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Broncos head coach Sean Payton: 'Final decision hasn't been made' on Russell Wilson

Russell Wilson's benching for the season's final two weeks was viewed as the precursor to a divorce, but on Tuesday, Denver Broncos head coach Sean Payton insisted the door isn't closed on a possible return, saying that no decision has been made.

"Look, I think when we get back and we begin this process of looking at our roster, where we select, there's so many things that go into a decision specific to the quarterback, which is significant obviously, so it's too early at all," Payton said. "I spent half an hour with Russ yesterday, and I told him, I said, 'Look, I don't think it's going to be a long, drawn-out process, but it hasn't been decided relative to what our plans are.' But as soon as we know something, certainly, he would be the first to know."

The Broncos benched Wilson for the final two weeks in part to avoid financial complications that could have arisen if the QB suffered a significant injury. Wilson has a $37 million injury guarantee for 2025 that becomes fully guaranteed in March. If the Broncos want to avoid that guarantee, they'll move on from Wilson in the coming months.

Despite the perception that the Wilson era is over, Payton was adamant Tuesday no firm decision has been made.

"Yeah, listen, otherwise it would have been like 'Hey, goodbye.' I said that I think to you guys way back when," he said. "We'll look at all the scenarios and try to do what's best for the Broncos. But communication will be important, and that final decision hasn't been made."

After Wilson's benching, it became public that the Broncos sought to restructure Wilson's contract during the club's Week 9 bye week.

On Tuesday, general manger George Paton confirmed the club did speak to Wilson's agent about the contract situation but said the Week 17 benching was independent of that discussion.

"During the bye week, I did reach out to Russ' agent in good faith and create an attempt to adjust his contract," Payton said. "We couldn't get a deal done, moved on with our season, didn't come up again. Fast forward [to] Week 17, Sean makes a change at the quarterback position. This was a football decision made by Sean, what he thought was in the best interest of the team. This was completely independent of any conversations I had with the agent. It was a football decision made by Sean. In regards to the negotiations, I'll just keep the negotiations private."

The Broncos went 1-1 with Jarrett Stidham as the starter to finish the season 8-9.

Despite the insistence from the Broncos brass that Wilson returning remains an option, the nine-time Pro Bowler sticking in Denver at this point would be more surprising than his late-season benching.

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