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Follow the money: Even after committing $235 million to 9 free agents, 2023 Broncos still about their $296 million investment in Russell Wilson

The quarterback has a proven successful offensive head coach and an improved offensive line. Now it's Wilson's turn to deliver a bounce-back year.

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — For all the Broncos spending on new players last week, it’s still all about Russell Wilson.

As was reported by 9NEWS last week, Broncos’ CEO and owner Greg Penner allowed Paton and Payton to spend $235 million on  players. The total contract value committed in free agency was not only tops in the NFL, but 33 percent greater than the second-biggest spenders, the New Orleans Saints, who allocated $177 million.

So what did all this free-agent spending do for Wilson? Because face it, the Broncos can buy all the players they want, their 2023 season depends on the bounce back of No. 3.

*First, it gives him better pass protection. Two of the three highest-paid new Broncos are right tackle Mike McGlinchey and left guard Ben Powers. Running back Samaje Pee-Rine is also a strong blitz protector.

Credit: AP Photo/Nick Wass
Baltimore Ravens guard Ben Powers (72) takes to the field before an NFL football game against the Atlanta Falcons, Saturday, Dec. 24, 2022, in Baltimore.

Then again, some of those 55 sacks on Wilson last year were on Russ himself. According to several quarterback film analysts like Kurt Warner, Chris Simms and Greg Cosell, Wilson has to read better and get ride of the ball quicker. That’s where Sean Payton comes in.

Make no mistake, the Broncos top acquisition this offseason was not McGlinchey and his $17.5 million a year salary. It was Payton who is believed to be among the NFL’s highest-paid coaches, if not the top paid.

Payton’s .631 winning percentage over 15 seasons with the Saints not only comes out close to 11 wins a year in a 17-game season, his offenses ranked in the top seven in scoring 9 times and top 4 in total yards 10 times.

As has been stated a couple dozen times, Wilson was a top 10 quarterback in nine of his first 10 seasons previous to arriving in Denver. He was 27th among qualified NFL passers last year, his first with the Broncos.

Wilson now has a better offensive line and a top 5 offensive-based head coach (the Chiefs’ Andy Reid is the undisputed No. 1 so long as Patrick Mahomes is his quarterback). No excuses for Wilson in 2023. The Broncos’ seven-year playoff skid must be snapped this year.

Credit: AP
Arizona Cardinals defensive end Zach Allen (94) walks off the field after an NFL football game against the Los Angeles Chargers, Sunday, Nov. 27, 2022, in Glendale, Ariz. The Chargers defeated the Cardinals 25-24. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

*On defense, the Broncos’ brass considered defensive tackle Zach Allen to be consistently better against the run than Dre’Mont Jones. Better run defense means opponents won’t have as much possession time. More time for Russ and the offense.

*As for receiver, the Broncos were in on Allen Lazard and checked in with Adam Thielen. But they didn’t trade their own Jerry Jeudy to the New England Patriots, who instead signed free-agent JuJu Smith-Schuster. It would be a surprise if the Broncos didn't pick up the $12.987 million fifth year option for the 2024 season on Jeudy by the May 2 deadline.

Remember, the Broncos spent big bucks in free agency because they gave up three first-round draft picks and three second-rounders to get their quarterback last year and head coach this year.

The Broncos cannot put themselves in in this position every year. But given their predicament, Broncos owners did their part to put the Broncos’ in position to become a playoff team again. A bigger part, though, is for Russ to be Russ again.

Credit: AP
Denver Broncos quarterback Russell Wilson (3) leaves the field against the Los Angeles Chargers of an NFL football game Sunday, January 8, 2023, in Denver. (AP Photo/Bart Young)



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