NFLPA Told Broncos Threatening to Bench Russell Wilson over Contract Violated CBA

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Andy Cross/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty ImagesThe Denver Broncos’ decision to bench Russell Wilson for Jarrett Stidham for Sunday’s game against the Los Angeles Chargers despite still being alive in the playoff race is one of the biggest headlines of Week 17, but the NFL Players Association reportedly told the team weeks ago it violated the collective bargaining agreement by threatening the quarterback if he didn’t change his contract.

According to Mark Maske of the Washington Post, NFLPA attorney Jeffrey Kessler sent the Broncos a letter on Nov. 4 regarding the team telling Wilson it would bench him if he didn’t push his $37 million guarantee to 2025.

“If the Broncos follow-through on the Club’s threat, the Club will violate, among other things, the Collective Bargaining Agreement, Mr. Wilson’s Player Contract and New York law,” the letter said. “And, we are particularly concerned that the Broncos still intend to commit these violations under the guise of ‘coaching decisions.'”

It continued, saying, “we write to notify you that the NFLPA and Mr. Wilson ‘reasonably anticipate’ arbitration and/or litigation against the Broncos and the Management Council, triggering your respective obligations to preserve potentially relevant documents.”

As Maske noted, Wilson told reporters Friday the Broncos threatened his benching if he didn’t defer the injury guarantee.

Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk provided his own update on the situation:

ProFootballTalk @ProFootballTalkHere’s a summary of what happened this week with the Broncos and Russell Wilson. Plus a little news regarding what was said to Wilson’s agent by the Broncos in late October.

In essence, Wilson would make an additional $37 million in guaranteed money if he can’t pass a physical by early March. That means sitting him for the final two games of the regular season protects the Broncos against him suffering an injury that could trigger that guarantee.

On Wednesday, The Athletic’s Dianna Russini reported Wilson expects to be released by the Broncos during the upcoming offseason.

The quarterback even took to social media and said “looking forward to what’s next.”

Russell Wilson @DangeRussWilsonGod’s got me.
Looking forward to what’s next.

Yet NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported Sunday that Denver hasn’t ruled out bringing Wilson back unless “it has a better option.” Part of that would be a financial decision, as cutting him would lead to an $89 million cap charge and $39 million in guaranteed money for 2024.

That would be painful even though making it a post-June 1 designation could allow the Broncos to split the cap hit.

Wilson was a nine-time Pro Bowler and Super Bowl champion during his time with the Seattle Seahawks, but he is just 11-19 as a starter for the Broncos. His time with the team has largely been a disappointment, especially given the high expectations that were in place when Denver added him.

And it even reached a point where the NFLPA reached out to the team for potentially violating the CBA.


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