Dan Orlovsky Criticizes Denver Broncos' 'Classless' Treatment of Russell Wilson

Broncos' decision on Wilson stirs controversy in NFL circles.

by Nouman Rasool
Dan Orlovsky Criticizes Denver Broncos' 'Classless' Treatment of Russell Wilson
© Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

ESPN NFL analyst Dan Orlovsky sharply criticized the Denver Broncos' treatment of their quarterback Russell Wilson during his appearance on "Get Up" this Friday. Orlovsky described the franchise's approach as both "unprofessional" and "classless," stirring up further controversy in an already tumultuous season for the Broncos.

Orlovsky's comments come in the wake of a surprising announcement by the Broncos on Wednesday.

The team decided to bench Wilson, a key player, for the season's final two games, opting instead for Jarrett Stidham. This move raised eyebrows, especially since the Broncos, with a current record of 7-8, still maintain a slim chance of reaching the playoffs.

The decision's financial implications are significant. Albert Breer of Monday Morning Quarterback provided insight into the matter, explaining that the Broncos owe Wilson a whopping $39 million in guarantees for 2024. Should Wilson stay on and fail to pass a physical by early March, the Broncos would be obligated to pay him an additional $37 million for 2025.

This scenario presents a strong incentive for the team to keep Wilson in top health. If the Broncos choose to release Wilson after this season, they would incur dead money charges amounting to $85 million over the next two years.

Wilson Confirms Benching Talks

Wilson himself confirmed that the team had approached him about benching him if he didn't renegotiate his $37 million guarantee. Speaking to ESPN, he expressed his frustration and disappointment, emphasizing the challenges he faced continuing to play under these circumstances.

While the financial aspects are clear, Orlovsky emphasized that trying to alter Wilson's contract is not an acceptable way to conduct business in the NFL. Wilson, aged 35, has had an impressive season statistically, throwing for 3,070 yards with 26 touchdowns and eight interceptions, maintaining a 66.4% passing rate.

He currently ranks as the NFL's seventh-rated passer with a 98.0 rating. Broncos head coach Sean Payton, speaking after Friday's practice, insisted that the decision to bench Wilson was purely based on a desire to win. Payton distanced himself from the financial discussions, stating his focus was strictly on football and that any questions regarding the contract or financial discussions should be directed to the front office.

Payton acknowledged the difficult nature of the decision but reiterated his belief that it was made in the team's best interest to pursue their eighth win. He clarified that the benching was based solely on giving the Broncos the best chance to win, dismissing any other speculated reasons.

This development adds another layer of complexity to the Broncos' season, underscoring the often intricate interplay between financial strategy and team management in the high-stakes world of NFL football.

Denver Broncos Russell Wilson