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Denver Broncos Make Quarterback Change as Playoff Hopes Dwindle

The Denver Broncos are making a significant change at quarterback with two weeks remaining in the regular season, as NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported on Wednesday that the team is benching Russell Wilson for the final two games. This decision comes as the Broncos face diminishing playoff hopes and seek to evaluate their options for the future.

Jarrett Stidham will step into the starting role for the Broncos this Sunday against the Chargers, marking his first start for the team. Additionally, Wilson will serve as the No. 2 quarterback for Week 17, as confirmed by NFL Network Insider Tom Pelissero. The move to bench Wilson is reportedly influenced by financial considerations, with the team aiming to protect themselves from potential financial obligations in the future.

According to Rapoport, Wilson has a $37 million injury guarantee for 2025 that becomes fully guaranteed in March. By sitting him for the final two weeks, the Broncos can safeguard themselves against potential financial constraints if they decide to move on from the 35-year-old quarterback in 2024. This late-season benching serves as a strong indicator that the Broncos may be preparing to part ways with Wilson after two seasons.

In response to the quarterback change, head coach Sean Payton emphasized the team's commitment to winning and expressed the decision as a means to inject a spark into the offense. Payton addressed reporters, stating, "I can tell you we're desperately trying to win... the No. 1 push behind this... is to get a spark offensively."

Wilson's performance under Payton has shown improvement compared to his challenging first season in Denver in 2022, but the offense has faced recent struggles. The Broncos' hopes of making the playoffs have taken a hit with three losses in their last four games, including a defeat to the New England Patriots in Week 15.

In 15 starts this season, Wilson has completed 66.4% of his passes for 3,070 yards, with 26 touchdown passes and eight interceptions. While Wilson was initially seen as a pivotal addition to propel the Broncos into playoff contention, the potential end of his tenure in Denver could be viewed as a significant disappointment.

With Stidham taking over at quarterback, Payton aims to assess his potential impact, as Stidham previously demonstrated promise during his time with the Las Vegas Raiders last season.

As the Broncos face a slim 8% chance of making the playoffs with two games remaining, the decision to bench Wilson reflects a strategic move by Payton to evaluate the team's options for the upcoming 2024 season. The final two weeks will serve as a crucial period for the Broncos to assess their quarterback situation and make preparations for the future under Payton's leadership.

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