Russell Wilson reportedly expects to be released by the Denver Broncos, but head coach Sean Payton remains open to reconciling for 2024.

Payton said Tuesday that he believes there is a scenario where the quarterback returns next season despite his dramatic benching.

“That final decision has not yet been made,” Payton said, according to Chris Tomasson of the Denver Gazette.


Payton added that he met with Wilson on Monday and told him a decision on the quarterback’s future with the Broncos won’t be a “long, drawn-out process.”

Denver sat Wilson for the final two games of the season, and Payton said it was primarily for on-field reasons.

However, the Broncos reportedly told the quarterback in October that they would bench him and make him inactive for the rest of the campaign if he didn’t defer the injury guarantee trigger date included in his contract for the 2025 season.

Wilson’s deal apparently wasn’t changed, but Denver gained financial flexibility by turning to Jarrett Stidham for the last two weeks. The Broncos now have until five days into the new league year in March to decide on Wilson’s future before the quarterback’s $37-million salary for 2025 fully vests.

General manager George Paton confirmed Tuesday that he reached out to Wilson’s agent during the bye week to try to adjust his contract. He said that the quarterback’s benching two months later was purely a football decision by Payton and “completely independent” from the failed contract talks, according to Troy Renck of Denver7.

When asked why Wilson described the negotiations as a threat to bench him, Paton said the team approached its attempt to adjust the deal “in a way we felt was in the best interests of the Broncos.”

Denver’s postseason chances were slim when it benched Wilson, and the team went 1-1 with Stidham to finish with a disappointing 8-9 record in Payton’s first season in charge.

“The one thing that I know is how to win,” said Payton. “Sometimes it may not be 480 yards. But understanding the strength of your team and playing to that. But we have to be great with the details. And we were not good enough. There were certain mistakes repeated. And that starts with coaching and teaching.”