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Senior NFL writer offers bold Russell Wilson, Jarrett Stidham prediction

By Zac Wassink,

Denver Broncos quarterback Russell Wilson.

Another noteworthy member of the NFL community believes Denver Broncos head coach Sean Payton could sit quarterback Russell Wilson in favor of backup Jarrett Stidham this fall.

Sports Illustrated NFL senior writer Conor Orr predicted this week that Wilson "will not start a majority of the Broncos' games under center" during the 2023 season.

"Payton is particular," Orr said. "He’s the head chef, and, while the quarterback is an integral part of making up his game plan, if you’re not running the plays as designed, he’s going to find someone who will."

Hall of Famer Terry Bradshaw spent the 2022 season as Payton's colleague with Fox and raised eyebrows when he suggested ahead of Super Bowl LVII that the Denver coach is essentially stuck with Wilson for at least one season due to the five-year contract extension reportedly worth $245M with $165M guaranteed the 34-year-old signed late last summer.

Matthew Berry of NBC Sports Edge then reported that "more than one person mentioned" to him during the combine that Wilson "is basically on a one-year audition" under Payton. NBC Sports' Peter King wrote later in March he believed Payton won't hesitate to play Stidham over a struggling Wilson "by midseason."

Last week, former Seattle Seahawks linebacker K.J. Wright said he thinks Wilson will dislike Payton's "harshness" in post-game meetings and evaluations.

"Stidham...looks to be a kind of Payton muse while the coach formulates the real, long-term solution that he likely spent this entire offseason plotting," Orr added.

Wilson allegedly lost members of the Denver locker room due to his antics and poor play during his first campaign with the organization. According to ESPN stats, he ended the 2022 regular season ranked 27th among qualified quarterbacks with a 36.7 adjusted QBR and an 84.4 passer rating. He was 31st with a 60.5% completion percentage and recorded 16 touchdown passes with 11 interceptions in 15 games.

Wilson sounds hyped to have Payton as his coach heading into the summer, but ongoing whispers indicate this marriage could become a divorce-in-waiting by Christmas Day.

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