ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Heading into his second season with the team, Denver Broncos quarterback Russell Wilson has kept a lower profile this offseason in his quest to right the wrongs of his first season. with the team.
As the Broncos work through OTAs, Wilson is noticeably leaner than he was in 2022. He has yet to say how much weight he’s lost in recent months — “I’m not counting” — but he said things would be different this time around.
“I wanted to have the best offseason of my life,” Wilson said recently. “…Ultimately, we want to be the best version of ourselves.”
Of his conditioning, Wilson said, “I’m better than ever…I feel great, I feel lean and mean and ready to go.”
Rosters can be an elusive place to find a player’s true weight, especially with teams like the Broncos who have completely turned their strength and conditioning squad on. Wilson is listed at the same weight as last season: 215 pounds.
After Wilson arrived in Denver last year, several personnel officials said privately that his upper body looked bigger than it did during his time with the Seattle Seahawks.
So far, Wilson has ranked his look leaner as part of his review of last season.
“You always want to be in the best shape of your life, I’m ready for that, better than ever,” Wilson said.
Wilson’s first season in Denver didn’t exactly go to plan. The Broncos had the league’s weakest offense, fired their head coach in December, and missed the playoffs for the seventh straight season. For his part, Wilson has looked uncomfortable for most of the year with recalcitrant footwork to go along with some eyebrow-raising decisions.
He finished the season with a career-low 16 touchdown passes and a career-high 55 sacks — not what the Broncos traded five draft picks, including two first-round picks and two second-round picks, in addition of three players to acquire. Besides, that’s not what they signed with a $245 million deal shortly after he joined.
“Every year you reflect,” Wilson said. “…Things you can always do better, things you can work on.”
The Broncos made Sean Payton one of the highest-paid coaches in the league to fix Wilson, eliminate the league’s bottom-third offense and steer the Broncos to the playoffs. And Payton has already instilled in players the mantra of not looking back to avoid the 2022 rehash.
In many ways, Payton intentionally lowered the profile of individual players in the public domain, even on the team’s own website, to hit the organizational reset. As one player said, “It’s going to be different, very different in terms of how much you feel like you can be there.”
It’s definitely a show-don’t-tell approach and it’s evident in Wilson’s offseason so far. Wilson, like many of his teammates, has been on the court in Denver Nuggets playoff games and is here again for the NBA Finals.
But last spring and summer, Wilson’s tour of the city, his workouts in San Diego, his foundation visits were a constant on social media. First pitch at the Colorado Rockies game, a night out with family, an appearance at a charity dinner, a well-thrown spiral to close out an afternoon practice session, or even the form of the day, were all in the world of social media.
There have been largely crickets on these fronts for the most part this year. Even when Payton was asked specifically about Wilson’s progress in the offense, he avoided specifics.
“He picks it up – the timing and all those things that are necessary,” Payton said. “For the first five weeks we were just lifting and running. Now we’re getting into a football activity. We’re ahead of the training schedule. He picks it up nicely – he looks good and has l ‘bright look.’
Wilson called Payton “the game’s great teacher” as they shape their working relationship.
“He’s fine,” Payton said Thursday.
And Wilson has already indulged in some of his new teammates with the Broncos pointed to the final two weeks of their offseason schedule.
“For a very long time, I really couldn’t stand Russell because of how many times he beat us,” said right tackle Mike McGlinchey, who was the team’s biggest rookie in free agency. “But being in the dressing room with him, being in the squad with him has been great…he’s a workaholic. He’s addicted to this game…with coach, with us, with the talent we have in this team ; I think we have a very good shot at taking Russ to even greater heights than he has been.”