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Broncos QB Jarrett Stidham on taking over for benched Russell Wilson: 'I've always had a lot of confidence'

Wednesday's benching of Russell Wilson thrust Jarrett Stidham into an unusual spot that he's experienced before.

A year after taking over for a benched Derek Carr in Las Vegas, Stidham relieves Wilson with two games left in the regular season. The situations are near mirror images, with the teams trying to avoid serious injury that could turn portions of a contract into guarantees as they look to move on from a high-priced veteran quarterback. Stidham happens to be the next man in line in both situations.

"I've always had a lot of confidence in myself," Stidham told reporters on Wednesday, via the team's official website. "That's never wavered or anything."

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In his first start replacing Carr last year, Stidham tore through a good San Francisco 49ers defense in a Raiders 37-34 loss. The QB threw for 365 yards with three TDs and two INTs for a 108.1 passer rating. His second start wasn't as great, tossing 219 yards with a touchdown and an interception in a 31-13 loss to Kansas City.

But the experience of replacing the starter gives the 27-year-old comfort heading into Sunday's game against the Los Angeles Chargers.  

"I don't think I need to overthink it," Stidham said. "Just do what I'm coached to do. We have a great staff and a great group of guys around me. I'm just going to do my job to the best of my ability, do the certain things that I need to do on each and every play and move the ball down the field and hopefully score a lot of points and get a win."

While admitting financials were part of the equation in benching Wilson, Broncos head coach Sean Payton said on Wednesday that he wanted to give Stidham a chance to "spark" an offense that has been a malaise all season. Payton added he's "anxious" to see Stidham play.

"It's significant," Payton said of the opportunity for Stidham. "And I think, look, he understands it. He came here to compete. These guys are competitive by nature, and they haven't gotten to this level without that confidence in themselves. He's going to want to play well. That's the trait most of these players at this level in our league have."

Stidham signed a two-year contract with Denver this offseason, which includes a $4.49 million base salary and $7 million cap hit in 2024. If he balls out the next two weeks, that would be exceedingly cheap for a potential starter. Given what it would cost on the cap to cut Wilson in the offseason, Stidham's play in the final two games could prove to be a massive part of the calculus and help explain why Payton is anxious to see the QB in his offense.

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