Courtland Sutton

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 NFL.com’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 ESPN.com 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 AZCardinals.com. “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 BetOnline.ag — 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 NFL.com 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 ESPN.com 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 ESPN.com (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 NFL.com 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 NFL.com 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.

West Rumors: Gurley, Broncos, Raiders

The base value of Todd Gurley‘s four-year extension with the Rams in $57.5MM, tweets Tom Pelissero of NFL.com, who confirms previous reports that Gurley can max out at $60MM from 2020-2023. Gurley is now the NFL’s second-highest-paid running back to the Steelers’ Le’Veon Bell, as Gurley will earn $14.375MM annually compared to Bell’s franchise tag value of $14.544MM. Of course, Bell is only playing on a one-year tag, so Gurley now holds the most lucrative multi-year deal in the league. Gurley reportedly received $45MM in guarantees, although it’s unclear whether that total refers to injury guarantees or full guarantees at signing.

Here’s more from the NFL’s two West divisions:

  • The Broncos had a first-round grade on wide receiver Courtland Sutton before eventually landing him on Day 2 of the draft, according to Nicki Jhabvala of the Athletic. Sutton, an SMU product, ultimately fell to the top of the second round (pick No. 40), so Denver did not have to sacrifice capital in order to move up for its preferred target. “He has a huge catch radius and he’s got great ball skills,” Broncos head coach Vance Joseph said of Sutton. “As a route runner, it’s coming, but he’s so big and strong that if he doesn’t win with the route, he wins with his body.” Sutton is likely too large to see much time in the slot, but veteran pass-catcher Emmanuel Sanders could move inside in three-wide sets if Sutton wins a starting role. He’ll be competing with fellow rookie DaeSean Hamilton, whom Denver selected out of Penn State in the fourth round. Over his final two collegiate campaigns, Sutton averaged 72 receptions, 1,166 yards, and 11 touchdowns per year.
  • Given that Marshawn Lynch and Doug Martin sit atop the Raiders‘ running back depth chart, Oakland will likely decide between keeping Jalen Richard or DeAndre Washington, as Scott Bair on NBC Sports Bay Area writes. The only problem? Richard and Washington are extremely similar players, with close physical statures (each stands 5’8″ and 205 pounds) and overall production. Both Richard and Washington averaged greater than five yards per carry during their respective rookie seasons in 2016, but each took a backseat in 2017 after Lynch was acquired from the Seahawks. Making the decision even more difficult is that both Richard and Washington return punts and kicks (in 2017, they both played exactly 33.4% of Oakland’s special teams snaps!). Whichever player is ultimately cut is sure to quickly find another home, possibly through the wavier system.
  • Broncos defensive tackle Clinton McDonald is “good to go” for training camp after suffering from a bacterial infection related to a 2015 shoulder operation, reports Mike Klis of 9News. McDonald, who signed a two-year deal with Denver earlier this year, missed the club’s entire offseason program while recovering from the infection. He was also forced to accept a pay reduction as a result of the health issue, although he can earn the $3MM he sacrificed back by appearing in all 16 games for the Broncos during the upcoming campaign. McDonald, 31, appeared in 14 games for the Buccaneers a season ago, will join fellow interior defender Domata Peko on a Denver defensive line that already ranked fourth in Football Outsiders’ adjusted line yards in 2017.

Draft Notes: 2019 QBs, Browns, Jackson

A possible dearth of quarterback talent in the 2019 draft class may have contributed the first-round aggressiveness of teams in recent years. The Bears, Chiefs, Texans, Jets, Bills and Cardinals traded up to land their hopeful quarterbacks of the future the past two drafts, and Albert Breer of SI.com notes some of the impetus behind these moves may be coming from issues teams have with the crop of passers likely set to populate 2019 big boards.

Not right now, there isn’t one (that would go in the first round as it stands),” an AFC college scouting director told Breer. “The kids at Auburn (Jarrett Stidham), Missouri (Drew Lock) and N.C. State (Ryan Finley), by the end of it, could work their way into the conversation. But on the surface, based on current performance, it’d be a no. Now, if they ascend, which they should, those three guys have a chance to get there.”

Mel Kiper Jr. of ESPN.com (Insider link) has both Lock (No. 16) and Oregon’s Justin Herbert (No. 18) in his early top 25 for 2019. Issues with Lock’s completion percentage (57.8 percent is the senior-to-be’s career high) and Herbert’s toughness, per Breer, are early concerns for respective first-round hopefuls. While events of recent years show it’s a good bet a quarterback will be taken in the 2019 first round, Breer compares this crop — at this early juncture — to the 2013 group that saw only E.J. Manuel chosen in Round 1 instead of other recent classes that saw the likes of Jared Goff, Marcus Mariota and Jameis Winston emerge as obvious down-the-line high draft choices in advance of their final college campaigns.

Here’s more on this year’s draft, courtesy of Breer:

  • Breer reports the Browns “loved both” of the Denzel Ward/Bradley Chubb duo, but the team felt the Ohio State cornerback possessed upside potential the N.C. State defensive end didn’t. Ward started just for one season but sat behind Buckeyes cornerbacks that are now in the NFL. Cleveland brass also didn’t view Chubb as a Myles Garrett– or Jadeveon Clowney-like athletic specimen. Plus, Gregg Williams said the team’s need at corner was greater than the one opposite Garrett. Also noting Ward, who went to Nordonia High School in the Cleveland area, pitched his local ties and desire to help a Browns resurgence, Breer writes the Browns did their homework on this difficult decision and did not make an impulse call on draft night.
  • If the Eagles did not trade their first-round pick to the Ravens, they were going to consider eventual Broncos wideout Courtland Sutton at No. 32, per Breer. Sutton visited the Eagles in early April. Philly has Alshon Jeffery, a player to whom Sutton’s been compared, signed long-term and has Nelson Agholor controlled through 2019. However, the defending Super Bowl champions still signed Mike Wallace and Markus Wheaton, the latter a post-draft addition.
  • Ravens brass needed to hear from John Harbaugh the coaching staff was confident the team could win with Lamar Jackson before trading up to take him, and Breer reports Harbaugh, OC Marty Morhinweg, senior offensive assistant Greg Roman and QBs coach James Urban all developed a plan for the rookie before Ozzie Newsome made the trade with the Eagles. Both Mornhinweg and Urban were in their same positions under Andy Reid on the 2010 Eagles, when Michael Vick resurfaced as a top-flight weapon after previously working intermittently in certain packages. Roman’s work adjusting the 2012 49ers’ offense for Colin Kaepernick also played a role here, Breer writes. The Ravens look to be preparing Jackson sets already.
  • The first four rookies to sign their deals all had offset language built into the contracts, Breer tweets. Da’Ron Payne, Josh Rosen, Marcus Davenport and Quenton Nelson saw their teams include offsets in their deals. Offset language provided one of the sticky points in Joey Bosa‘s 2016 holdout, and the Chargers won out. So far, teams are doing the same with their 2018 top picks.

Broncos Agree To Terms With 7 Draftees

The Broncos made 10 picks in this past draft, and seven of those have agreed to terms on their four-year rookie contracts, Mike Klis of 9News tweets. While Bradley Chubb is not among this group, Denver has the majority of its 2018 class locked in. Here’s the full rundown:

Sutton, though, is under contract now. He’s the most notable draft investment the Broncos have made at wide receiver since Demaryius Thomas in 2010, profiling as a slightly higher-regarded second-round pick than Cody Latimer four years ago. The SMU product is expected to develop behind Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders while potentially working in as a No. 3 wideout this season. Hamilton will attempt to do the same, and the former Nittany Lions standout could well compete with 2017 draftee Carlos Henderson for the Broncos’ slot job — one the franchise has struggled to fill since Wes Welker departed.

Fumagalli will compete for time in an uncertain tight end group, an all-Big Ten-produced contingent featuring intriguing second-year player Jake Butt and thus-far-underwhelming fourth-year man Jeff Heuerman. This shapes up to be an interesting competition. Fellow Big Ten alum Jewell will likely be thrust into work as a special-teamer and reserve behind inside linebackers Brandon Marshall and Todd Davis.

The only Broncos picks still unsigned are Chubb and third-rounders Royce Freeman and Isaac Yiadom.