Broncos coach Sean Payton gives blunt 1-word response when asked if it was difficult to release Russell Wilson

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Before the 2022 season began, Russell Wilson inked a five-year, $245 million extension with the Denver Broncos that was set to go into effect this season, but he was released by the team before that extension began.

When free agency opened up earlier this month, the Broncos released Wilson, and a few days later, he found a new home in Pittsburgh with the Steelers.

Denver still needs to fork up $39 million for Wilson this season alone (they’ve already paid $85 million of the $124 million he was guaranteed at signing). His release also resulted in a dead cap hit of $85 million for the next two years.


Sean Payton and Russell Wilson pregame

Head coach Sean Payton of the Denver Broncos talks to Russell Wilson #3 of the Denver Broncos prior to a game against the Miami Dolphins at Hard Rock Stadium on September 24, 2023 in Miami Gardens, Florida.  (Megan Briggs/Getty Images)

Normally, all those factors would halt teams from releasing a player, but the Broncos felt it was necessary, even with the money owed.

Broncos head coach Sean Payton was asked if it was “difficult” to let him go because of the dead cap hit and other money owed to him — and he was extremely blunt.


Sean Payton in Las Vegas

Head Coach Sean Payton of the Denver Broncos during warm up against the Las Vegas Raiders at Allegiant Stadium on January 07, 2024 in Las Vegas, Nevada.  (Candice Ward/Getty Images)

The Broncos acquired Wilson in a blockbuster trade from the Seattle Seahawks before the start of the 2022 season. Denver gave up multiple draft picks along with Noah Fant, Shelby Harris and Drew Lock in the deal.

The Broncos hired Payton to replace Nathaniel Hackett after they went 5-12 in the 2022 season, but Wilson eventually lost his job to Jarrett Stidham despite having a crucial win over the eventual Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs.

Wilson played in 15 games during the 2023 season. He had 3,070 passing yards, 26 touchdown passes and eight interceptions.

Russell Wilson warms up

Russell Wilson #3 of the Denver Broncos warms up prior to an NFL football game against the Los Angeles Chargers at Empower Field at Mile High on December 31, 2023 in Denver, Colorado. (Perry Knotts/Getty Images)


The Steelers made a surprising move in trading for Justin Fields, as well. The team has reportedly said Fields will back up Wilson, but many don’t believe that will be the case for long, if at all.

Fox News’ Ryan Gaydos contributed to this report.

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