One of the top stories in the NFL recently is the benching of Russell Wilson. Wilson is in his second season with the Denver Broncos and came there with much fanfare. He previously won a Super Bowl with the Seattle Seahawks. The Broncos ended up landing a star successor to Peyton Manning, who last helped bring the team a Super Bowl win. Now, Wilson has always operated in a niche space for an NFL player. He’s a Black, starting quarterback. To this day, it’s a role that is synonymously connected to a white man leading a team. Thankfully, those statistics of Black starting quarterbacks have been on the rise in recent years. And, in my opinion, Wilson is on the positive side of that legacy.

In February of 2023, Sean Payton accepted the head coach role with the Broncos. It was well documented that with his arrival, he didn’t necessarily fancy Wilson in his plans. Now that doesn’t mean there was a personal issue there. It’s common when new regimes enter a framework, for the head of that regime to tailor the personnel under their vision. But when Black talent is involved, there’s an inherent microscope that follows.

You see, many folks were left scratching their heads, wondering why a perfectly healthy Wilson would be benched at this juncture. He had been playing better in his second season than his first. Naturally, Black fans felt that he was being shafted. And frankly, he sort of is. But it’s seemingly not an issue of race. The truth has “jumped out” recently, and according to Wilson, this is a contractual dispute.

Wilson signed a five-year $242.6 million contract in 2022, according to CBS Sports. Of that amount, $161 million is guaranteed. He is guaranteed $39 million in 2024 as well. It seems like the team would like to find ways to trade Wilson to another team. But the deal that Wilson worked out doesn’t allow for that without said team taking on the remainder of his guarantees.

This situation speaks to how good of a deal Wilson signed. If he is still on the Broncos’ roster as of March 17, 2024, his 2025 guarantee will also kick in. If Wilson happened to get hurt between now and then, that guarantee would start from that point. So Wilson was essentially benched to eliminate the chance of injury since he wouldn’t restructure that detail of his contract.

It’s always fascinating seeing these billion-dollar organizations get so granular in how they go about contracts that they agreed to. That’s all until they don’t deem it fortuitous for them. It’ll be interesting to see if Wilson gets moved. I am of the thought that he doesn’t restructure a damn thing. If you’re going to go out, go out with more than you came with. The Broncos are to blame for their confusion currently. But what a relief to know, this ain’t a race thing, right?