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Russell Wilson reveals Broncos approached him about contract during bye week

Russell Wilson's benching surprised many this week, but not Wilson.

He'd known it might be possible since the end of October. Wilson spoke with media members Friday and said the Broncos approached him with a demand entering their Week 9 bye.

"Yeah, we beat the Chiefs, they came up to me during the bye week, beginning of the bye week, Monday or Tuesday, and they told me that if I didn't change my contract, my injury guarantee, that I'd be benched for the rest of the year," Wilson explained, via Troy Renck of Denver7. "And we had nine games left or so. I was definitely disappointed about it, and it was a process throughout the whole week, for the whole bye week."

Wilson declined to change his contract and continued playing, helping the Broncos win three straight after the bye week, propelling Denver from irrelevance into the playoff hunt. Since then, they've lost three of their last four, watching their postseason hopes dwindle.

With two games left to play, Denver has decided to make the change at quarterback, benching Wilson this week for Jarrett Stidham and forcing Wilson to process sudden uncertainty regarding his future.

"You know I want to be here, I want to play here, I want to be able to win here, I want to win championships here, I want to give my all every week, no matter what the circumstances are, no matter what the score is, and I want to be the best teammate and leader that I can be in the midst of it all," Wilson said. "So that's why I was out here at practice every day, and told Jarrett I'd help him and lead and do whatever it takes to keep the guys going on and try to lead the right way. That's all I know."

Wilson's contract is set to balloon in terms of value and cap number over the next few years, starting with a $13.4 million jump in 2024. From there, it increases as high as $58.4 million in 2026, which would be Wilson's age-38 season.

Denver hasn't seen the production they anticipated when they acquired Wilson in a blockbuster deal prior to the 2022 season, and coach Sean Payton wasn't with the club when they made the deal. If Wilson doesn't fit Payton's future plans, the time is now to consider an alternative route.

Protecting the franchise financially would quickly become a priority in such a scenario, which seems to be Denver's new reality, leaving Wilson to wonder whether he has a future with the Broncos at all.

"I don't know to this day, to be honest with you," Wilson said. "I want to be (here). But I don't know, and I didn't know several weeks ago what that would look like either, but 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, and 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."

Wilson admitted he felt he shouldn't have to surrender his injury guarantee in his contract because he's played 12 years and has come to understand the physical nature of football and how it can affect a player's earning power. That unwillingness could spell an abrupt end to his time in Denver, where the Broncos will enter 2024 with plenty to sort out.

In the meantime, Wilson will spend the final two weeks on the sideline.

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