The Denver Broncos are not trading either of their top two wide receivers.
Despite weeks of speculation that the Broncos could unload Courtland Sutton and Jerry Jeudy, head coach Sean Payton is making it clear that Denver has no interest in trading their starting wide receivers.
Via NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero:
“I see and read just like everyone else does,” Payton said on Sunday durring the Annual League Meeting. “Then occasionally, when someone really crowds the plate, I throw a fastball right at their chin, and they back up, and they’re like, ‘Alright.’ And so I haven’t thrown any fastballs lately, but we’re not trading those two players.
Both Sutton and Jeudy have been cornerstones of the Broncos’ roster in recent years, with both serving as go-to receivers in each of the past three seasons. In the case of Sutton, he’s just 27 years old and a former Pro Bowler. As far as Jeudy is concerned, he had a breakout season in his third year last season, leading the Broncos in receiving — 67 receptions for 972 yards and four touchdowns.
Although Denver does have receiver Tim Patrick returning after missing a full season due to a torn ACL, the Broncos have very little depth beyond Sutton and Jeudy at the position. Making matters even worse is K.J. Hamler recently suffered a partially torn pectoral muscle and could be sidelined until the end of September.
It would make little sense to trade either of their proven receivers for draft capital — especially considering Russell Wilson’s struggles last season.
Payton explained why Sutton and Jeudy’s names have popped up in trade chatter in recent weeks, attributing it to the Broncos’ lack of draft picks as to why teams are reaching out to them.
“When people call and the phone rings like it does this time of year, (general manager) George Paton’s job is to pick it up and say, ‘Hey. Tell you what, we’re not.’ And so, we’ve received calls, you bet,” explains Payton. “Those are two good football players. But we’re in the business of gathering talent right now. Why do people call? Because they know we’re void of draft picks and that we might, because there was some discussions a year ago, I think, regarding Courtland. But we like the current group that we’re working with.”
Sutton does have a pretty big cap hit for the 2023 season — $18.3 million cap hit, $14 million base salary — which represents the second-highest figure on the team behind Wilson’s $22 million cap hit. However, there’s an out in his contract after this season where the Broncos would absorb just a $7.7 million dead cap hit by unloading him. Despite his production not exactly matching his salary — he’s the sixth-highest paid receiver in the league — it’s hard to envision the Broncos getting a receiver back in a trade that ends up better than Sutton.
Jeudy’s name has been connected to a number of teams — including the Dallas Cowboys, before they made a deal for Brandin Cooks — and would likely fetch the best draft capital in any potential trade. The three-year receiver is still on his rookie deal and is due to earn just $4.8 million next season. Furthermore, he still has a fifth-year option that can be opted into by May 1.
ESPN’s Jeff Legwold reported on the interest surrounding both receivers on Saturday, most notably Jeudy.
“League sources, including some with teams that have been in contact with the Broncos, have said so far the Broncos have been resolute about getting a first- or second-round pick in any deal that involved Jeudy,” reported Legwold.
While it’s true that the Broncos are lacking a first and second-round draft pick in this year’s draft due to trades for Payton and Wilson over the past year, it doesn’t mean Denver should surrender their farm system at the receiver position just to get a pick.
If the Broncos hope to have any chance of Wilson recapturing the form that made him a nine-time Pro Bowler in Seattle, Denver needs to retain Sutton and Jeudy heading into 2023.