Russell Wilson has become the butt of many jokes, and that’s par for the course when a team eats a record amount of cap money to cut you. However, those making the jokes are missing the point.

Wilson still has a legitimate shot to deliver a major turnaround with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Late Sunday, reports broke that Wilson is joining the Steelers on a league-minimum deal valued around $1.2 million. He is signing such a friendly deal in part because the Denver Broncos are on the hook for nearly $40 million Wilson is still owed.

After going 11-19 as the starter for the Broncos, his reported signing by the Steelers drew quite a reaction on social media. A handful of people even joke this will lead to Mike Tomlin’s first-ever losing season as head coach in Pittsburgh.

Why the jokes are missing the point

Look, I get it. When you sign a massive deal with Super Bowl expectations, you cannot go 4-11 overall your first season with a 16-to-11 TD-to-INT ratio.

Except that’s exactly what Wilson had with the Broncos in 2022, and that’s why the jokes persist. However, he showed signs of being the more efficient version of himself in 2023.

ESPN’s Dan Orlovsky put it perfectly in an interview with Pat McAfee:

“Russell Wilson, last year, in the midst of chaos and not great offensive line play, skill position players that weren’t healthy all the time, was a top-10, top-12 quarterback for most of the season,” Orlovsky explained.

In fact, Wilson’s completion percentage was at 66.4%, the third-best performance of his career and his best number since 2020. He also threw for 26 touchdowns with just 8 interceptions.

Wilson also demonstrated he could perform in crunch time, delivering 4 game-winning drives and a handful of comebacks. Those numbers, and his 7-8 record as a starter last season, came in spite of a Denver defense that ranked 27th in the NFL in scoring defense.

Translation? Wilson was more the scapegoat than the problem for Denver’s 2023 performance.

Of course, landing at a new destination does not guarantee anything. Pittsburgh had its own share of issues last season, and the Steelers also play in one of the toughest divisions in the NFL.

Still, Wilson has the pieces at his disposal to be successful, and we’ll see if he can indeed revive his career trajectory in 2024.