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Decision on Russell Wilson in 'next two weeks,' Sean Payton says

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Damien Woody scoffs at Russell Wilson's Super Bowl aspirations (1:02)

Damien Woody would like Russell Wilson to play better before talking about his goal to win two more Super Bowls in his career. (1:02)

INDIANAPOLIS -- Denver Broncos coach Sean Payton said Tuesday a decision on quarterback Russell Wilson's future with the team will come "within the next two weeks.''

Payton, speaking at the NFL's scouting combine, said he would go through the combine this week with the coaching and scouting staffs, and then the organization would have meetings that include owner/CEO Greg Penner early next week after everyone returned from Indianapolis.

And a decision on Wilson's future would then follow those meetings.

"[Next] Tuesday, Wednesday, we'll be in meetings with ownership; I expect we're going to know fairly quickly,'' Payton said. "I said it at the Super Bowl, but more specifically, somewhere of the neighborhood [of] next week."

"There are several factors here,'' Payton continued. "The cap projections came out, we're further down the road with the draft class, obviously the pro free agents, so I would anticipate it within the next two weeks.''

When asked if the Broncos would push a decision to "the eve of free agency,'' which opens March 13, Payton said "I think I just said the next two weeks, the next two weeks.''

Many in the league have believed the Broncos would release Wilson since the quarterback was benched with two games remaining in the season. Payton announced on Dec. 27 Wilson would be benched in favor of Jarrett Stidham for the Dec. 31 game against the Los Angeles Chargers.

Stidham also started the season finale Jan. 7 against the Raiders in Las Vegas. The Broncos went 1-1 in those games with two of their four lowest-scoring outputs of the season -- 16 points in a win over the Chargers and 14 points in the loss to the Raiders.

If the Broncos release Wilson, the team would take on $85 million in "dead money'' charges against its salary cap over the next two seasons.

At the time he announced Wilson's benching, and since, Payton said it was a football decision he made in search of "a spark'' on offense. Wilson, however, said Dec. 29 that the Broncos approached him about waiving a guarantee in the five-year, $242.6 million contract he signed in 2022. That guarantee would give Wilson, who is already guaranteed $39 million in 2024 whether he is on the team or not, another $37 million (his 2025 salary) guaranteed if he could not pass a physical on the fifth day of the new league year in March.

Wilson said at the time, the "Monday or Tuesday'' after the Broncos' Oct. 29 win over the Chiefs -- which broke Denver's 16-game losing streak to Kansas City -- the Broncos' decision-makers said they would bench him if he didn't adjust the $37 million guarantee. "They definitely told me I was going to be benched and all that,'' Wilson said then.

Broncos officials have said those negotiations about the contract were "in good faith'' and part of common discussions about the timing of bonuses or guarantees. This past weekend, Wilson reaffirmed what he has said was the Broncos' threat to bench him if he didn't adjust or waive the guaranteed money, in an appearance on former Broncos wide receiver Brandon Marshall's "I Am Athlete" podcast posted Sunday evening.

In the interview with Marshall, Wilson said: "I didn't believe it at first ... I got that call 'Hey, we're going to bench you for the next nine games if you don't change your injury guarantee' ... I didn't want to set a precedent for players with injury guarantees, there was no way I was going to do that ... I told them I wasn't going to do it, no shot.''

Wilson also said in the interview with Marshall that Payton, in the days before the Broncos' Nov. 13 game against the Buffalo Bills, told him to "act like nothing happened, you're going to play this week, we've got to go win a game in Buffalo.''

Tuesday at the combine, Broncos general manager George Paton, who led the negotiations with Wilson's representatives about the contract adjustment, was asked about Wilson's most recent statements regarding the contract talks.

"I appreciate that, but we've moved forward, everything we did was aboveboard,'' Paton said. "I appreciate Russ, but we've moved forward. We have a lot of work to do, we're here at the combine, with free agency around the corner, we're focused on bettering our football team.''

And on whether or not there has been any interest in Wilson in the trade market in recent weeks, Paton said: "I haven't heard anything from any teams. So, we'll see.''