Sean Payton explains decision to bench QB Russell Wilson

The Denver Broncos benched quarterback Russell Wilson on Wednesday, a move that was likely influenced at least in part by the QB’s contract.

If Wilson suffers a serious injury and can’t pass a physical in March, his $37 million salary 2025 would become guaranteed. Benching the QB rules out the risk of Wilson getting injured in one of the final two games of the season.

Broncos coach Sean Payton acknowledged an “economic” aspect of the decision on Wednesday, but he also insisted that he’s simply trying to get a spark and win games. Payton apparently believes quarterback Jarrett Stidham gives the team a good chance to win over the next two weeks.

“Most of you know we made a change at quarterback,” Payton said after Wednesday’s practice. “I understand all the speculation and everything that surrounds a move like that. I can tell you [that] we’re desperately trying to win.

“Sure, in our game today there are economics and all those other things, but the No. 1 push behind this — and it’s a decision I’m making — is to get a spark offensively. Obviously, it’s difficult.”

When asked for specifics, Payton initially danced around the question before mentioning turnovers and scoring.

“Rather than get into the specifics — because I think that would be unfair today — it’s more about what we weren’t doing effectively enough offensively,” Payton said. “When we were getting two or three turnovers, that’s one thing. Ultimately, our job is to get the ball in the end zone, and we have to be more efficient doing that — all of us.”

Wilson isn’t the only one who has struggled on offense, though, so why is he the one taking the fall?

“I get that, and yet, I can’t replace the entire offensive line,” Payton said. “I can’t bring in five new receivers. If [the offense struggling] continues over a period of time, there will be another guy here talking to you, as well. These are difficult decisions. Obviously, there’s more attention when it’s the quarterback who’s under contract, but different than maybe earlier decisions we’ve made with last year’s prior starters.

“I can just assure you one thing – I’ve said this to Greg [Penner] and George [Paton] a number of times – I’m just interested in winning. It doesn’t matter how. When you do this for this long a period, that’s all you’re interested in because there’s nothing like it. The other side of it — there’s nothing like that, either. That’s kind of what it is.”

Stidham, who will replacing Wilson, has started two games in his career, both of them losses with the Las Vegas Raiders last season.

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Story originally appeared on Broncos Wire