Two of the NFL’s top trade chips leading up to the past two deadlines, Courtland Sutton and Jerry Jeudy remain in Denver. Offers have come in at various points, but the Broncos stood pat. They may not this year, as Sean Payton begins his second offseason.
Rumored to be considering disbanding this duo at long last, the Broncos do not appear ready to part with Sutton. Emerging as the team’s top weapon in Payton’s first season, Sutton has two years left on the four-year, $60MM extension he signed in 2021. That is a below-market rate for a No. 1 wide receiver, and 9News’ Mike Klis notes the six-year veteran is expected back next season.
Sutton, whom the Broncos nearly traded to the Ravens prior to the AFC North team’s Odell Beckham Jr. addition, does not have any guarantees remaining on his deal. Notching a number of acrobatic receptions for an offense that did not have much in the way of reliable weaponry last season, Sutton is due a $13MM base salary in 2024. $2MM of Sutton’s 2024 base ($13MM) becomes guaranteed on March 17. The former second-round pick is going into his age-29 season.
This would point to another round of trade rumors involving Jeudy, who is coming off a disappointing season. Although Jeudy’s 758 yards nearly matched Sutton’s total (772), the shiftier target struggled to be a steady target for Russell Wilson in Payton’s offense. A new quarterback almost definitely coming could change Jeudy’s standing in Denver, and the 2020 first-round pick’s trade value likely dropped due to his spotty performance and the $12.99MM guaranteed salary that comes with his fifth-year option.
The Broncos held out for a second-round pick for Sutton and a first-rounder for Jeudy last year. No such proposals are believed to have emerged, though Jeudy is reported to have drawn an offer including third- and fifth-rounders before the deadline. It will be interesting to see if the Broncos finally move on, as they have Marvin Mims likely to assume a bigger role in 2024.
While Tim Patrick remains on Denver’s roster, the former Drew Lock and Teddy Bridgewater target looms as a cut candidate due to a $9.5MM nonguaranteed 2024 salary and the fact he has not played since the 2021 season. Still, Klis adds the Broncos would like Patrick back at a reduced rate. If the parties cannot agree on that lower price, Patrick would be on track to be cut. Patrick going into his age-31 season will not help his value, making it rather important for the former UDFA to have signed an extension before his injury-plagued stretch.
ACL and Achilles tears over the past two training camps have kept Patrick off the field since his 734-yard showing in 2021. The surehanded 6-foot-4 wideout remains tied to the three-year, $30MM deal he signed just before Sutton back in fall 2021.
It is safe to assume the Broncos will not bring back all four of their top receivers next year, with Jeudy and Patrick on the radar to be moved. As of now, however, the team — which is $16MM-plus over the cap — is determining a plan early in an offseason in which Wilson is likely to be cut to bring an $85MM dead-money charge (over two offseasons, via a post-June 1 designation).
This cap situation will make it difficult for the Broncos to re-sign center Lloyd Cushenberry, who made a contract-year leap. After two healthy but unremarkable seasons to start his career, the former third-round center investment missed much of the 2022 season due to a groin injury. Cushenberry bounced back, ranking 11th among interior O-linemen in ESPN’s pass block win rate metric. The Broncos want to re-sign the four-year starter, but GM George Paton said the team is high on 2023 seventh-round pick Alex Forsyth and fellow holdover Luke Wattenberg. While the Broncos should not be ruled out from making a center move, early signs point to one of the rookie-deal cogs winning the job.