Has Russell Wilson Become The Denver Broncos’ Kryptonite To Landing Sean Payton As Coach?

Videos by OutKick

According to two sources close to coach Sean Payton, one of the biggest concerns he has in considering the Denver Broncos job is quarterback Russell Wilson.

While Wilson has reached out to Payton in hopes of luring the coach to the Broncos, Payton has expressed serious concerns about whether Wilson is both too physically limited to become great again and has too much sway over the organization because of his contract.

“Sean wants a ready-made quarterback wherever he goes,” said one source. “That’s why he was willing to do the deal in Miami with (Tom) Brady. That’s why he wanted the Chargers job (with Justin Herbert) … Wilson is a project. He has to be fixed and he has to be willing to do the stuff Sean wants him to do. I know that’s what Sean is thinking about.”

Sean Payton and Russell Wilson. (Getty Images)

“He’s really worried about (Wilson) and how to make that work. He’s really concerned.”

Likewise, the lack of a quarterback in Carolina has made that situation less appealing for Sean Payton and the prospect of working with Kyler Murray in Arizona is even less appealing, the source said.

Or as another person put it: “When Sean went to New Orleans, it was a lot of work and he had to take some big (risks). People forget that Drew Brees couldn’t throw at the time they signed. Literally, he couldn’t throw. His arm was still in a sling. But Sean knew he was getting a guy who would work his (butt) off, so that made it easier, and Drew had something to prove.”


Payton Would Need To Get Wilson Moving Again

With Wilson, the issue is very different. Wilson, 34, pushed his way out of Seattle after wanting more control of the offense. Wilson not only helped Seattle win a Super Bowl, but he put up great statistical performances there.

“After Russell left, everybody (in Seattle) started sharing their stories about how difficult he was to deal with,” one of the sources said. “Sean has heard all of it and he’s watching it. Russell did a good job of watching his weight and being in shape, but he still got thicker and doesn’t move the same way. It’s hard to be a short quarterback if you can’t move.

“If Sean coaches him, they have to figure that out. Sean said that during the season on radio (with Colin Cowherd). You have to get Russell back to moving around because he can’t play from the pocket all the time. He’s a sitting duck if you do that.”

Wilson’s self-assurance worked against him in Denver. Last season, Denver got away from getting Wilson out of the pocket and into open space where he could read the field better. Both Wilson and former head coach Nathaniel Hackett believed that the 5-foot-10 Wilson would be better off in the pocket on a regular basis.

The result was a career-worst passer rating of 84.4 for Wilson, a career-low 16 touchdown passes and a career-high 55 sacks. Denver struggled to a 5-12 season despite making the blockbuster deal for Wilson.

The success of Brees in New Orleans was a big part of that. Brees is one of the players Wilson has admired throughout his career, in large part because they were both undersized quarterbacks. During the season, Hall of Fame quarterback and former Seattle radio analyst Warren Moon talked about how much Wilson admired Brees and wanted to be more of a pocket quarterback like Brees.

That has led to Wilson reaching out to Sean Payton. That happened 10 days ago, but has yet to lead to an agreement because Payton is still assessing all situations and still wondering if there is a better coaching situation.

Written by Jason Cole

Jason Cole has covered or written about pro football since 1992. He is one of 49 selectors for the Pro Football Hall of Fame and has served as a selector since 2013. Cole has worked for publications such as Bleacher Report, Yahoo! Sports, The Miami Herald, the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel, and started his career with the Peninsula Times-Tribune in Palo Alto. Cole’s five-year investigation of Reggie Bush and the University of Southern California resulted in Bush becoming the only player to ever relinquish his Heisman Trophy and USC losing its 2004 national championship.

Leave a Reply