repeat-the-calls-efficiently
8. “Russell Wilson’s first year with Broncos: ‘Too much influence,’ too few wins in disorganized disaster” The Athletic, 24 Feb. 2023, https://theathletic.com/4238804/2023/02/24/russell-wilson-denver-broncos-influence-offense
9. “Russell Wilson Denies Rumor He Asked Seahawks to Fire Pete Carroll, John Schneider” Bleacher Report, 24 Feb. 2023, https://bleacherreport.com/articles/10066677-russell-wilson-denies-rumor-he-asked-seahawks-to-fire-pete-carroll-john-schneider