Russell Wilson

Jake Heaps To Become Russell Wilson’s Full-Time QB Coach

Russell Wilson will be in a new home this season, but he will have a familiar face coaching him in Denver. Former pro quarterback and radio personality Jake Heaps is becoming Wilson’s full-time positional coach, as detailed by Kyle Ireland of KSL Sports

The 30-year-old has spent the past four years at ESPN 710 Seattle, allowing him to stay close to home and to Wilson, during the decade the latter spent as a Seahawk. Heaps also worked with other QBs at various levels, but now he will be able to continue his partnership with the nine-time Pro Bowler.

“It is with mixed emotions that I tell you that I will no longer be able to host on Seattle Sports’ station” he said. “As we all know, Russell Wilson was traded and when this happened I knew that my two careers that were perfectly aligned here in Seattle had become complicated… I have resigned to pursue a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to coach Russell Wilson full-time and develop the next generation of quarterbacks.”

Heap went undrafted into the NFL in 2015, after a college career which saw him play for BYU, Kansas and Miami. He originally signed with the Jets, but found his way onto the Seahawks during the 2016 offseason. He didn’t initially make the 53-man roster, but he was brought back to the practice squad in September as insurance. After a brief stint in the CFL, he came back to Seattle in 2017. Like each of his professional stops, though, it ended quickly, leading him to his coaching career.

In Denver, Heaps will work alongside new head coach Nathaniel Hackett, who brought fellow ex-Packers staffer Justin Outten with him to serve as offensive coordinator. He will play an integral role in Wilson’s – and therefore, the team’s – success as they look to contend in the AFC.

Broncos Unlikely To Move Up To First Round

Following their blockbuster acquisition of quarterback Russell Wilson, the Broncos are operating without a first-round pick. Of course, GM George Paton said the trade was still more than worth it, especially after the organization dealt with a rotating cast of QBs over the past half-decade.

“It’s a blessing. We love having first-round picks. We love having the early second, but we also love having a franchise quarterback that sets the tone every day in the building,” Paton said (via’s Coral Smith). “I come in here and he’s here working. There is a reason he’s great. It’s because of the work he puts into it … On that first day (of the draft), we’ll watch Russell Wilson highlights.”

While the Broncos may not have a first-round pick, they’re still loaded will draft capital, including nine picks overall and five selections in the first four rounds. The front office could conceivably have the ammo to move up to the first round, but Paton told reporters that he’s unlikely to move that far up, with the GM hinting at a potential move up the board during the second round (per Mike Klis of 9News on Twitter). The team’s first selection is currently at No. 64 overall.

“When we get to that second day, we’ll be on the phone calling every team. We’ll have an idea of what we want to do on that second day, especially as it starts dropping to the mid rounds,” Paton said. “Then we’ll decide do we want to move, do we want to stand pat, or do we want to move back? That kind of depends on who is there and how many players that we like are there.”

So what will the Broncos look to accomplish in the draft as they make a push toward contention?

“I think we’re in a really good spot,” Paton said. “I think there’s going to be value in those rounds where we can upgrade our team, upgrade our depth, and upgrade our speed which is everything we need to do.”

Broncos GM On Trades, Draft, Free Agency

Since George Paton took over as Broncos GM last year, the team traded the previous regime’s highest-profile player and now has a new one. Both transactions came via blockbuster trades, with the capital acquired from the first helping the Broncos pull off the second.

Denver dealt Von Miller to Los Angeles for second- and third-round 2022 picks. That ended up being a win-win-win deal, with the Rams claiming a Super Bowl title, the Broncos having enough draft picks to feel comfortable parting with a big haul for Russell Wilson, and Miller’s post-trade rebound enticing the Bills to submit a strong free agency offer. The Broncos’ years-long quarterback issue hovered at the root of the Miller trade.

I love Von, but we knew we weren’t good enough with Von to get to where we needed to go at that point,” Paton said via The Athletic’s Jourdan Rodrigue (subscription required). “I knew in the next year or two we needed to get a quarterback. We needed to break through, [be it] trading up in the draft or via trade; free agency, you’re probably not going to get your franchise guy. So we were just going to keep accumulating picks until we got a quarterback. It’s hard to win if you don’t get that guy.”

Paton successfully filled one of the NFL’s longest-standing needs by acquiring Wilson for a package that included three players, two first-round picks, two second-rounders and a fifth. The Miller trade, however, leaves the Broncos with three Day 2 picks this year. Without first-rounders this year and next, the second day of this year’s draft figures to be quite important for a Denver team that will have a franchise-quarterback salary on its books in the not-too-distant future.

Denver, which had started 11 quarterbacks since Peyton Manning‘s retirement, has not carried a notable QB salary on its books since Joe Flacco‘s in 2019. Wilson is set to count just $24MM against the Broncos’ cap this season. While an extension is fully expected to commence by the 2023 season, it is not yet certain a new deal will be in place this year.

“You build a different way,” Paton said of how the Broncos will need to construct future rosters. “You aren’t going to go on a spending splurge every free agency; you just can’t. The model doesn’t work like that. We realize — we had all of these talks about how, three years down the road, how this impacts us.

“Do we have to hit on picks? Yeah. Everyone has to hit on their picks. But the stakes are higher. You gotta hit on the sixth-rounder, the seventh-round safety or else the model doesn’t work. We embrace the challenge just as we embrace the opportunity to have a guy like Russ.”

Paton’s first Broncos draft included cornerstones like Patrick Surtain and Javonte Williams, along with rookie-year contributors in offensive lineman Quinn Meinerz (Round 3), safety Caden Sterns (Round 5), linebacker Baron Browning (Round 3) and edge rusher Jonathon Cooper (Round 7). Nathaniel Hackett has Meinerz, who became a starter after a midseason Graham Glasgow injury, installed as the team’s starting right guard. With a Wilson extension expected to be in the $50MM-per-year ballpark on the horizon, the Broncos will need more low-cost contributors in this draft.

No Timetable For Broncos’ Russell Wilson Extension

It has been quite a while since the Broncos needed to prepare for a quarterback contract extension. With the team trading Jay Cutler after his third season and having Peyton Manning play on one contract during his four-year stay, the franchise has not needed to go through an extension process at the position since Brian Griese in the early 2000s. Their new quarterback’s re-up will feature a bit more intrigue.

The Broncos will enter extension talks with Russell Wilson, who is signed through 2023. But the long-quarterback-starved team is not rushing to finalize a new deal with its new passer, per Jeff Howe of The Athletic, who notes the sides have not begun discussions (subscription required).

Wilson signed a $35MM-per-year contract with the Seahawks in April 2019; that deal topped the market at the time. It has since been topped by six quarterbacks, with Aaron Rodgers‘ $50.3MM-AAV pact leading the way. The Broncos have Wilson attached to $24MM and $27MM cap numbers over the next two seasons, giving the team some flexibility despite a more expensive QB salary hitting their books compared to recent years.

Wilson, 33, signed his previous two extensions with one season remaining on his contract. While the Broncos will be prepared to pay their new quarterback at or near the rising top-market rate, Wilson could increase his leverage by bouncing back from his 2021 injury-plagued season and playing well for his second NFL team. The salary cap is expected to make another big jump in 2023, further bolstering Wilson’s case for a substantial raise. Wilson already carries rare leverage, having seen the Broncos part with five draft picks and three players for him.

Manning’s five-year, $96MM contract from 2012 represents the most lucrative deal the Broncos have authorized. Wilson’s next contract, should it come this offseason or next, figures to be in the $50MM-per-year ballpark. It will be interesting to see if Wilson’s camp pushes for a fully guaranteed extension, following the Browns’ Deshaun Watson re-up, or if a deal in the Matthew Stafford range (four years, $160MM, $63MM fully guaranteed) would be acceptable. Stafford played his first Rams season on his Lions-constructed, $27MM-per-year contact. Wilson could follow that path this year with his new team. However, the perennial Pro Bowler’s two Seattle extensions came after lengthy negotiations. The Seahawks were leery of a third such process. It would not surprise if the newly relocated QB — whose agent has one NFL client — eventually pursues an extension closer in structure to Watson’s.

AFC Rumors: Colbert, Browning, Broncos

Current Steelers’ general manager Kevin Colbert, who will be stepping down from his role after the 2022 NFL Draft, held a conference call with reporters today that produced quite a few nuggets of information.

Colbert expounded a bit on their moves to replace longtime quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. He explained that Pittsburgh didn’t want to sacrifice draft capital in order to add a veteran quarterback, according to Brooke Pryor of ESPN. This led them to target Mitchell Trubisky, who they were able to sign in free agency for a very reasonable price. Pryor reported that he went on to say that signing Trubisky does not preclude them from taking a quarterback in the Draft.

Colbert claimed they have starters at every position except for strong safety, according to Mark Kaboly of The Athletic, while failing to mention any specific targets to fill the role. Kaboly did note that Colbert said they’ve focused on targeting “young veteran players” in free agency.

Commenting on his eventual replacement, Colbert said they’ve completed the first round of interviews with 16 candidates and that they intend to start the second round of interviews after the Draft, according to Pryor.

Here are a few other rumors from the AFC, these concerning the Broncos of Mile High:

  • With the addition of linebacker Alex Singleton, the Broncos will give linebacker Baron Browning a look at outside linebacker, according to Mike Klis of 9News. Browning went back and forth a bit between the positions at Ohio State, so he should be able to make the switch without too many issues. He’ll work with new outside linebackers coach Bert Watts.
  • Klis also reported that new Broncos’ quarterback Russell Wilson will have a say in the tailoring of the new offense. Wilson’s lack of agency in Seattle was a great frustration for the veteran quarterback and new Broncos’ head coach Nathaniel Hackett will make sure that isn’t the case in Denver.

Eagles Made “Competitive Offer” For Marcus Williams; Latest On WR, QB Pursuits

The Eagles have signed edge defender Haason Reddick and wide receiver Zach Pascal this offseason and otherwise have been mostly quiet in terms of adding outside talent. But that hasn’t been for lack of trying.

As Tim McManus of (subscription required) writes, Philadelphia made an effort to sign former Saints safety Marcus Williams. Per Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirer (subscription required), the Eagles made a competitive offer to Williams, who ultimately signed a five-year, $70MM contract with the Ravens.

GM Howie Roseman also took some big swings at other positions. We already knew that the club nearly completed a trade for Falcons wideout Calvin Ridley before news of his gambling suspension surfaced, and according to McLane, the Eagles also had interest in WR Robert Woods. Woods was under contract with the Rams and was recently traded to the Titans, but Los Angeles gave him a say in his next destination, and he chose Tennessee over Philadelphia.

Precipitating the Rams’ trade of Woods was the club’s acquisition of Allen Robinson, whom Roseman also pursued. But Robinson, like Woods and most other notable players changing teams this offseason, elected to go elsewhere.

As McLane writes, the Eagles’ status as an also-ran when it comes to this year’s open market talent pool is perhaps a function of how players outside the organization view Philadelphia’s chances to compete in 2022. And, of course, a team’s chances to compete are inextricably linked to that team’s QB.

While it is unfair to exclusively blame incumbent signal-caller Jalen Hurts for the Eagles’ inability to make more FA or trade acquisitions thus far in 2022, McLane confirms that the Eagles were interested in Deshaun Watson and Russell Wilson, and he believes that Roseman will continue to do everything he can to find an upgrade over Hurts.

That could mean using one of his three first-round picks in next month’s draft on a passer, though McLane thinks that Roseman will not do so and will instead trade one of those picks to enhance his draft capital in 2023, when the QB prospects are expected to be better than this year’s crop. And assuming that the Eagles do not draft a quarterback this year, and do not view a trade candidate like Jimmy Garoppolo or Baker Mayfield as a worthy investment, then Hurts will get another chance to prove his long-term value.

Latest On Browns’ Baker Mayfield Trade Talks, Deshaun Watson Deal

The flurry of quarterback moves has left the Browns with few options regarding their previous starter. The team is not planning to hold onto Baker Mayfield in hopes of an injury changing the marketplace, preferring to give him a fresh start immediately.

Cleveland hopes to unload Mayfield soon, Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer notes in an expansive piece, but the team should not be expected to receive a great return. In addition to the reduced market, the Browns are not interested in paying part of Mayfield’s fifth-year option salary ($18.9MM) to facilitate a trade, Cabot adds. Mayfield requested a trade shortly before the Browns made their historic offer to Deshaun Watson.

Despite Sam Darnold fetching three draft choices — including a 2022 second-rounder — from the Panthers last year, the Browns have limited options for their more proven starter. Darnold’s disappointing season notwithstanding, the Panthers are not believed to be interested in Mayfield. The Seahawks do still appear on the radar, with Cabot indicating they have inquired on the disgruntled QB and may become more open to a deal at a certain price point. The Browns are not expecting a first-round pick here; they would need to explore another avenue to recoup one of the first-rounders they lost by trading for Watson.

While this saga is not at the point where the Browns are considering releasing Mayfield, Cabot adds if that were to happen the Steelers would be interested (video link). Pittsburgh gave Mitchell Trubisky a two-year contract, but his barely $7MM-per-year salary leaves the team open to exploring other options or drafting a passer early.

Although the Watson-to-Cleveland buzz picked up after the Combine, Cabot reports the Browns informed Mayfield’s camp in Indianapolis they would only attempt to replace him with an elite QB like Watson or Russell Wilson. After the Browns informed him they would aim to accommodate Mayfield in a trade, the QB did not list the Lions, Panthers or Texans as desirable spots and was instead intrigued by the Colts. Indy discussed Mayfield with Cleveland but made a deal to acquire Matt Ryan.

Additionally, Cabot reports Mayfield’s trade request did not spur the Browns to make their monster offer for Watson, who is now signed to a $230MM fully guaranteed contract. Watson did narrow his list to the Falcons and Saints, but his camp is believed to have brought the Browns back into the mix. Cleveland’s fully guaranteed proposal partially surfaced to convince Watson to play in a cold-weather city.

That process — and the subsequent QB decisions from Indy, Atlanta and New Orleans — has left Mayfield and with few options. Jimmy Garoppolo‘s status further complicates the Mayfield matter, as does the surgery Mayfield underwent on his non-throwing shoulder. The coming days could determine how much the Seahawks truly like Drew Lock, as they have indicated at every turn since acquiring him, or if they are willing to part with modest draft capital for a more experienced option.

Latest On Seahawks-Broncos’ Russell Wilson Trade

Although the Broncos have been in need at quarterback for six years, GM George Paton said Seahawks GM John Schneider initiated the Russell Wilson trade talks. A Schneider text to Paton got the ball rolling on the trade at the Senior Bowl, Ryan O’Halloran of the Denver Post notes.

Schneider expected the Broncos to be interested, and the talks heated up at the Combine. While Denver was also linked to Aaron Rodgers for nearly a year, Paton said Wilson was the team’s No. 1 priority throughout the offseason. The Broncos planned to do “anything it took” to acquire Wilson, Jeff Legwold of tweets. The deal sent the Seahawks five draft picks and three players, including quarterback Drew Lock, who as of now figures to factor in prominently in Seattle’s post-Wilson QB plans.

The Seahawks’ official statements, while complimentary of the nine-time Pro Bowler overall, included interesting language. All three indicated the quarterback wanting out catalyzed the trade. Jody Allen‘s statement said Wilson “made it clear” he wanted a change, with the owner’s short message also saying she hopes the next Seahawks squad will be “fully engaged.” (A previous report by The Athletic included select anonymous players accusing Wilson of checking out last season, which seems to conflict with the QB’s quest to return earlier than expected from thumb surgery.) Pete Carroll‘s statement backed Allen’s, as could be expected, and said Wilson “wanted something different.”

Wilson called the separation mutual, and Schneider said Wednesday he did not expect the future Hall of Fame passer to sign another Seahawks extension, via’s Brady Henderson (on Twitter). Wilson’s 2019 extension expires after the 2023 season, though the Broncos will be expected to re-sign him either this offseason or in 2023.

A conversation with Paton and Wilson’s faith in the Broncos’ roster prompted him to waive his no-trade clause and target Denver as a destination, O’Halloran adds, and Paton said the Broncos’ new quarterback was already en route to Denver when news of Rodgers’ extension surfaced last week. John Elway, who is now a Broncos consultant after 10 years as the team’s GM and one in a different executive role, was one of the few people Paton brought into the loop on the prospective Wilson trade.

In landing the 33-year-old Wilson, the Broncos will presumably have a longer run with this particular trade acquisition than they did with Peyton Manning or would have with Rodgers. Wilson is still planning to play past age 40.

Broncos Interested In Bobby Wagner?

Linked to every non-Seahawks NFC West franchise, Bobby Wagner appears to have heard from their other future Hall of Fame 2012 draftee. Russell Wilson is attempting to recruit Wagner to Denver, Jeremy Fowler of tweets.

Wilson is not officially a member of the Broncos yet, with trades not yet official until Wednesday’s start of the 2022 league year, but he is getting an early start as the face of the franchise. Wilson and Wagner played together in Seattle for 10 seasons. Each departed on the same day, with the Seahawks trading Wilson and making Wagner a cap casualty.

Wagner still has seen extensive interest come his way, per Fowler. The Cardinals, Rams and 49ers are believed to be interested, though the Cowboys — who employ ex-Seahawks DC Dan Quinn as their defensive play-caller — do not appear to be a serious suitor. The Broncos have a need at inside linebacker, with both Alexander Johnson and Josey Jewell in free agency. But they have needs at premium positions — such as edge rusher and right tackle — as well.

A six-time All-Pro, Wagner has made the past eight Pro Bowls and would certainly help a Broncos defense that has seen several starters either traded (Shelby Harris) or hit free agency (Johnson, Jewell, Kareem Jackson, Bryce Callahan). Denver has also used a 3-4 defense for the past seven seasons, though with sub-packages more common than base sets, the veteran middle linebacker moving from Seattle’s 4-3 scheme to a different front-seven setup likely would not be much of an issue.

QB Rumors: Trubisky, Winston, Taylor, Lock

The Giants’ new head coach, Brian Daboll, worked with free agent quarterback Mitchell Trubisky when they were both with the Bills last year (Daboll as offensive coordinator). Well, according to Dan Graziano of ESPN, Daboll has interest in luring Trubisky to join him in New York.

There’s been some interest in bringing Trubisky to Pittsburgh, as well, where a path to starting is much more clear. If Daboll’s familiarity with the sixth-year quarterback is able to attract him to the Giants, though, the head coach sees the potential for him to mirror the results of Ryan Tannehill in Tennessee. A quick refresher: Tannehill arrived in Nashville in 2019 in a trade with the Dolphins. Tannehill started the season in the role of back up quarterback to the incumbent starter Marcus Mariota. After a 2-4 start to the season, Mariota was benched in favor of Tannehill, who went 7-3 for the rest of the year and led the Titans to the AFC Championship Game.

Daboll holds hope that, while Daniel Jones may retain the starting job in New York, if the need presents itself, Trubisky could provide the same effect as Tannehill.

Some other notes concerning quarterbacks around the league:

  • Another option the Steelers could be looking into, Jameis Winston is looking like the most likely starting quarterback for the Saints in 2022, according to Graziano. With Teddy Bridgewater headed to free agency, a return to New Orleans could be possible, and Winston may see some opportunities in testing the free agent market, himself. But Winston is a locker room favorite that saw success on the Saints before tearing his ACL midseason last year.
  • Tyrod Taylor lost the starting job in Houston last year to rookie quarterback Davis Mills. With Mills expected to return to the starting position next year, the Texans do have interest in bringing Taylor back in the role of back up quarterback, according to ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler. Taylor has chased starting jobs throughout his career and has seen some success at times. He may search for a new opportunity to start, but, if not, Taylor has shown professionalism several times in back up roles mentoring young quarterbacks.
  • After receiving Drew Lock in the Russell Wilson-trade with the Broncos, Seattle is considering the elements to Lock’s lack of success in Denver, according to Fowler. Some believe that the revolving door of offensive coordinators contributed to his struggles. Seattle is analyzing whether they believe in Pete Carroll‘s ability to develop Lock, who showed glimpses of promise in his early appearances as a Bronco, or whether they need to make moves for Deshaun Watson to win now.