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5 worst contracts in Denver Broncos history

With Monday’s news that the Denver Broncos will be moving on from quarterback Russell Wilson, the team has put a period at the end of Wilson’s tenure with the franchise.

Wilson’s trade and subsequent megadeal have been panned as one of the worst deals in franchise history, and possibly one of the worst in NFL history.

Unfortunately, the Broncos are no strangers to bad decisions on players, with several blunders happening within the last few seasons. Broncos Wire names five of the worst deals in team history.

Daryl Gardener

(Brian Bahr/Getty Images)
(Brian Bahr/Getty Images)

Gardener goes down as one of the worst free agent signings in Broncos history. After starting 82 games as a Miami Dolphin, Denver signed him to a seven-year contract worth about $35 million in 2003. Gardener only played five games during his one year with the team. Gardener was suspended multiple times for conduct detrimental to the team, and was released in 2004.

Randy Gregory

(Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports)
(Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports)

Randy Gregory came to Denver on a five-year, $70 million deal in 2022 from Dallas as a free agent. Gregory’s contract had a $10 million signing bonus and $28 million guaranteed. Gregory only lasted one season and change in orange and blue before being traded to the San Francisco 49ers in October 2023. Gregory’s statistics as a Bronco numbered 21 tackles, three sacks, two forced fumbles and only six games started.

Kyle Fuller

(Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports)
(Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports)

Kyle Fuller was brought in by former head coach Vic Fangio to bolster an already-strong secondary for the Broncos. Fuller had put up good numbers as a Chicago Bear, and was thought to be one of the best free agent corners of the 2021 cycle. Fuller started 10 out of the 16 games in 2021, getting playing time in every game. With Denver, Fuller had the worst statistical year of his career, allowing career highs in opponent passer rating, yards per completion and touchdowns allowed, all without an interception. Fuller was benched multiple times, and never really became the answer Denver thought he might be. The Broncos let him walk in free agency the following year.

Ju'Wuan James

(Photo by Alika Jenner/Getty Images)
(Photo by Alika Jenner/Getty Images)

Ja’Wuan James has a strong case to be considered the worst free agent signing in Denver Broncos history. After playing in all 16 games only twice during his time as a Miami Dolphin, Denver signed James to a four-year deal worth $52 million, with $32 million in guaranteed money in 2019. Over the span of two seasons, one season where he didn’t play a game, James played a grand total of 63 snaps as a Bronco. James hurt himself during the 2021 offseason, allowing Denver to comfortably get out of the contract. He went on to sign with the Baltimore Ravens, where he was again injured, missing 16 games.

Russell Wilson

(Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports)
(Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports)

In one of the most lopsided trades in NFL history, the Denver Broncos swung for the proverbial fence and landed then-Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson in 2022. The Broncos gave up three players (Drew Lock, Noah Fant and Shelby Harris) and five draft picks, including two first-round picks, two second-round picks and a fifth-round selection. Before Wilson even took a snap in Denver, he was gifted a five-year, $245 million deal. Following the news that Wilson will be released on March 13, the Broncos are left with the largest “dead money” cap hit in NFL history. Wilson’s less-than-stellar two seasons as a starter is a cautionary tale to any team wanting to extend a veteran quarterback before they have played in a new system.

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Story originally appeared on Broncos Wire