BRONCOS

NFL numbers guru thinks the Broncos are making a mistake if they cut Russell Wilson

Feb 8, 2024, 5:23 PM | Updated: 5:23 pm

LAS VEGAS — Russell Wilson was better than the film revealed, at least in the eyes of longtime DVOA and NFL statistical guru Aaron Schatz.

Which is why he knows what he would do if he were guiding the Broncos.

“Keep Russell Wilson and not swallow all that money on my cap!” Schatz said Thursday when he dropped by at Super Bowl LVIII Radio Row.

But that being said, it’s not a reasonable, realistic option.

“It’s pretty clear bridges have been burned. He’s not coming back,” Schatz said. “They’re going to figure out a way to release him. It’s going to be a gigantic cap hit swallowed. But it’s pretty clear that it’s coming from personality reasons.”

RUSSELL WILSON AND THE NUMBERS

Schatz was one of the co-founders of Football Outsiders, whose team-based DVOA — defensive-adjusted value over average — metrics have become one of the most essential tools in statistical analysis of the sport. Those rankings now live at FTNFantasy.com/DVOA.

What individual DVOA reveals on Wilson is mixed.

In individual passing DVOA, Russell Wilson ranked 24th among 36 quarterbacks who had at least 200 attempts last season. But Wilson ranked seventh in rushing DVOA among 33 quarterbacks with at least 20 attempts. Put those together, and you have a quarterback who was mid-tier.

This also reflects in his EPA (expected points added) per-play figure, which was 18th of 30 eligible quarterbacks, and his success rate, which was 20th of 30. In 2022, Wilson ranked 25th and 29th in those categories, respectively.

So, that shows the marked improvement he had with Sean Payton.

“I mean, I thought he was better than people thought he was,” Schatz said. “The numbers are not as sad as sort of the way people watched. It seems like his bad games were timed to national television.”

However …

“It really doesn’t matter what I think about, because it’s pretty clear they’re moving on, right? So, we can talk about, ‘Oh, was Russell Wilson better than people said he was?’ It doesn’t matter. They’re not keeping him,” Schatz said.

“They’re moving on to the next thing. I just don’t know what the next thing is going to be.”

And it’s possible that the “next thing” isn’t any better — while resulting in the Broncos paying more at the quarterback position, since they’ll have to absorb a massive dead-money charge — north of $80 million over two years if the Broncos cut Wilson with a post-June 1 designation.

“[Perhaps] you get a caretaker like a Ryan Tannehill or something. Is that really better than Russell Wilson? I mean, the highs are not as high and the lows are not as low,” Schatz said. “So, yay, the lows are not as low, but the highs are not as high.

“And the overall performance [of] Russell Wilson, even though he does dumb stuff sometimes, is better than Ryan Tannehill. So the weird thing is, I think what I would do is just keep Wilson for one more year.”

But there appears to be no momentum toward that happening.

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NFL numbers guru thinks the Broncos are making a mistake if they cut Russell Wilson