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Broncos head coach Sean Payton: Decision on Russell Wilson's future coming 'within the next two weeks'

INDIANAPOLIS -- Russell Wilson's future in Denver will be determined within the fortnight.

Broncos head coach Sean Payton said Tuesday from the 2024 NFL Scouting Combine that he anticipates a decision on Wilson coming "within the next two weeks."

The timeline isn't a surprise, as Wilson, who benched for the final two weeks of last season, has a $37 million injury guarantee for 2025 that becomes fully guaranteed the fifth day of the new league year. Part of the reason for benching Wilson down the stretch was to avoid a catastrophic injury. Given Wilson's cap figure and the massive amount of dead-money that will come with cutting the QB, doing so before the new league year opens on March 13 is an obvious timeline.

Payton declined to say that the Broncos will, in fact, release Wilson, but the writing has been on the wall for months. Wilson recently noted on the I Am Athlete podcast that he's aiming for two more Super Bowl wins, which he hoped would come in Denver.

Asked Tuesday, Payton said he hadn't heard the podcast.

As Payton enters his second season in Denver, the key is finding a long-term solution at quarterback.

"We better (find the solution)," he said. "The question was finding the solution at quarterback in this league, which is obviously very competitive within our division. I think it's vital. I saw this humorous meme the other day where there's a Broncos fan with a shirt on and there's like eight quarterbacks names crossed through it and he's drinking the quarterback Kool-Aid. Our job is to make sure that this next one doesn't have a line through it."

Broncos general manager George Paton noted that he hasn't "heard anything from any teams" regarding a potential trade of Wilson, which isn't a big surprise given the quarterback's contract.

With a salary cap crunch coming in the wake of the likely release of Wilson, the Broncos' most obvious path to quarterback stability is through the draft. The evaluation process ramps up this week at the combine.

"We want to see the entire landscape," Paton said. "We had to get through our draft meetings. We had to get through our free-agent meetings, and evaluate with what we have. We just want to get through this process. Sean needs to see all these quarterbacks. The coaches need to see all these quarterbacks until we make an informed decision."

Paton noted that it would be difficult to jump to the top of the draft to snag one of the top quarterbacks and all but ruled out a leap all the way to No. 1.

"You'd really have to love someone (to trade up)," he said. "To move up to (No.) 1, I don't think we have the draft capital to do that. We're open to anything, but that would be hard to move up to No. 1, realistically."

One name that has consistently been mocked to Denver sitting at No. 12 overall is Michigan quarterback J.J. McCarthy. Paton said the club plans to meet with the national champion quarterback on Tuesday.

"He's a good player, just like seven or eight of the other quarterbacks," Paton told reporters. "We're still working through the process. Obviously, he's a winner, he's won a lot, he has talent, so looking forward to spending time with him, I think tonight."

Since Peyton Manning's retirement, Denver has scoured for an answer at quarterback to no avail. That search continues this offseason. The plan will come into future focus after the Wilson situation is put to bed.

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