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Some Broncos players were ‘pissed’ after Russell Wilson was benched

When the Denver Broncos benched quarterback Russell Wilson two weeks ago, coach Sean Payton claimed it was a football decision, not a financial one. Regardless of what the motivation was, some players in the locker room were upset by the decision.

Here’s part of Jeff Legwold’s recent story on the Wilson situation from ESPN.com:

Players were also left frustrated. When asked about the reaction to the benching decision, one player said, “Pissed for Russ. Just pissed for Russ, a lot of us.”

Another player added, “We just won five in a row. We’re all going to support [backup Jarrett Stidham], but Russ was giving everything he had.”

It’s worth noting that not all of Denver’s players felt that way. Here’s part of Ian Rapoport’s Dec. 31 story on Wilson’s benching from NFL.com:

When players watched film during the week of the past few games, they saw an endless string of open players that Wilson wasn’t finding in time. Sure, the big-time plays in the fourth quarter were there, but finding the open guy in rhythm was an issue. Players saw it, and privately discussed it among themselves, sources say. Some have wondered the last few weeks if Stidham, who Payton signed early in free agency, would be better.

Justin Simmons, a team captain and the longest-tenured Bronco on the team, had a diplomatic reaction to Wilson’s benching.

“Russ has been great for us,” the safety told Legwold. “It’s just unfortunate things don’t work out, sometimes they don’t, it’s not a shot at him as a player, not a shot at him as a person, I just think sometimes things just don’t work out, that’s how it is.”

Payton suggested that switching to Stidham would give the offense a spark, but Denver scored just 16 and 17 points in the final two games of the season. It would be hard to argue that Stidham provided any upgrade over Wilson.

Now the Broncos are expected to release Wilson in March. Stidham’s future with the team is unclear. He’s under contract for 2024 and he aims to start, but Denver could save $5 million in salary cap space if Stidham is cut.

The Broncos could look to free agency for a short-term solution and the NFL draft for a long-term QB (Denver holds the 12th overall pick). Two years after trading for Wilson, the team seems poised to return to the QB market this spring.

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Story originally appeared on Broncos Wire