Russell Wilson agrees to $245 million contract extension with Broncos

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Russell Wilson and the Denver Broncos doubled down on their newly formed partnership Thursday and added to the series of megadeals for NFL quarterbacks negotiated this year.

Wilson, whom the Seattle Seahawks traded to the Broncos in March, agreed to a five-year contract extension with his new team. The deal is worth $245 million, including $165 million in guaranteed money, according to a person familiar with the contract. Wilson had two years and $51 million remaining on his previous deal and now is under contract with the Broncos for the next seven seasons, for $296 million. Wilson will turn 34 in November.

The Broncos’ new ownership group, led by Walmart heir Rob Walton, purchased the franchise from the Pat Bowlen Trust for $4.65 billion, the record sale price for an NFL team. The league’s team owners formally ratified the sale last month.

Wilson’s extension with the Broncos runs through the 2028 season, during which he will turn 40. He was a nine-time Pro Bowl selection in 10 seasons with the Seahawks, helping them to a Super Bowl title in the 2013 season. The Broncos hope that his arrival will reverse the fortunes of a team that has missed the playoffs in six straight seasons.

The Broncos traded quarterback Drew Lock, tight end Noah Fant, defensive lineman Shelby Harris and a package of draft picks, including a pair of first-round choices and a pair of second-rounders, to the Seahawks for Wilson and a fourth-round selection .

There had been speculation, before the trade, that the Broncos would pursue a deal for Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers. Instead, Rodgers stayed in Green Bay, agreeing in March to a three-year contract extension worth just more than $150 million.

That was the first in a series of new deals for prominent quarterbacks leaguewide. Deshaun Watson signed a five-year contract with the Cleveland Browns, who traded for him in March, worth a guaranteed $230 million. In July, Kyler Murray agreed to a five-year, $230.5 million extension with the Arizona Cardinals that included $160 million in guaranteed money.

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Up next could be Lamar Jackson, the former league MVP who is negotiating an extension with the Baltimore Ravens. The Cincinnati Bengals’ Joe Burrow and the Los Angeles Chargers’ Justin Herbert, who were chosen in the 2020 NFL draft, become eligible for contract extensions following the 2022 season, under NFL rules.

Watson signed his contract while facing of sexual misconduct made by women in more than two dozen civil lawsuits. Watson has denied the denied and has not been charged with a crime. But he is serving an 11-game suspension for violating the NFL’s personal conduct policy, under a settlement reached between the league and the NFL Players Association. Some owners of NFL teams were upset that the Browns gave Watson a fully guaranteed contract, particularly under such circumstances, several people with knowledge of the league’s inner workings have said in recent months.

But if Jackson, who does not have an agent and is representing himself in negotiations with the Ravens, wants a fully guaranteed contract like Watson’s, he now faces the precedent of the two huge quarterback deals done since then — Murray’s and Wilson’s — not being fully guaranteed.

Jackson is entering the final season of his contract after the Ravens exercised their fifth-year option in his original rookie deal. He is eligible for unrestricted free agency in the spring, although Baltimore could use its franchise player tag on him. He has implied that he will cut off negotiations on an extension when the regular season begins Sept. 11th.

“I think the fully guaranteed contract ship has sailed (at least for now),” salary cap expert Joel Corry, a former agent, wrote Thursday on Twitter. “If Russell Wilson didn’t get one after the Broncos gave up multiple players [and] multiple 1st round picks for him with a new owner that’s easily the richest in NFL history, good luck to everyone else.”

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