ARIZONA CARDINALS

Former Broncos, Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson agrees to sign with Steelers

Mar 11, 2024, 6:30 AM | Updated: 7:40 am

Russell Wilson, Denver Broncos quarterback...

Defensive tackle Christian Barmore #90 of the New England Patriots chases Russell Wilson #3 of the Denver Broncos during the 3rd quarter of the game at Empower Field At Mile High on December 24, 2023 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)

(Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)

Russell Wilson is heading to the Pittsburgh Steelers.

The nine-time Pro Bowl quarterback has agreed to sign a one-year deal with the Steelers, a person familiar with the details told The Associated Press on Sunday night.

The person, speaking on condition of anonymity because the contract hasn’t been finalized, said Wilson will receive the veteran’s minimum of $1.21 million while the Denver Broncos pay the remainder of his $39 million salary.

Wilson posted his intentions on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter, saying: “Year 13. Grateful. (at)Steelers.”

The 35-year-old Wilson was 11-19 in two seasons with the Broncos after being acquired in a trade from Seattle. He bounced back from a dreadful 2022 season and threw 3,070 yards, 26 touchdowns and only eight interceptions, but still lost his job to Jarrett Stidham after going 7-8 in coach Sean Payton’s first season last year.

Wilson led Seattle to eight playoff appearances and a Super Bowl title in 10 seasons with the Seahawks.

The Steelers lost a wild-card playoff game with Mason Rudolph as their starting quarterback. Rudolph went 3-0 after replacing Kenny Pickett, who was 7-5 before going down with an injury. Mitch Trubisky started the other two games and went 0-2.

Pittsburgh is scheduled to play the Broncos in Denver this upcoming season — and the game could feature a return by Wilson. The NFL is expected to release its league schedule in May.

Last week, the Broncos informed Wilson they’d release him when the new league year begins Wednesday — but gave him permission to speak to other teams.

“We thank Russell for his contributions and dedications to our team and community while wishing him the best as he continues his career,” the team posted on its social media channels last week, adding, “We are excited to improve this offseason and will have the flexibility to get better through the draft and free agency.”

After signing a nearly quarter-billion dollar extension before playing a down in Denver, Wilson contended the Broncos had threatened to bench him for the final nine games last season if he didn’t push back his $37 million injury guarantee in his contract.

Wilson declined to adjust his deal and started seven more games before getting benched in what Payton insisted was a football move, not a financial one.

The move also comes less than two weeks after Steelers general manager Omar Khan said the team had “full faith” in Pickett, a former star next door at the University of Pittsburgh who has struggled to be a difference maker at the most important position on the field.

Pittsburgh head coach Mike Tomlin has defended Pickett at every turn since the Steelers selected him with the 20th overall pick in the 2022 draft. Tomlin admitted in the days after Pittsburgh’s loss to Buffalo in the playoffs that 2024 would be a “huge” year for Pickett and the plan was to bring in competition during training camp.

That competition now likely won’t be on the well-liked Rudolph — who will become a free agent on Wednesday — but instead a player with a potentially Hall of Fame caliber resume who has just one playoff win since 2016 and struggled to fit in in Denver.

Wilson joins a team that has plenty of youth on offense in running backs Najee Harris and Jaylen Warren and wide receivers George Pickens and Diontae Johnson, and stars on defense in perennial All-Pro outside linebacker T.J. Watt and safety Minkah Fitzpatrick.

With Watt and Fitzpatrick both in their primes, Pittsburgh appears to be in a hurry to close the gap between itself and the AFC’s elite, a club the Steelers haven’t been a part of for at least a half-decade. Team president Art Rooney II said in January it was “time to get some wins” in the playoffs, something Pittsburgh hasn’t done since beating Kansas City in the divisional round in 2016.

Enter Wilson and first-year offensive coordinator Arthur Smith, hired last month to revive a unit that has finished 21st or worse in points per game four times in the last five years.

Getting Wilson on the cheap gives Pittsburgh plenty of flexibility in free agency as it looks to address positions along the offensive and defensive lines as well as the secondary and inside linebacker. The team cut several players — namely veteran defensive back Patrick Peterson and center Mason Cole — in recent weeks to create more flexibility and Wilson’s arrival signals an “all-in” approach with the team in its longest drought between postseason victories since Franco Harris made the “Immaculate Reception” more than five decades ago.

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