No surprise: Broncos aren’t picking up fifth-year option on Zach Wilson

May 1, 2024, 1:29 PM | Updated: 6:51 pm

Zach Wilson was not brought necessarily in for a long time — and that became clear when the Denver Broncos selected Bo Nix with the No. 12 overall pick.

So, it comes as no surprise that the Broncos did not pick up the fifth-year option on the quarterback, who was selected with the No. 2 overall pick in in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft.

That option would have been worth a cap charge of $22.408 million.

ESPN first reported the decision.

Teams that trade for former first-round picks while still on their rookie contracts also inherit the fifth-year option. For example, after trading for 2019 Broncos first-round pick Noah Fant in the Russell Wilson swap of 2022, the Seahawks picked up Fant’s option for 2023. They subsequently re-signed him to a multi-year extension earlier this year.


This doesn’t mean the Broncos are down on Zach Wilson, whose acquisition was a few weeks in coming.

“We were really happy to bring Zach here,” Sean Payton said last week. “There was no specific timing, that just took a little bit of time. In other words, George (Paton) and Joe (Douglas) with the Jets have been working on that. So it wasn’t a smokescreen.

“… We knew we wanted to add into the room, and I think I said that much even at the owner’s meetings. We really liked that opportunity.”

The Broncos were in the mix for some other quarterbacks in March, but ultimately, saw a combination of untapped potential and contract value in Zach Wilson. The Jets picked up half of Wilson’s salary for 2024.

“There were a number of veteran backups that signed contracts, and yet we saw talent with a player that just three years ago was the No. 2 pick in the draft,” Payton said. “We really like his traits.”

“… Bill (Parcells) taught me a long time ago, ‘Just let them play.’ We have to maximize the reps that we have, and let them develop, and that stuff will sort itself out.”


Sean Payton Broncos under wins...

Will Petersen

At least one expert has the Broncos going under 5.5 wins in 2024

The Athletic's Vic Tafur published his prediction for each team, and despite going 8-9 a season ago, he has the Broncos taking a step back

1 day ago

Broncos QB Bo Nix...

Andrew Mason

Bo Nix described by teammates as ‘really mature’ and having ‘an aura about himself’

The maturity of Broncos first-round pick Bo Nix has jumped out to veteran teammates like Courtland Sutton and Zach Allen.

2 days ago

Sean Payton...

Jake Shapiro

Sean Payton dunks on Colts after his famous play is outlawed

Sean Payton called an onside kick in the Super Bowl, an exciting play and a decision that sticks as a famous one for the Broncos coach

2 days ago

Peyton Manning Tom Brady...

Will Petersen

Peyton Manning surprised Tom Brady at his Patriots HOF induction

Tom Brady definitely didn't know Peyton Manning was going to be there, and there's a great moment when Mike Tirico brought out No. 18

2 days ago

Andre Smith...

Andrew Mason

Broncos add a seven-year veteran to their inside linebacker corps

One day after concluding minicamp, the Broncos chose to add to their ILB room, bringing in Andre Smith, who was most recently with the Falcons.

2 days ago

Jarrett Stidham and Bo Nix Broncos QB...

Andrew Mason

Jarrett Stidham will gather Broncos QBs, WRs, RBs and TEs for extra work

In the tradition of recent Denver Broncos QBs, Jarrett Stidham will gather teammates for throwing sessions during the offseason downtime.

2 days ago

No surprise: Broncos aren’t picking up fifth-year option on Zach Wilson