BRONCOS

The Denver Broncos are now truly and officially Team Russell Wilson

Sep 1, 2022, 9:35 AM | Updated: 9:35 am
Russell Wilson...
(Photo by Andrew Mason / DenverFan.com)
(Photo by Andrew Mason / DenverFan.com)

The Broncos belong to scions of the Walmart dynasty created by Sam and Bud Walton. Their general manager’s colleagues declared his first draft to be the NFL’s best. Their coach is an energetic perpetual sound bite destined to become a NFL Films favorite.

But this is Russell WIlson’s organization.

If you didn’t know it by the fact that the Broncos embrace his personal catchphrase — even displaying it on a flag that flies the tail end of the “B-R-O-N-C-O-S” flag collective brandished across Empower Field at Mile High after each score, you know it now after he and the Broncos agreed to a 5-year extension that keeps him under contract until 2028.

The primacy of the quarterback position is obvious, and it reflects in the fact that the guaranteed outlay to Wilson of $165 million exceeds that of the combined guaranteed money given to six players over the first 18 months of George Paton’s tenure as Broncos GM:

Safety Justin Simmons: $35 million
Wide receiver Courtland Sutton: $34.9 million
Edge rusher Randy Gregory: $28 million
Defensive lineman D.J. Jones: $20 million
Cornerback Ronald Darby: $19.5 million
Wide receiver Tim Patrick: $18.5 million

Wilson alone will have $9.1 million more in guaranteed money than those six players combined.

There is no doubt that those players are important. And for Simmons, Sutton, Gregory and Jones in particular, the Broncos aren’t in the Super Bowl conversation in the early years of Wilson’s tenure unless they deliver.

But Wilson is the load-bearing wall in the entire operation. And you put more into that part of the construction than you do a wall that simply separates a bedroom from the hallway.

From the financials to the marketing slogans to the collection of Wilson support staff floating about the halls of UCHealth Training Center, the Broncos are Team Russ.

They go as he goes. They move in the direction in which he points them.

That said, new ownership is not insignificant in this. The Walton-Penner group signed off on a $165 million guarantee that is the second-largest in NFL history.

And make no mistake — while Rob Walton, Greg Penner and Carrie Walton Penner had eyes on the Broncos for many years before purchasing the team, having Wilson aboard didn’t hurt matters. The trade for the quarterback microwaved the Broncos back into relevance. They don’t need to sit around and wait for a winner.

“It’s critical to have a great quarterback in this league, and coming into this organization with Russell in place is a tremendous benefit for us,” Penner said Aug. 10.

Wilson is in the select group of quarterbacks who provides a legitimate, year-in, year-out chance at winning it all. Yes, other players, coaches and general managers are important, too. And organizations win championships, not individual players.

But you don’t need to know football to know that where the QB points, the team follows.

Further, after six years tumbling into the ditch behind a carousel of passers, it’s worth the price for the Broncos to have a QB who can point them in the direction of the promised land.

Even if it means that they are “Team Russ” at least as much as they are the Broncos. After all, almost every Super Bowl winner is defined by the QB being its North Star.

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The Denver Broncos are now truly and officially Team Russell Wilson