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Russell Wilson will want to resurrect his career as a starter, not as a backup

When the Broncos benched quarterback Russell Wilson and it quickly became obvious that they'll cut him before his 2025 salary of $37 million becomes fully guaranteed on March 17, a sense emerged that Wilson will take the league minimum elsewhere ($1.21 million) and stick the Broncos with the balance of his $39 million fully-guaranteed compensation package for 2024.

However, Wilson won't be doing that as a backup. He'll want, in exchange for his willingness to take so little, a commitment that he'll be the starter.

That's the only way he'll resurrect his career for 2025. Not by sitting on the bench behind Aaron Rodgers for a year, as former Jets G.M. Mike Tannenbaum recently suggested. Wilson will want someone to roll out the red carpet while peeling off $1.21 million. (Also, Wilson probably wouldn't want to be reunited with Nathaniel Hackett.)

The possibility of getting a starting quarterback for one year at $1.21 million should tempt any team with an unsettled quarterback situation. The Raiders were the first team mentioned after Wilson was benched. The Steelers are the current betting favorites to land him. The Falcons, for $1.21 million, should be in the mix. The Vikings should compare what they could get from Wilson for one year at $1.21 million to what it would cost them to keep Kirk Cousins.

Wilson, by the way, is younger than Cousins. And Wilson isn't recovering from a torn Achilles tendon.

It's a matter of basic personnel management. How much will the player cost and what can the team expect to get?

Every player is an interchangeable piece of a broader football machine that continues to operate, year after year. If a team can get a serviceable engine for a bargain-basement price, why not consider the possibility?

So, yes, if (as expected) the Broncos cut Wilson before March 17 and if (as believed) Wilson would take $1.21 million because he's getting $39 million no matter what, why wouldn't a team consider giving him the starting job?

With money not an issue, he'll be looking for a place where he'll know he's going to play — and where he thinks the team will be good enough to allow him to restore his status as a player who could end up with a bronze bust in Canton. The last two years have muddied if not drowned his case for the Hall of Fame. He arguably needs a Kurt Warner-style closing stretch to his career that makes 2022-23 a donut hole that can be overlooked when considering his case for enshrinement.

Wilson needs to start that stretch in 2024, not by sitting on the bench but by playing — and by playing well.