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Fittingly, Russell Wilson celebrated becoming a Pittsburgh Steeler by echoing the team's battle cry. Wilson famously said "Let's Ride" on numerous occasions during his time with the Denver Broncos, and Pittsburgh's new quarterback is already embracing his new team's unofficial mantra. 

"What's up Steeler Nation," Wilson said shortly after signing his new contract. "Fired up to wear the black and gold. Here we go." 

That's not the only message Wilson shared on Friday. During his introductory press conference, Wilson shared that he has communicated with Kenny Pickett, whom he will compete with to be the team's starting quarterback in 2024. 

"I got to talk to him a little bit and I just told him, 'Hey let's go out there, let's be the best version of ourselves to try to make this team better,'" Wilson said of his conversation with Pickett, via WXPI

Prior to signing Wilson, the Steelers said that they would bring in competition for Pickett, whose career so far has had its share of ups and downs. The 2022 first-round pick enjoyed a largely successful rookie season, but his sophomore campaign was marred by inconsistent play and an injury that ultimately ended his season early. 

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Wilson showed his veteran savvy regarding answering media questions when he was asked if his role has already been defined and what he expects. 

"I'm expecting us to win," Wilson said. "I'm expecting us to do everything we can to enjoy this process and get better every single day." 

Wilson has been one of several big moves made by the Steelers during the first week of free agency. Pittsburgh also traded Diontae Johnson to the Panthers in exchange for cornerback Donte Jackson and an upgraded draft pick. The Steelers made another splash when they signed former Ravens linebacker Patrick Queen to a three-year deal. 

While the Wilson era in Pittsburgh is just starting, his tenure with the Broncos came to an end earlier this week. The Broncos released him on Wednesday night (with a post-June 1 designation, according to ESPN). Denver will now absorb the massive cap hit that comes with cutting loose the nine-time Pro Bowl quarterback. 

By virtue of releasing Wilson, the Broncos take on a $53 million dead cap hit this season and a $32 million hit in 2025. The Broncos are paying Wilson $37.79 million to play for the Steelers in 2024. 

Wilson will play for the veteran minimum salary of $1.21 million. He now restarts his career with a franchise that hasn't had a losing season since 2003. 

Wilson's time in Denver was one of the oddest periods in franchise history. His initial signing with the Broncos was major news at the time, and it was widely celebrated by Broncos fans. The marriage quickly went south, however, as Wilson and the Broncos endured a rocky 2022 season. Russell was particularly bad; he completed barely over 60% of his passes with just 16 touchdowns in 15 games. 

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Wilson was much better in 2023, his first and ultimately last season with head coach Sean Payton, who was hired last offseason. But despite his improved play, Wilson was benched for the Broncos' final two games, an indication that his time with the Broncs was coming to an end. 

Denver's offseason has been interesting to say the least. Along with parting with Wilson, the Broncos released Pro Bowl safety Justin Simmons and traded receiver and former first-round Jerry Jeudy to the Cleveland Browns for fifth- and sixth-round picks. 

Will the Broncos' roster rebuild work? While it's too early to tell, one thing we know is that Payton will bear the brunt of the responsibility for whatever transpires over the next few years. Wilson's remaining cap hit only adds to Payton's uphill climb in Denver. 

While the Broncos are moving on, Wilson is looking forward to his new chapter in Pittsburgh. Russell said he chose to sign with the Steelers because of the team's championship pedigree. 

"We've got some amazing players," Wilson said while alluding to new teammates Cameron HeywardT.J. WattMinkah Fitzpatrick and George Pickens among others. "It's a great place to be. Grateful for the opportunity to be able to get after it and do what we came there to do, and that's to win football games."