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Russell Wilson bids farewell to Broncos, 'excited' for next opportunity

The Denver Broncos will release quarterback Russell Wilson at the start of the NFL's new league year. File Photo by David Tulis/UPI

March 5 (UPI) -- Veteran quarterback Russell Wilson took time to thank many people with the Denver Broncos, outside of the coach and general manager, upon learning of his upcoming release. He also said he is "excited for what's next."

The Broncos announced the move Monday night, but the transaction won't become official until March 13. Wilson is expected to draw interest from several teams, impacting the draft and the free agency pool.

"Over these last two years, you have welcomed my family and me with open arms and have embraced us as members the Denver community," Wilson wrote on his social media platforms.

"This city will always hold a special place in my heart. Our family grew here, we made countless memories and friendships, and formed relationships that will last a lifetime."

Denver Broncos quarterback Russell Wilson (L) completed 66.4% of his throws last season. File Photo by Terry Schmitt/UPI
Denver Broncos quarterback Russell Wilson (L) completed 66.4% of his throws last season. File Photo by Terry Schmitt/UPI

Wilson thanked his teammates, staff members and others, but declined to mention Broncos coach Sean Payton or general manager George Paton, who issued the statement about his release.

Because of his release, the Broncos will eat $85 million in dead money -- funds reserved for Wilson on their salary cap that they can't use on another player -- over the next two years.

Denver Broncos quarterback Russell Wilson (L) spent the last two seasons with the franchise. File Photo by Jon Robichaud/UPI
Denver Broncos quarterback Russell Wilson (L) spent the last two seasons with the franchise. File Photo by Jon Robichaud/UPI

His new team will be able to give him a new contract, which will likely be a discount from his previous four-year, $140 million pact.

The Pittsburgh Steelers, Atlanta Falcons, New England Patriots, Las Vegas Raiders, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Minnesota Vikings and Tennessee Titans are among the teams that could be in the market for a quarterback this off-season.

Denver Broncos quarterback Russell Wilson is expected to draw interest in free agency once he is officially released. File Photo by Jon Robichaud/UPI
Denver Broncos quarterback Russell Wilson is expected to draw interest in free agency once he is officially released. File Photo by Jon Robichaud/UPI

"Tough times don't last, but tough people do," Wilson wrote. "God's got me. I am excited for what's next."

Starting March 13, Wilson can sign with any team. The Broncos will pay him his $39 million guaranteed salary in 2024, but are permitted to subtract whatever he gets from his new team from that amount.

The Broncos, who only roster quarterbacks Jarrett Stidham and Ben DiNucci, also could be in the market for a new passer. They own the No. 12 overall pick in the 2024 NFL Draft. Kirk Cousins, Baker Mayfield, Ryan Tannehill, Gardner Minshew and Jameis Winston are among the top quarterbacks expected to hit free agency.

"As we move forward, we are focused on building the strongest team possible for the 2024 season and beyond," Payton and Paton said in their joint statement. "We are excited to improve this offseason and will have the flexibility to get better through the draft and free agency."