BRONCOS

Russell Wilson to the … Raiders? An NFL team exec predicts that to happen

Jan 24, 2024, 11:33 AM | Updated: 11:37 am

Could Russell Wilson stay in the AFC West?

One NFL team executive predicts precisely that, according to a report from ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler.

And with Patrick Mahomes and Justin Herbert entrenched with the Kansas City Chiefs and Los Angeles Chargers, respectively, that leaves only one possibility for Russell Wilson within the division: the Broncos’ longtime rivals in silver and black, now based in Las Vegas.

“[The Raiders] need a vet, and they are one of Wilson’s original teams he wanted to go to,” an NFC executive told Fowler.

But there’s more to Russell Wilson becoming a Raider than that, the unnamed executive said.

“He’d stay in the [AFC West], West Coast, and [Wilson’s wife] Ciara can do a [Las Vegas] residency [as a live performer],” the executive said.

Should the Broncos move on from Russell Wilson — as expected — one of the potential candidates could be current Raiders quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo. He started the season opener in Denver, guiding the Raiders to a 17-16 win. But injuries sent him to the sideline, and by the time he returned to health, the Raiders had rookie Aidan O’Connell in the lineup.

O’Connell started 10 games in his rookie campaign, including the final nine in succession. That included the Raiders’ 27-14 season-ending win over the Broncos, in which he outdueled another understudy-turned-starter, Denver’s Jarrett Stidham.

As for Garoppolo, he posted a 77.7 passer rating and a 33.9 QBR over six 2023 starts for the Raiders. Both figures were the lowest of his career for any season in which he started at least one game.

Like Wilson’s contract, Garoppolo’s deal comes with a significant dead-money hit for the Raiders — although the $28.3 million figure is a relative ebb tide compared to the $85 million tsunami confronting the Broncos with Wilson’s contract. The Raiders can further dilute the damage to their 2024 cap by spreading the hit over two years.

Signing Wilson would likely come with a minimal cap figure for any other team, as Wilson’s contract contains offset language. So, effectively, Wilson could maintain the base salary given to him by the Broncos with his new team giving him a league-minimum contract.

And one can only imagine the reception that would await Wilson in Denver if he returns in silver and black.

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