Courtland Sutton

Extension Candidate: Courtland Sutton

Having fully transitioned at wide receiver following the in-season trades of Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders, the Broncos have assembled an interesting group of pass catchers. Denver’s quartet consists of a first-rounder (Jerry Jeudy), two second-rounders (Courtland Sutton, K.J. Hamler) and a contract-year UDFA (Tim Patrick) — all tied to rookie contracts or an RFA tender.

Joining Patrick in entering a contract year, Sutton is in line to be the first Broncos wideout to sign a lucrative extension since Sanders’ September 2016 re-up. A Sutton deal would top Thomas’ five-year, $70MM pact as the richest the Broncos have given a receiver. But a few factors complicate the 25-year-old playmaker’s status going into his fourth season, making him one of the more interesting 2021 extension candidates.

Sutton’s rookie-year form prompted the Broncos to trade Thomas, and the SMU product built on that in 2019. Despite Denver using three starting QBs in Sutton’s second year, the jump-ball standout served as the top weapon in an offense lacking other notable targets. The 6-foot-4 pass catcher’s 72-reception, 1,112-yard season — with an aging Joe Flacco, rookie Drew Lock and inexperienced backup Brandon Allen targeting him — garnered a Pro Bowl nod and opened the door to the prospect of an extension.

The Broncos then became the first team since the 2003 Cardinals to select receivers in the first and second rounds of a draft, but Sutton’s ACL tear — after just 31 snaps — changed the club’s plans to have the draftees develop in a Sutton-centered attack. Denver will now give its hopeful Sutton-Jeudy-Hamler trio, with Patrick mixing in, another try.

Since Sutton’s injury, the Broncos hired a new GM. But George Paton identified Sutton as a core player the Broncos want to keep around long-term. They have an opening for a veteran receiver contract, with Jeudy and Hamler not extension-eligible for a while and only one skill-position player — Melvin Gordon, whose roster spot may not be assured — making midlevel money. Sutton’s production with suboptimal quarterback play points to untapped potential for when/if the Broncos acquire a long-term passer.

Waiting makes some sense for both parties. Sutton is not expected to begin camp on the active/PUP list and will be on track to lead or co-lead Denver’s receiving corps this season. The Broncos making an offer before they determine Sutton’s fit alongside the younger receivers in Pat Shurmur‘s offense would be a bit of a gamble, but the team could also reap some value if Sutton wanted to lock in a slightly lower AAV now as protection against a sluggish season following ACL rehab. The Broncos certainly have the cap space to do a deal now or in the fall; their $28MM in room ranks behind only the Jaguars.

An in-season extension could be in play, too. That would make for an interesting middle ground — similar to Garett Bolles‘ November 2020 deal — and avoid a situation where this forces the Broncos to use their franchise tag for a third straight year. Of course, if Sutton proves willing to bet on himself going into a post-injury contract year, it would take a big offer to convince him to bypass a potential free agency bid or — in the more likely scenario — the leverage that comes with being tagged.

Sutton picking up where he left off would be a good problem for the Broncos, who have not featured this kind of depth at receiver since the mid-2010s. This has likely caught the attention of Aaron Rodgers, though that situation has produced little of consequence in months. A return to form would put Sutton on the radar to land a deal in the Kenny Golladay range — four years, $72MM — with perhaps some upside from this salary place, as the cap balloons over $200MM after 2021’s dip.

Sutton’s production alongside Jeudy will illustrate how the Broncos view him. With the fifth-year option allowing the Broncos to table Jeudy’s payday — if the impressive route runner proves worthy — until 2024, a window for a Sutton extension should be open. Given the Rodgers connection and the receiving corps’ new look since Sutton’s last full season, his contract status will be monitoring in the coming weeks and/or months.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC West Notes: Raiders, Sutton, Chubb

When the Raiders selected Damon Arnette 19th overall last year, it marked the second straight year the Jon GrudenMike Mayock regime stunned draft viewers in Round 1. Despite multiple thumb issues and a placement on the Raiders’ reserve/COVID-19 list, Arnette started seven games as a rookie. Pro Football Focus graded Arnette as a bottom-10 cornerback, however, and the Raiders may not have the Ohio State product in their lineup plans this year. Arnette has nearly drifted off the Raiders’ radar, Vic Tafur of The Athletic notes, adding that Casey Hayward is expected to line up as Las Vegas’ outside corner starter opposite Trayvon Mullen (subscription required). While a few lower-profile corners’ names surfaced during Raiders minicamp this week, Arnette’s was conspicuously absent, Vincent Bonsignore of the Las Vegas Review-Journal adds. Talk surfaced last month of Arnette moving into the slot, but Tafur adds that job looks like Nevin Lawson‘s to lose. Arnette did not practice in the slot during minicamp.

Here is the latest from the AFC West:

  • Yannick Ngakoue is in search of a new agent. The recently signed Raiders defensive end left the Wasserman agency this week, according to the Sports Business Journal’s Liz Mullen (on Twitter). This is not a first for the former Jaguars, Vikings and Ravens pass rusher. He left his first NFL agent in May 2018 and made another change last August. Ngakoue’s next agent will be his fourth as a pro. Ngakoue signed a two-year, $26MM deal with the Raiders in March; that pact featured $21MM fully guaranteed.
  • Numerous key players missed extensive time for the Broncos last season, but the team received good news as it prepares for its next training camp. One of the biggest names to miss Denver’s 5-11 2020 slate, Courtland Sutton is not expected to start camp on the team’s active/PUP list, Vic Fangio said this week. The Pro Bowl wide receiver suffered an ACL tear in Week 2 of last season. Neither Sutton nor Bradley Chubb, who is rehabbing offseason ankle surgery, are likely to miss camp time, Troy Renck of Denver7 notes. Chubb needed bone spurs removed from his ankle.
  • Bashaud Breeland moved on from the Chiefs after two seasons, signing with the Vikings. But the veteran cornerback initially wanted to re-sign with the Chiefs.

Broncos GM George Paton On Bradley Chubb, Courtland Sutton

Much of the coverage of the Broncos this offseason has focused upon what the club will do with respect to its quarterback position, but new GM George Paton also has non-QB business to handle. That includes the contract situations of OLB Bradley Chubb and WR Courtland Sutton.

During his first pre-draft press conference, Paton told reporters, including Zack Kelberman of, about his desire to keep both players in the fold for the long haul. “They’re two of our core guys, and we want them here a long time,” Paton said. “We’re not going to address that until after the draft. We’re strictly focused on the draft, but those are two of our guys.”

As a 2018 first-round choice, Chubb’s rookie contract carries a fifth-year option that Paton must exercise by May 3. Though he has not explicitly said so, the rookie general manager will doubtlessly pick up the option, which is valued at a fully-guaranteed $12.7MM. That will buy player and team plenty of time to work out a contract extension.

Chubb posted 12 sacks in his rookie year, but he suffered a torn ACL early in the 2019 season. He rebounded from that injury to tally 7.5 sacks last year, to go along with 19 QB hits. Pro Football Focus graded him as the 30th-best edge defender out of 109 qualifiers, but his pass rushing score of 79.4 was actually a top-15 mark, and he earned his first Pro Bowl bid for his efforts.

It’s unclear if Paton will pursue an extension for Chubb immediately after the draft, though it would make sense for the two sides to at least have exploratory conversations. The same can be said of Sutton, but his situation is a little murkier.

Like Chubb, Sutton is a 2018 draftee, but because he was selected in the second round that year, his deal does not have a fifth-year option. So he will be eligible for unrestricted free agency after the 2021 season, and given that he sustained a season-sending ACL tear in his first game of the 2020 campaign, Paton may want to make sure he returns to form before getting too aggressive with extension talks.

Plus, the Broncos invested heavily at the wide receiver position last year, drafting Jerry Jeudy in the first round and KJ Hamler in the second. That could limit how far Paton is willing to stretch himself on a new contract for Sutton, but if Sutton picks up in 2021 where he left off in 2019 — he earned a Pro Bowl nod that year after posting 72 catches for 1,112 yards — it will be difficult to let him walk.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Broncos’ Courtland Sutton Tears ACL

Courtland Sutton’s season is over. On Monday morning, doctors confirmed that the Broncos’ talented wide receiver has suffered a torn ACL (Twitter link via’s Ian Rapoport).

Sutton, 25 in October, was forced out early from Sunday’s game against the Steelers, but not before he notched three receptions for 66 yards. For the Broncos, it was a tantalizing preview of what could have been another impressive season. Last year, Sutton enjoyed a breakout campaign, finishing out with 72 grabs for 1,112 yards and six touchdowns.

It’s another devastating blow for the Broncos, who have been bit hard by the injury bug recently. Right before the season started, star pass-rusher Von Miller was likely lost for the year with an ankle injury. Then on Sunday, quarterback Drew Lock went down as well, and will miss multiple games with a shoulder injury. Starting cornerback A.J. Bouye and running back Phillip Lindsay are also currently on the shelf.

Sutton missed Week 1 with a shoulder injury, and had just made his return against Pittsburgh. In his absence, rookie first-round pick Jerry Jeudy will take on a more prominent role in the offense. Fellow young pass-catchers like DaeSean Hamilton, K.J. Hamler, and tight end Noah Fant will all be leaned on more as well.

Fortunately, Sutton should be ready in time for the start of the 2021 season. At 0-2 now and with a depleted roster, it’s looking like a potential lost year for the Broncos. Jeff Driskel will start at quarterback for the time being.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Injury Updates: Colts, McCaffrey, Broncos, 49ers

It’s been a tough day for the NFL, with a slew of high profile players going down with serious injuries. We’ve brought you all the season-ending ones already, and now we’ve got some updates on some hopefully less long-term but still significant injuries. Colts receiver Parris Campbell had to be carted off with a knee injury, but fortunately Ian Rapoport of NFL Network tweets that he did not tear his ACL.

Campbell’s 2019 rookie season was plagued by injuries as he dealt with a sports hernia, a broken hand, and a broken foot, so this was especially tough to see. He was supposed to play a big role in this Colts offense, and showed a nice connection with new quarterback Philip Rivers in Week 1. The Ohio State product and former second-round pick will have an MRI on Monday, and it seems like an MCL injury could be likely.

Here’s more from around the league:

  • Panthers superstar Christian McCaffrey sprained his ankle and will have an MRI on Monday to determine the severity, Rapoport tweets. Fortunately, Rapsheet reports that the “initial hope” is it’s not too serious. Needless to say, it would be a massive loss for Carolina’s offense if he’s forced to miss any time.
  • We heard earlier today that Drew Lock would miss multiple games with an AC joint injury in his throwing shoulder. While he agrees with the prognosis of multiple weeks missed, multiple sources told Mike Klis of Denver 9 News that the injury is not in fact to the AC joint (Twitter link). The bad news is that Klis also reports there is “concern” within the organization about Courtland Sutton‘s knee, but that nothing more will be known until tomorrow morning. The Broncos have been besieged by injuries, and can’t seem to catch a break in that regard.
  • The Falcons blew a huge lead late for an absolutely gutting loss to the Cowboys, and the bad news doesn’t end there. The team fears starting right tackle Kaleb McGary has sprained his MCL, Adam Schefter of tweets. The MRI Monday will confirm how long he’ll be out, but this sounds like a multi-week absence. McGary has started every game since the team drafted him in the first-round last year, and this is the last thing this 0-2 Atlanta team needed.
  • Nick Bosa is done for the year with a torn ACL, and two other 49ers players are dealing with knee injuries. Running back Raheem Mostert is believed to have a mild MCL sprain and defensive tackle Solomon Thomas is believed to have a “serious” knee injury, according to tweets from Schefter. It sounds like both are going to miss time, although Mostert’s shouldn’t be too long-term and Schefter notes that Thomas’ didn’t have the initial grim clarity of Bosa’s, which could be a good sign. San Francisco has been another team bit hard by the injury bug.

WR Notes: Godwin, Lions, Broncos, Bateman

A bevy of wide receiver news has surfaced Friday, with several key weapons either out or likely to be shelved for Week 2. Here is the latest from the wideout ranks:

  • The Buccaneers have given Chris Godwin a doubtful designation. The contract-year wide receiver displayed concussion-like symptoms Wednesday, after absorbing a late-game hit in last week’s loss to the Saints, and remains in Tampa Bay’s protocol. Godwin has missed just two career games.
  • For a second straight week, the Lions will be without Kenny Golladay. Joining Godwin as a contract-year standout on the verge of a big payday, Golladay will miss another game because of a hamstring malady.
  • The Broncos will have their first- and second-round picks together in game action this week, with K.J. Hamler set to join Jerry Jeudy. Vic Fangio said Hamler will play. The second-rounder sustained a hamstring injury during training camp. Denver may have to wait for any Jeudy-Hamler-Courtland Sutton formations, however, with the Broncos’ No. 1 target remaining questionable with a sprained AC joint.
  • During Week 1, DeVante Parker aggravated a hamstring issue he initially encountered during training camp. The Dolphins‘ No. 1 target is questionable to play Sunday.
  • The Texans worked out Devin Smith this week, Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle notes. The Cowboys cut Smith, a former Jets second-round pick, as they trimmed their roster to 53 players. Now 28, Smith has just 15 career receptions since being a coveted prospect in 2015.
  • An interesting situation has emerged at the University of Minnesota, one of several Big Ten teams who saw an impact talent opt out and declare for the 2021 draft. First-round wide receiver prospect Rashod Bateman opted out this summer, but the high-end target is angling to return now. Bateman is back on campus but has signed with an agent, per Yahoo’s Pete Thamel (on Twitter). Due to the unusual circumstances the COVID-19 pandemic has created — particularly in the Big Ten, which announced an October restart this week — the Golden Gophers are attempting to secure a waiver from the NCAA to allow Bateman to play.

WR Notes: Fitz, Evans, Sutton, Reagor, Lions

Larry Fitzgerald has taken a year-to-year approach to retirement for a while now, but the Cardinals‘ all-time great has continued to return and remain productive. However, he will not spend much time considering a return if the now-Kyler Murray-led team makes a surprise run and wins Super Bowl LV this season.

That would definitely validate me,” Fitzgerald said of a Super Bowl victory, via Darren Urban of “You wouldn’t see me around here anymore if that happened. Another catch, another touchdown, another yard is not going to make more whatever – my legacy is pretty much cemented. I just want to win a championship, I want to compete for a division title. Those are the things that are important to me.”

Now 37, the league’s oldest active wideout has climbed into second place on both the receptions and receiving yards lists. Needing 172 catches to pass Jerry Rice, Fitz would likely need at least two more full seasons to have a chance to move into the No. 1 spot on that list. A yardage pursuit does not seem remotely attainable. Regarding the Cards’ Super Bowl hopes, they sit 17th at plus-5000 — according to — to claim a championship this year.

As Week 1 approaches for 30 teams, here is the latest wide receiver news:

  • Sunday will likely force fantasy managers to make changes, and Tom Brady may well have to adjust in his first game with Tampa Bay. The Buccaneers have listed Mike Evans as doubtful to face the Saints. Evans did not practice Wednesday or Thursday with a hamstring injury, before being limited Friday. This is a familiar situation for the seventh-year wideout; Evans missed the final three games of the 2019 season with a hamstring malady.
  • Kenny Golladay is on track to miss the first game in his contract season. The Lions listed their top wideout as doubtful as well. The fourth-year standout has also encountered hamstring trouble. Detroit is not particularly deep at wideout, at least in terms of proven targets, but does have Marvin Jones back to start his contract year. The Lions also re-signed Danny Amendola this offseason.
  • The AC joint sprain Courtland Sutton suffered in practice looks likely to shelve him for the Broncos‘ Monday opener against the Titans. While the Broncos are calling their top receiver “day to day,” Ian Rapoport of notes the third-year standout is a long shot to play in Week 1 (video link). Sutton has not yet missed a game as a pro.
  • Not all the current wide receiver news skews negative. After fears pointed to Jalen Reagor missing multiple September games, the Eagles wide receiver was a full practice participant each day this week and appears on track to play against Washington on Sunday. The first-round pick suffered a torn shoulder labrum during training camp. His presence will certainly help a receiving corps down Alshon Jeffery for the foreseeable future.

AFC West Notes: Chiefs, Sutton, Raiders

Clyde Edwards-Helaire will make his NFL debut Thursday night, doing so without the benefit of preseason carries. The Chiefs brought back both Darrel Williams and Darwin Thompson to serve as his backups, but the defending Super Bowl champions considered a somewhat higher-profile RB2 option. A year after the Chiefs scooped up LeSean McCoy following his Bills release, they had interest in Adrian Peterson, Jeremy Fowler of tweets. Peterson, who played under Eric Bieniemy from 2007-10 when the current Chiefs OC was the Vikings’ running backs coach, was interested in a Chiefs deal as well, per Herbie Teope of the Kansas City Star (on Twitter). COVID-19 testing and the team’s first game being on Thursday night nixed a potential partnership, Fowler adds. Peterson signed with the Lions on Sunday.

Ahead of the Chiefs kicking off the 2020 season in less than an hour, here is the latest from the AFC West:

  • The Broncos have already lost their best defensive player for the season, in all likelihood, with Von Miller opting to undergo an ankle surgery that will require a months-long recovery process. They now have their top offensive talent dealing with an injury. Courtland Sutton went down during practice Thursday, suffering what an MRI determined to be an AC joint sprain, Mike Klis of 9News notes. While Sutton will be classified as day-to-day, the third-year wideout’s right shoulder malady has his status in doubt for the Broncos’ Monday-night opener against the Titans.
  • The Chiefs made a few mid-level moves to bolster their depth chart this year, from re-signing wideout Demarcus Robinson and backup quarterback Chad Henne to adding offensive linemen Kelechi Osemele, Daniel Kilgore and Mike Remmers. Kansas City, however, does enter the season with a thin cornerback group thanks to Kendall Fuller‘s Washington return and Bashaud Breeland‘s four-game suspension. GM Brett Veach confirmed the team considered signing a veteran early in camp but saw enough from fourth-round rookie L’Jarius Sneed and young replacement options Rashad Fenton and Antonio Hamilton to stick with the status quo, per Adam Teicher of (on Twitter).
  • Lynn Bowden Jr.‘s Raiders tenure not lasting until Week 1 represented one of this summer’s more surprising developments, but the team viewed the third-round pick as ineffective on the field and a potential red flag off it. A lack of explosiveness contributed to the Raiders shipping Bowden to the Dolphins, according to The Athletic’s Vic Tafur, who adds the team was also concerned about the Kentucky product’s off-field approach — particularly after the team’s move to Las Vegas (subscription required). The Raiders ate Bowden’s $985K signing bonus to send the gadget player to Miami.

Thomas Eyeing Several More Seasons

Hip and neck troubles plagued Demaryius Thomas the past two seasons, enough so the Broncos’ top wide receiver contemplated near-future retirement — either after the 2018 season or the ’19 campaign, James Palmer of reports. But a now-reinvigorated Thomas is looking at his career differently.

A new diet and a leaner physique has the 30-year-old wideout wanting to extend his career well into the 2020s, even though he acknowledges things change quickly.

Now I’m thinking, 15 or 16 (years),” Thomas told Palmer. “Like, for real, I’m going to be like Larry Fitzgerald. Maybe even more. It just depends, you know? I mean, s—, tomorrow I could finish my career off of one crazy injury. But yeah, my mindset has changed.”

Thomas dropped more than 10 pounds this offseason, being currently under 220, per Palmer. And he’s obviously not experiencing the kind of hip pain that bothered him in 2016 and ’17. Even entering this season on the heels of the aforementioned injury-restricted ones, Thomas has played in 107 straight games since the 2011 season.

For, like, the past two years, for real, it’s been my neck and my hip,” Thomas said, via Palmer. “It was just times I couldn’t compete my best. And you know, sometimes, I remember one game we were playing the Patriots, and the (then-Patriots) corner (Logan Ryan) called it out. He said, ‘You’re not yourself.’ And I was like, ‘Man, I’m doing whatever I can to try to get (coverage) attention.’ ”

Like, for real, with all the problems with my hip, especially with my hip, it was like, sometimes I couldn’t even stop.”

Palmer notes one of Thomas’ hip labrums is partially torn. It’s not known what medical treatments Thomas underwent (if any) to recover from these maladies in order to be ready for this season.

If Thomas wants to play well into his 30s, he may have to relocate. By virtue of the Broncos picking up Thomas’ $4MM option, the Georgia Tech product will play a fourth season on his five-year, $70MM deal. But Thomas’ 2019 contract year will feature a $17.53MM cap number — up $5MM from this season’s — and the Broncos shedding that salary will save them $14MM. Of course, Emmanuel Sanders‘ contract expires after the 2019 season as well, and he’s due nearly $13MM in 2019.

With the Broncos having drafted Courtland Sutton and DaeSean Hamilton this year, it seems a somewhat safe bet to assume at least one of their longtime starters will be elsewhere in 2019. Though, they might be hesitant to part ways with both Thomas and Sanders given their importance to the Denver passing game the past four seasons. The Broncos and Thomas believe both rookies will make an immediate impact, per Palmer, with Sutton in particular drawing rave reviews in camp. Denver, though, has failed repeatedly to identify auxiliary receiving talent over the past three years, with previous Day 2 draft choices Cody Latimer and Carlos Henderson not working out.

Although Thomas’ 1,000-yard streak stopped at five due to 2017’s 949-yard showing, he passed Shannon Sharpe in both career receiving yardage and touchdowns (as Broncos) last season. He’s second behind Rod Smith in both categories with the Broncos.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

WR Notes: Diggs, Decker, Doctson, Broncos

The Vikings now have three of their four major offseason extension candidates signed long-term, with Anthony Barr being the only member of the contract-year quartet (Barr/Stefon Diggs/Eric Kendricks/Danielle Hunter) still attached to a rookie contract. Diggs was the latest to sign, and some details of that five-year, $72MM extension have emerged. Of the $40MM in guarantees, Ben Goessling of the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports (on Twitter) that only Diggs’ $15MM signing bonus and $1.9MM 2018 base salary are fully guaranteed at signing. The remainder of the wide receiver’s guaranteed money will depend on his roster status.

If Diggs is on the Vikings’ roster by the third day of the 2019 league year, all of his $8.9MM 2019 base becomes guaranteed. The same structure exists for the 2020 and ’21 league years, with Goessling reporting Diggs’ 2020 base of $10.9MM becomes fully guaranteed on Day 3 of that league year and $3.3MM of his $10.9MM 2021 salary will be guaranteed if he’s with the Vikes on Day 3 of that league year.

Here’s the latest from some teams’ pass-catching situations, shifting to more contract talk.

  • Eric Decker‘s one-year Patriots agreement comes in at just shy of $2MM. The former Broncos, Jets and Titans wideout signed for $1.9MM, Ian Rapoport of reports (on Twitter). He has a chance to earn up to $2.5MM, per Rapoport, via incentives tied to his reception count. Decker suited up in Patriots gear for the first time Saturday. Now 31, Decker is entering his ninth season.
  • While Emmanuel Sanders has yet to relinquish his status as the Broncos’ No. 2 wide receiver — a role he inherited from Decker in 2014 — the team looks to have found a No. 3 target at long last. Having failed to find a capable cog for that job since Wes Welker‘s exit, the Broncos appear to be zeroing in on Courtland Sutton as their No. 3 receiver, Lindsay Jones of USA Today writes. The SMU product’s drawn rave reviews throughout Broncos camp, and Jones notes the second-rounder’s all but locked up the WR3 job going into preseason play. Fourth-round pick DaeSean Hamilton, viewed as a superior route-runner than the 6-foot-3 Sutton, is expected to play a role as well. But Sutton will likely start out as Denver’s third option. The rookies’ work will be interesting, given the non-guaranteed contract-year salaries for the Broncos’ longtime starting wideouts in 2019.
  • Josh Doctson has suffered another injury, a shoulder setback, but contrary to a previous assessment, the Redskins target won’t be out too long. NBC Sports Washington’s Brian Mitchell, a longtime Redskins return man, said Doctson also needed to have his heel drained earlier this week. Jay Gruden, though, refuted that. “I don’t think I’ve ever heard of a heel being drained,” Gruden said, via Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk. “So I don’t know where that came from. That is not true, but he’s going to do a little something out here today. We’ll see. I’d be surprised if he went full-go, but he did not have his heel drained.” Doctson has struggled to stay healthy during his NFL career. The 2016 first-rounder missed all of his rookie year because of Achilles trouble and encountered hamstring issues last year.