By now it's no secret that the short-lived Russell Wilson era in Denver did not go all that smoothly. In fact, even as Wilson was still starting at quarterback for the Broncos last season, the widespread expectation around the league was that there would be no circumstance in which Wilson would be returning to the Mile High City in 2024. That proved to be true. On March 4th, the Broncos announced they would be releasing Russell Wilson, and on March 15th — nearly two years to the day since the Broncos traded two 1st-round picks, two 2nd-round picks, a 5th-round pick, Drew Lock, Shelby Harris, and Noah Fant for Wilson, Wilson signed with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Now, even as Russell Wilson has been in Pittsburgh for three months, the critiques coming out of Denver have not stopped. FOX NFL broadcaster and former Denver Broncos offensive lineman Mark Schlereth has been as critical as anyone in the media, and he took it to a new level recently, claiming that Wilson is “delusional” and calling the veteran quarterback out for his “toxic positivity.”

“I think when you’re delusional, you think you can point the finger at eight million different places that say, ‘This is why this happened. This is why.’ That toxic positivity and surrounding yourself with people that basically (say), ‘It’s not your fault man.’ I mean, that’s not derogatory. That’s just a fact,” Schlereth said during a recent episode of his The Stinkin' Truth Podcast. 

It's not the first time that the three-time Super Bowl champion has voiced his issues with how Russell Wilson played and handled his time in Denver. Back in May, Schlereth went in on Wilson for his tendency to hold the ball a little too long, claiming that this is what would cause Pittsburgh to have their first losing season in Mike Tomlin's near two-decade-long tenure.

“You’re holding the ball and you’re taking sacks. The sack totals are a quarterback-driven statistic. I look at the Pittsburgh Steelers and what an incredible run of never having a losing season… you take 50 sacks, you take 3.2 seconds to throw the football. You take those sacks, you’re not going to win games.”

However, in the Steel City, early reviews of Russell Wilson have been incredibly positive, according to The Athletic's Mark Kaboly.

“One team source said the Steelers haven’t seen somebody work as hard as Wilson at his craft since the early days of Antonio Brown, who was notorious for the effort he put into his game to become the best wide receiver in the league for a span of more than five years,” Kaboly wrote.

While some have simply noted how things appear to be different for Russell Wilson in Pittsburgh, others have turned the finger of blame around and pointed it at Broncos head coach Sean Payton.

“Sean Payton does have a reputation in the NFL of being a guy who’s difficult to deal with. So that’s another reason I want to give Russell the benefit of the doubt with the Steelers,” says Ray Fittipaldo of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (h/t Chris Ward of Steelers Now). “Sometimes just getting away from a toxic coach can be a good thing. Maybe you get into a more positive situation. Maybe you can get back to where you were in Seattle.”

enver Broncos quarterback Bo Nix (10) during organized team activities at Centura Health Training Center.
© Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

The future QB1 for the Denver Broncos

Although there's no guarantee that his debut will come this season, in time, the QB1 for the Denver Broncos will be rookie quarterback Bo Nix. Nix, a 24-year-old Heisman finalist out of Oregon, has impressed the Broncos coaching staff thus far in a three-way battle with Jarrett Stidham and Zach Wilson for the starting job, with offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi offering some high praise for how Nix has performed throughout his first NFL minicamp.

“You can feel his 61 games played in college. With experience, a calmness comes along with it. He certainly doesn't feel like a rookie,” Lombardi said, per Jeff Legwold of “There is a maturity level. I think when you draft a guy who is a little bit older, you hope that [maturity] comes with it, but he's certainly shown that.”

Of course, teams are eager to speak about the highs each of their rookies reached in the offseason, so what the Broncos are saying about Nix could be taken with a grain of salt. But given how toxic the quarterback room in Denver was last year, healthy competition among this Broncos trio of QB's isn't the worst thing in the world.