As it stands now, the Broncos will not make a draft pick until early in the third round. Denver holds the Nos. 67 and 68 overall choices, having traded out of the first round (twice) and second.
The team, which dealt its top two 2023 draft choices for Russell Wilson and unloaded the pick it obtained for Bradley Chubb — No. 29 overall — for Sean Payton, has fielded calls on Jerry Jeudy and Courtland Sutton. Payton said both players are in the team’s plans, after high trade prices emerged for each. When asked about Jeudy, GM George Paton confirmed the former first-round pick will be back.
“We’re high — really high — on Jerry. We don’t anticipate doing anything with Jerry,” Paton said regarding a potential Jeudy trade, via Denver7’s Troy Renck. “Jerry finished the season strong — the last five games, he had over 500 yards. He was one of the top receivers in the league. We like Jerry, and he’s going to be here.”
While this does not shut down the prospect of the Broncos dealing the John Elway-era investment, the team moving its best wide receiver ahead of a critical Wilson season has always been a risky proposition. Jeudy, 24 on Monday, finished with a career-high 972 receiving yards and six touchdowns last season. The Broncos have wanted a first-round pick in a prospective trade; it is fairly clear no team has offered that.
That said, Paton did not confirm the team would pick up Jeudy’s fifth-year option. Because Jeudy has not made a Pro Bowl, the Alabama alum would be in line for a $14.12MM fully guaranteed 2024 salary if the Broncos exercised the option. They have until May 2 to do so. Not indicating they will pick up the option does leave the door open to the Broncos trading Jeudy — and letting his next team decide on the option — but that trail has been cold for weeks.
The Ravens discussed Sutton with the Broncos earlier this offseason, and The Athletic’s Jeff Zrebiec notes the teams looked to be far along toward a potential trade (subscription required). But the Broncos backed out of the talks. Baltimore has since signed Odell Beckham Jr., giving the eight-year veteran a $15MM guarantee. Sutton is due a $14MM base salary this year; that figure is guaranteed. The Broncos have wanted a second-round pick for Sutton, whom Paton extended (on a four-year, $60MM deal) during the 2021 season.
It is unclear exactly when the Ravens-Broncos talks neared a potential deal; Payton expressed support for both to be back March 26. It will not be safe to lock in Jeudy or Sutton as Broncos until next Friday, when the second round of the draft begins. But the Payton-Paton tandem has kept pointing to both starters returning.
Denver is on track to have Tim Patrick back from a training camp ACL tear; the possession receiver has received full clearance for football activities. The Broncos gave both Patrick and Sutton extensions just before the 2022 offseason led to a market shift at the position, but 2021 represents the only window in which both joined Jeudy as healthy. Jeudy also suffered a high ankle sprain that season, shelving him for several games. The Broncos, who lost Sutton to an ACL tear in 2020, have been unable to keep ex-second-rounder KJ Hamler on the field as well. Hamler sustained a partial pectoral tear recently and will be sidelined for months.
The team did bring in Marquez Callaway, who played for Payton in New Orleans, and was in on free agents Allen Lazard and Adam Thielen. One of the latter two signing would have created a crowded receiver room. As of now, however, the Broncos are mostly rolling with their holdover receivers. Will a move by Day 2 of the draft change the equation?