DENVER — Texts and math, that's how the Broncos' acquisition of Russell Wilson revealed itself as seismic.
As a beat reporter covering the Broncos since 2014, my phone hasn't buzzed like this since Peyton Manning played for the team. Multiple national radio spots were requested and fulfilled on shows that typically seek my appearances once a season. It has been a reflection of covering a bad and boring team.
"I love the QBs I have had, man. But, to your point, yes, premier QBs in this league are so crucial. Look at end of year where the quarterbacks are at. It matters," left guard Dalton Risner told Denver7. "I think we are part of that national conversation now. Not only because we have Russell Wilson but we have the team to support Russell."
With one blockbuster trade — Denver sent five draft picks and three players to Seattle — the Broncos became relevant overnight. Everything seems possible again. The first winning season since 2016. The first playoff playoff berth since 2015. A division title. A Super Bowl victory. Nothing is off limits because the Broncos now have their Guy. A player, who on every Sunday can stare the opposing quarterback in the eyes and not flinch.
Russell Wilson is that good. For me, he's the modern-day Roger Staubach, the Dallas Cowboys Hall of Famer, who showed that scrambling with purpose and accuracy on deep balls can coexist.
The onus will be on first-year coach Nathaniel Hackett to listen to and work with Wilson, who is as demanding and detailed as any quarterback in the league. Having worked with back-to-back MVP Aaron Rodgers should help Hackett tremendously as he learned to challenge the star and incorporate his ideas and suggestions.
This should not be an issue, which it clearly was in Wilson's final seasons in Seattle, where he felt frustrated that his input wasn't being used or ignored.
Hackett prides himself on being part of a Green Bay staff that had a battery of coaches in first time positions. They worked in harmony and spawned loyalty by showing they cared for the players. But if we are being honest, Rodgers remained the hub of the universe. Without his excellence, everything else becomes more difficult.
Now Hackett has his Rodgers in Wilson. Yes, Russell is that good. He is on a Hall of Fame track. Don't listen to those who spout the statistic that he's never received an MVP vote. The football voting is archaic because you can only vote for one player, not 10 like in baseball. He would have finished in the top five multiple times.
The Broncos are now a legitimate threat to win the AFC West and make a deep playoff run. Trust me when I say nobody was talking about them nationally without Wilson.
Where adjectives fail, numbers succeed with Wilson. Comparing his stats since Super Bowl 50 with the Broncos' quarterbacks should warm the hearts of fans like a cabin fire. The juxtaposition is jarring, if not tantalizing.
Since 2016, Wilson owns a 58-35-1 record with 186 touchdowns, 53 interceptions and a 65.2% completion rate. He has made the Pro Bowl five straight seasons.
During that same stretch, the Broncos quarterbacks — there have been 11 starters since Peyton Manning retired — are 39-58 with 115 touchdowns, 90 interceptions and a 61% completion rate. There have been zero Pro Bowl appearances.
So for those not in the mood to crunch the numbers, the snapshot: Wilson has 71 more touchdowns, 37 fewer interceptions and 2,213 additional yards. Did I mention that Wilson has also run for 2,259 yards and 11 touchdowns during this time and caught a score? And no one has been better at throwing the deep ball than Wilson.
There's a reason his career path appears destined to end in Canton even if he doesn't add another Super Bowl ring. He helped crushed Denver in Super Bowl 48, and aims to become the third quarterback to start and win a Super Bowl with two teams, joining Manning and Tom Brady.
Are there some issues with Wilson? Yeah, but if you focus on those I imagine Cindy Crawford's mole bothers you as well. This is a superstar, and he shows up every Sunday. He has missed three starts in his career, all last season with a fluky finger injury on his throwing hand.
If there's one thing the Broncos must address, it is better pass protection. Wilson has been sacked 263 times since 2016, a startling number that can be traced to him extending plays and underwhelming line play. The Broncos have multiple priorities this offseason, including a long-term solution at right tackle, most likely in the draft.
Every team that won its division last season had the best quarterback. Wilson gives the Broncos a chance to match up favorably against Patrick Mahomes, Justin Herbert and Derek Carr. The Broncos have dropped 13 straight to the Chiefs and are 5-13 in the AFC West over the last three seasons. Those days are over.
Wilson might not win the division crown this year or go to the Super Bowl. But during his time in Denver — I put it at five years minimum given that he's only 33 — he should claim multiple AFC West titles and appear in a Super Bowl, if not win one. This is who he is. Wilson, who cannot be introduced to the Denver media until Wednesday at the earliest when the new league year begins, has performed his best in the biggest moments.
No trade is perfect. But, let's not lose sight of what has happened. Wilson has changed everything.