Aug 11, 2023 - Sports

Russell Wilson's star fades after his first season as Broncos' quarterback

Denver Broncos quarterback Russell Wilson rushes for a touchdown against the Kansas City Chiefs during a Jan. 1 game at Arrowhead Stadium. Photo: David Eulitt/Getty Images

Denver Broncos quarterback Russell Wilson's star power has lost quite a bit of its luster, at least according to league coaches and execs.

Driving the news: A list compiled by The Athletic and released in July put Wilson 16th in the league, good for tier three, according to 50 NFL coaches and executives.

How it works: Quarterbacks are ranked from tier one — a guy whose team wins because of him — to tier four — an unproven player. There are five levels (with fifth being the worst) but none of the 30 veteran quarterbacks ranked received any votes for the final tier.

  • Wilson ranked among quarterbacks described as legitimate starters but in need of a strong defense or running game to be successful.

State of play: His drop in voting was the largest single-year decline in the history of quarterback rankings.

Zoom in: Wilson ranks just four spots ahead of Seattle Seahawks quarterback Geno Smith, who enjoyed a stellar season after Wilson was shipped to Denver from Seattle.

  • Following one of the worst seasons of his career, one personnel director said Wilson has lost some athleticism and speed.

Reality check: Two people told The Athletic they believe Wilson's play will improve this year under new head coach Sean Payton.

The bottom line: Wilson will get a chance to showcase his progress under Payton in the team's first preseason game against the Arizona Cardinals on Friday.

  • While the game means nothing in the standings, he told the team's website this week it's an opportunity to develop an identity and give young players a chance to shine.
  • "As a veteran … it's about seeing those guys develop and grow and take everything they've done at such a high level on the game field," Wilson said this week.
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