ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- Heading into his second season with the team, Denver Broncos quarterback Russell Wilson has kept a lower offseason profile in his quest to right the wrongs of his first season with the team.
As the Broncos work through OTAs, Wilson is visibly leaner than he was in 2022. He has yet to say how much weight he has lost in recent months -- “I’m not counting’’ -- but he has declared things will 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.’’
On 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 actual weight, especially with teams like the Broncos which have completely turned over their strength and conditioning staff. Wilson is listed at the same weight as last season: 215 pounds.
After Wilson arrived in Denver last year, several personnel executives said privately his upper body looked bigger than it had during his time with the Seattle Seahawks.
Thus far Wilson has classified his leaner look as part of his review from 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 debut season in Denver didn't exactly go to plan. The Broncos had the league’s lowest-scoring offense, fired their head coach in December and missed the playoffs for the seventh straight season. For his part, Wilson looked out of sorts for most of the year with balky footwork to go with eyebrow-raising decisions.
He finished the season with a career-low 16 touchdown passes and career-high 55 sacks -- not what the Broncos traded five draft picks, including two first- and two second-round picks, in addition to three players to acquire. Also, not what they signed on for with a $245 million contract shortly after his arrival.
“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, get the offense out of the league’s bottom third and point the Broncos toward the postseason. And Payton has already drilled into the players the no-looking-back mantra to avoid the rehash of 2022.
In many ways, Payton has intentionally lowered the profile of individual players in the public domain, even to the team’s own website, to hit the organizational reset. As one player put it, “It’s going to be different, a lot different as far as how much you feel like you can be out there.’’
It is certainly a show-don’t-tell approach and that's evident in Wilson’s offseason thus far. Wilson, like many of his teammates, has been courtside at Denver Nuggets playoff games and is there again for the NBA Finals.
But last spring and summer Wilson’s tour of the city, his workouts in San Diego, the visits he made as part of his foundation were a constant on social media. First pitch at the Colorado Rockies game, a night out with his family, an appearance at a charity dinner, a well-thrown spiral to close out an afternoon workout, or even that day’s fit, were all in the social media universe.
There have largely been crickets on those fronts, for the most part, this year. Even when Payton was specifically asked about Wilson’s progress in the offense, he avoided specifics.
“He’s picking it up -- the timing and all of those things that are required," Payton said. "For the first five weeks, we were just lifting and running. Now we're getting into some football activity. We are ahead of schedule on the practice. He's picking it up good -- he looks good and looks sharp.’’
Wilson has called Payton “a great teacher of the game'' as they carve out their working relationship.
"He's doing well," Payton said on Thursday.
And Wilson has already ingratiated himself with some of his newest teammates with the Broncos pointed toward the final two weeks of their offseason program.
“For the longest 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 signing in free agency. “But to be in the locker room with him, to be in the huddle with him has been awesome … he’s a workhorse. He’s addicted to this game … with coach, with us, with the talent that we have one this team; I think we have a really good shot to get Russ to even higher heights than he’s been."