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Brees: Payton can unlock Wilson's prime years

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Drew Brees said he believes new Denver Broncos head coach Sean Payton can bring out the best version of Russell Wilson we've ever seen.

"To me, this is set up to be Russell Wilson's prime, especially with Sean Payton and a system that's going to be built around him," Brees told ESPN's Ed Werder on Wednesday. "This is a great opportunity for Russell Wilson."

Brees and Payton spent 15 seasons together with the New Orleans Saints. Although Brees was a productive quarterback during the beginning of his career with the then-San Diego Chargers, he didn't blossom into a Hall of Fame-caliber player until paired with Payton in 2006.

Wilson was on his own path to Canton after a standout decade with the Seattle Seahawks, which included two Super Bowl appearances, one championship, and nine Pro Bowl nominations.

However, Wilson produced the worst season of his career in 2022 following a blockbuster trade to Denver.

Wilson posted career-worst marks in completion percentage (60.5%), touchdown passes (16), passer rating (84.4), sacks taken (55), and adjusted yards per attempt (6.9). His four regular-season wins are the fewest he's posted across a single campaign.

After starting every game over the first nine years, the 34-year-old missed time for the second straight season. A concussion and hamstring injury sidelined Wilson for two contests in 2022.

Payton's primary task will be revitalizing Wilson, who is just two seasons removed from a 40-touchdown campaign. The head coach said Wednesday that he's "excited" to work with Wilson.

"Russell is a hard worker and has played at a high level and won a lot of games in this league," Payton told Jeff Duncan of The Times-Picayune. "The pressure is on us to put a good run game together and reduce the degree of difficulty on his position."

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