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By: Nick Burch
The Sean Payton-Russell Wilson era ended on a sour note for the Denver Broncos, and Payton’s former Super Bowl winning QB Drew Brees is not surprised
Some day, NFL historians will look back at the trade for and blind lucrative contract offering to QB Russell Wilson from the Denver Broncos and note it as one of the worst decisions, from both a financial and team-building perspective, of all time.
In two years as the supposed guy who would get the Broncos back to annual playoff contention, Wilson was abysmal in his first season, but was cut some slack due to the incompetence of his head coach, Nathaniel Hackett. This past season, under new coach Sean Payton, he was too limited to execute the playbook to its full potential and was relegated to game manager at best.
But who could have seen this coming? A nine-time pro bowler, a two-time Super Bowl QB (one-time winner but let’s not focus on that one) and someone who was considered a star in the league? Well, for one, future Hall-of-Famer Drew Brees.
“It kind of played out the way I thought it would, honestly,” Brees told NBC Sports’ Mike Florio and Chris Simms. “I think Russell has a skill set and I think Russell is still going to be able to go and have a great rest of his career elsewhere. As I watched them play this year, it didn’t feel like the timing, the rhythm, the tempo that I’m used to seeing in a Sean Payton offense. And I know those are the hallmarks of the offense. That’s the standard that’s been set.”
In 15 games this season, Wilson threw for just north of 3,000 yards on 447 passing attempts (66% completion rating) and 26 touchdowns to just eight interceptions. While certainly efficient, that roughly means he averaged about 200 yards passing per game, not exactly a guy who is earning his contract.
It should be noted that Wilson did play far better in his second year than his first, appeared to work harder in the offseason, and was able to utilize his legs once more to help his team in clutch situations. Still, for a guy with a $242 million contract? That ain’t cutting it, especially when considering how many open receivers he missed throughout the season.
Given that they are both shorter than the prototypical franchise QB, perhaps that similarity led many to believe Sean Payton could do for Wilson what he did for Brees, but unfortunately for the Broncos, Payton caught Brees at the perfect time. He caught Wilson just a bit too late.
Simms and Florio tried to twist Brees arm a bit into sharing inside information as to what Payton could do with the 12th draft, but he gave somewhat of a bureaucratic answer and said lots without saying much of all.
What does appear clear in Brees’ mind is that the team is going to be moving forward with a new QB in 2024, and the broken marriage between Wilson and Payton wasn’t an event that shocked him.
Thanks for the heads up, Drew!
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Originally posted on Mile High Report