Russell Wilson: Denver Broncos QB blames benching on refusing to restructure his contract

Denver Broncos quarterback Russell Wilson, who was benched by the team this week, believes the move has been brewing for two months due to his refusal to restructure his contract.

Broncos head coach Sean Payton has insisted that the change at QB is strictly a football decision, despite reports suggesting the team have given serious thought to shutting Wilson down for the final two games of the season, to avoid injury, given his contract situation.

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

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“We beat the Chiefs,” Wilson said. “They came up to me during the bye week, Monday or Tuesday, and 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… 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 [Players’ Association] and NFL got involved or whatever at some point.”

Wilson added: “It definitely hurt. It was a low blow for a bit.

“I came here for a reason, and that’s to win more championships. That’s still my focus to this day.

“I’m under contract. I want to do whatever it takes, and that’s why I’m going to practice the right way and do everything the right way.”

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Wilson is assured of receiving $39m 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 $37m 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. I never play timid. I never play scared.

“I love this game. I love this team. I love the team-mates that I’ve got, too. It’s a disappointing thing, for sure [being benched]. It’s definitely been tough on me.”

Broncos general manager George Paton and owner/chief executive 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],” Payton said. “I’m handling the football.

“The number one 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 at quarterback 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.

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

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