When Deshaun Watson was traded to the Browns, he had four years left on his contract. The Browns ripped it up and gave him a massive, fully-guaranteed, five-year deal.
When Russell Wilson was traded to the Broncos, he had two years left on his contract. He still does.
Wilson makes a paltry (in comparison to the rest of the NFL’s franchise quarterback), $24 million this year. Next year, he’s on the books for $27 million.
He’ll surely have a new contract to replace the 2023 compensation package. Should he get one now, to replace the $24 million?
He seems to be in no rush, possibly because he knows that time is on his side. The price will go up, not down, as more deals are done and as the cap increases. However, waiting will require Wilson to play for $24 million this year, roughly half of Watson’s pre-suspension wages.
So should the Broncos do it now, or should they wait? Given the investment made in Wilson via trade assets, they’ll eventually have to give Wilson a market-level deal. If they do it now, it undoubtedly will be cheaper than if they wait until after the season.
This approach entails some risk for both sides. If Wilson is spectacular as the centerpiece of the Denver offense, the price goes up. If Wilson struggles, it becomes harder for his agent, Mark Rodgers, to advocate to make Wilson the highest-paid player in league history.
Hovering over the entire situation is the fact that the team soon will have a new owner. The easiest course for the Pat Bowlen trust would be to let the next owner figure it all out.
The next owner possibly would prefer to walk through the door with the situation resolved especially. After all, the best-case scenario for 2023 would be that Wilson plays as well as expected and becomes the highest-paid player in the league. The worst-case scenario for 2023 would be that Wilson falls short of the high bar and sets the stage for a potentially contentious negotiation as to his value as he enters the final year of his contract.