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Russell Wilson Broncos
NFL

Is Russell Wilson The NFL’s Least Valuable Player?

  • Justin Melo
  • November 28, 2022
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Denver Broncos starting quarterback Russell Wilson was abysmal in Sunday’s 23-10 defeat to the Carolina Panthers. Wilson completed just 19-of-35 passing attempts for 142 yards and one touchdown. Wilson also lost a fumble. It represented a new low for Wilson in a season that’s been filled with dull moments and empty promises.

The defeat dropped the Broncos to 3-8. It was a lifeless performance against a Panthers franchise that is in contention for the No. 1 overall selection in the 2023 NFL Draft. Broncos defensive lineman Mike Purcell was captured getting visibly upset at Wilson on the sidelines during Sunday’s offensive debacle. It’s tough to argue with Purcell. Denver’s offense netted 246 total yards. They went 4-of-14 on third down, punted on seven occasions, and lost two fumbles.

Through 10 regular-season contests, Wilson has completed 198-of-336 passes for 2,369 yards, eight touchdowns, and five interceptions. Wilson’s 58.9% completion percentage is easily the lowest mark of his career. Wilson’s previous career-low completion percentage was 61.3% (2017).

Wilson is on pace to set career lows in various additional statistical categories. Wilson, who missed one game due to injury, is averaging less than one touchdown per contest. When extrapolating Wilson’s weekly average throughout the course of 16 games, Wilson is scheduled to finish the campaign with 13 touchdown passes (rounded up from 12.8). Wilson threw for a previous career low of 20 touchdowns as a third-year quarterback in 2014. Surprise, surprise, Wilson’s 7.1 yards per attempt also matches his career low.

The Broncos parted with two first-round selections, two second-round picks, a fifth-round pick, and three players in exchange for Wilson’s services. A team long viewed as being a quarterback away from legitimate postseason contention status, Denver’s line of thinking was appropriate when acquiring Wilson. It’s simply backfired in unfathomable fashion. Wilson is currently performing like a bottom-tier starting quarterback.

Broncos faithful has begun doing dead cap calculations on Wilson’s contract. For the record, the Broncos would inherit a sizable dead cap hit of $39 million if they designated Wilson as a post-June-1 release, per Spotrac. That number would increase to an unmanageable $68 million in 2024. Wilson signed a five-year, $245 million contract extension with the Broncos in September. The Broncos are stuck with Wilson for the foreseeable future.

Wilson hasn’t showcased chemistry alongside first-year head coach Nathaniel Hackett. It’s clear the two men aren’t a match. Broncos general manager George Paton will likely choose between Wilson and Hackett this offseason. Given the sizable financial commitment made to Wilson, paired with Hackett’s frequent coaching errors, Wilson will likely play for a new head coach next season.

The Broncos haven’t scored more than 23 points in a single game this season. They’ve been held to 11 or fewer points in four contests. Wilson’s Broncos are averaging a pathetic 14.8 points per contest.

Denver’s horror story is difficult to overstate. Rarely has an NFL franchise possessed such high expectations only to perform so poorly. Instead of being Super Bowl contenders, the Broncos would be in contention for the No. 1 selection in April’s draft…. that’s if the Seahawks didn’t own their selection as a result of the Wilson trade.

The Wilson trade currently represents an absolute nightmare for the Broncos. Denver’s grim hope for improvement likely lies with a new head coach in 2023, and a healthier Wilson, who has been playing through shoulder and hamstring injuries. Unless things change drastically, the Wilson move was the league-wide worst transaction of the offseason.

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Justin Melo