Jerry Jeudy

Broncos’ Jerry Jeudy To Return In Week 2

The Broncos will have their top wide receiver available in Week 2. Jerry Jeudy faced a return timetable of “several weeks” upon suffering a hamstring injury on Aug. 24, but he will make it back after missing just one regular-season game.

Sean Payton said Jeudy is good to go for Sunday’s Commanders-Broncos game. This will help a team that finished its opener without three of its top four pass catchers. Tim Patrick is set to miss another full season, and tight end Greg Dulcich suffered a hamstring injury that is expected to keep him out multiple weeks.

Jeudy is going into his fourth NFL season. While the former first-round pick has missed the fewest number of games, Jeudy setbacks have been part of an injury-prone pass-catching cast’s health history. The Broncos have seen Patrick suffer multiple season-ending maladies during training camp and Sutton go down with an ACL tear in Week 2 of the 2020 season. KJ Hamler sustained an ACL tear in Week 3 of the 2021 campaign and missed much of last season as well. A Hamler heart issue led the Broncos to waive the former second-round pick, with the prospect of a reunion in play, during camp this year.

The No. 15 overall pick in 2020, Jeudy missed much of the 2021 season because of a high ankle sprain. He showed progress down the stretch of last year’s abysmal Broncos season. The shifty route runner totaled 67 receptions for 972 yards and six touchdowns last year, putting together a strong finish to provide a glimmer of hope after the Broncos’ Russell WilsonNathaniel Hackett season ended with the team dropping to last place in scoring.

Denver picked up Jeudy’s $12.99MM fifth-year option in May, doing so after dangling him in trades. With Patrick out of the picture, both Jeudy and fellow offseason trade chip Courtland Sutton will be needed. Denver needed to use the likes of Lil’Jordan Humphrey, Brandon Johnson and Phillip Dorsett alongside Sutton and second-round rookie Marvin Mims against the Raiders. Jeudy returning should provide a boost to the 0-1 team, which did present a more respectable passing attack in Week 1. The Broncos’ progress stalled in the second half, however.

In addition to Jeudy, third-round rookie Riley Moss will make his season debut in Week 2. The Broncos traded up for the Iowa cornerback in April, sending the Seahawks a 2024 third-round pick to climb up for Moss at No. 83. The 6-foot-1 defender, who underwent core muscle surgery this summer, will join a Broncos cornerback corps missing slot defender K’Waun Williams. While All-Pro Patrick Surtain anchors this group, the Broncos have questions at their other corner spots.

Broncos’ Jerry Jeudy In Jeopardy Of Missing Regular-Season Time

The Broncos continue to experience persistent trouble keeping their wide receivers healthy. Weeks after another Tim Patrick season-ending injury, Jerry Jeudy is now in jeopardy of beginning the regular season on the inactive list.

A hamstring injury required Jeudy to be transported off the Broncos’ practice field on a cart Thursday, and while 9News’ Mike Klis notes the cart was precautionary, an MRI confirmed Jeudy’s malady is significant. Denver’s top receiver is expected to miss several weeks,’s Ian Rapoport and Tom Pelissero (on Twitter).

This is on-brand for the 2020s Broncos, who used a few first- and second-round picks on wideouts but have been unable to either keep them on the field together. Patrick, who suffered a torn ACL during training camp last year and a torn Achilles earlier this month, will exit this season having missed 34 consecutive games. KJ Hamler, who has battled injuries throughout his career, is off the roster — perhaps temporarily — due to a heart condition. Courtland Sutton missed 14 games in 2020 due to an ACL tear.

Jeudy, 24, has been the healthiest of this receiving group. His only extended absence came early during the 2021 season, when he sustained a high ankle sprain. The 2020 first-round pick missed seven games that season and ended the campaign without a touchdown. Despite Denver’s widespread offensive struggles last season, Jeudy finished with a career-high 972 receiving yards and six TDs. The elusive Alabama product produced two 100-yard games in his final three last season and scored three TDs in a December loss to the Chiefs. The Broncos picked up Jeudy’s $12.99MM fifth-year option in May.

The regular season being 2 1/2 weeks away puts the Broncos in a time crunch with Jeudy. Sutton and second-round rookie Marvin Mims represent the team’s top two healthy wideouts. Mims missed time earlier in camp due to a hamstring malady as well. Denver has two of Sean Payton‘s former Saints charges — Marquez Callaway and Lil’Jordan Humphrey — along with regular backup Kendall Hinton. The team lost Jalen Virgil to a meniscus injury during its second preseason game, leading him to IR.

Denver dangled Jeudy in trades this offseason but held a high price, asking for a first-rounder. The team asked for a second-rounder to move Sutton, and the Ravens engaged in negotiations prior to signing Odell Beckham Jr. Payton soon said both players were in his 2023 plans. These two represent the Broncos’ top receivers, and with Patrick out, it is unlikely either is moved. Despite Jeudy’s injury being classified as significant, it would surprise if the Broncos used an in-season IR spot here. That would sideline Jeudy for the season’s first four games. Denver keeping its top pass catcher on the 53-man roster and going week to week would be the likelier scenario.

2024 NFL Fifth-Year Option Tracker

NFL teams have until May 2 to officially pick up fifth-year options on 2020 first-rounders who are entering the final year of their rookie deals. The 2020 CBA revamped the option structure and made them fully guaranteed, rather than guaranteed for injury only. Meanwhile, fifth-year option salaries are now determined by a blend of the player’s position, initial draft placement and performance- and usage-based benchmarks:

  • Two-time Pro Bowlers (excluding alternate Pro Bowlers) will earn the same as their position’s franchise tag.
  • One-time Pro Bowlers will earn the equivalent of the transition tag.
  • Players who achieve any of the following will get the average of the third-20th highest salaries at their position:
    • At least a 75% snap rate in two of their first three seasons
    • A 75% snap average across all three seasons
    • At least 50% in each of first three seasons
  • Players who do not hit any of those benchmarks will receive the average of the third-25th top salaries at their position.

With the deadline looming, we’ll use the space below to track all the option decisions from around the league:

  1. QB Joe Burrow, Bengals ($29.5MM): Exercised
  2. DE Chase Young, Commanders ($17.45MM): Declined
  3. CB Jeff Okudah, Falcons* ($11.51MM): N/A
  4. T Andrew Thomas, Giants ($14.18MM): Exercised
  5. QB Tua Tagovailoa, Dolphins ($23.2MM): Exercised
  6. QB Justin Herbert, Chargers ($29.5MM): Exercised
  7. DT Derrick Brown, Panthers ($11.67MM): Exercised 
  8. LB Isaiah Simmons, Cardinals ($12.72MM): Declined
  9. CB C.J. Henderson, Jaguars** ($11.51MM): Declined
  10. T Jedrick Wills, Browns ($14.18MM): Exercised
  11. T Mekhi Becton, Jets ($12.57MM): Declined
  12. WR Henry Ruggs, Raiders: N/A
  13. T Tristan Wirfs, Buccaneers ($18.24MM): Exercised
  14. DT Javon Kinlaw, 49ers ($10.46MM): Declined
  15. WR Jerry Jeudy, Broncos ($14.12MM): Exercised
  16. CB AJ Terrell, Falcons ($12.34MM): Exercised
  17. WR CeeDee Lamb, Cowboys ($17.99MM): Exercised
  18. OL Austin Jackson, Dolphins ($14.18MM): Declined
  19. CB Damon Arnette, Raiders: N/A
  20. DE K’Lavon Chaisson, Jaguars ($12.14MM): Declined
  21. WR Jalen Reagor, Vikings*** ($12.99MM): To decline
  22. WR Justin Jefferson, Vikings ($19.74MM): Exercised
  23. LB Kenneth Murray, Chargers ($11.73MM): Declined
  24. G Cesar Ruiz, Saints ($14.18MM): Declined
  25. WR Brandon Aiyuk, 49ers ($14.12MM): Exercised
  26. QB Jordan Love, Packers ($20.27MM): Extended through 2024
  27. LB Jordyn Brooks, Seahawks ($12.72MM): Declined
  28. LB Patrick Queen, Ravens ($12.72MM): Declined
  29. T Isaiah Wilson, Titans: N/A
  30. CB Noah Igbinoghene, Dolphins ($11.51MM): Declined
  31. CB Jeff Gladney, Vikings: N/A
  32. RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Chiefs ($5.46MM): To decline

* = Lions traded Okudah on April 11, 2023
** = Jaguars traded Henderson on Sept. 27, 2021
*** = Eagles traded Reagor on August 31, 2022

Broncos Pick Up WR Jerry Jeudy’s Fifth-Year Option

After his future in Denver appeared to be in doubt, Jerry Jeudy will remain with the Broncos through the next two seasons. The receiver will have his fifth-year option picked up, as confirmed by a team announcement. Doing so will set him for a $14.12MM cap hit in 2024.

Jeudy, 24, was the second receiver off the board in 2020, going 15th overall and entering the Mile High City with considerable expectations. By and large, he has yet to live up to them, failing to eclipse the 1,000-yard threshold in any of his three seasons with the team. During a strong showing to close out the 2022 campaign, however, he began to flash the potential he showed coming out of college.

The Alabama product finished the season with new career highs in catches (67), yards (972) and touchdowns (six), a relatively impressive statline considering the challenges the Broncos’ offense suffered throughout the campaign. Those totals also led to several inquiries around the league regarding Jeudy’s availability (along with that of fellow wideout Courtland Sutton).

On multiple occasions, Broncos decision-makers have insisted Jeudy in particular is part of the team’s long-term plans. This move proves that sentiment, and will allow him to continue his career ascent while Denver looks to take a much-needed step forward on offense to begin the Sean Payton era. Their passing game will have a new element following their approach to the draft.

The Broncos traded up in the second round to select Oklahoma wideout Marvin Mims, giving them a vertical threat and another young option at the position. He, along with Jeudy, is in line to serve in a leading role for at least the short-term future on offense. How willing Denver is to commit to a multi-year deal with the latter (this offseason or next) will now become an interesting storyline to monitor.

Latest On Jerry Jeudy, Courtland Sutton

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?

Broncos HC Sean Payton Insists Team Will Not Trade WRs Jerry Jeudy, Courtland Sutton

Throughout the early offseason, rumors have run rampant concerning two of the Broncos’ most promising assets. Denver fielded calls before last year’s trade deadline from several teams seeking to acquire wide receivers Jerry Jeudy and Courtland Sutton. Despite the existing interest, new head coach Sean Payton assured the media today that they have no intentions of dealing Jeudy or Sutton.

Trade interest in the two young wideouts began last season as needy teams were looking to add some weapons for a playoff run. Although it became clear that the Broncos weren’t shopping the two players two weeks ago, teams have still been calling to inquire about their availability.

At the annual league meetings, Payton chose to address the situation quite plainly. “I see and read like everyone else does,” Payton told NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero. “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.”

For those confused by Payton’s baseball analogy, the new Denver head coach is saying that if anyone was pushing too hard for Jeudy or Sutton, he would make sure they received the message of their unavailability. Apparently, that hasn’t been necessary, so far.

“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,'” Payton continued. “And so, we’ve received calls, you bet. 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 we’re working with.”

So, it looks like Denver will be moving forward with those top-two weapons for quarterback Russell Wilson. Under new leadership and with the return of a strong third option in Tim Patrick, the Broncos’ offense is hoping to look different than they did in 2022 with a similar roster. Payton intends to keep Sutton and Jeudy around.

Broncos Pursued Adam Thielen, Allen Lazard; Jerry Jeudy Still Drawing Trade Interest

MARCH 26: Jeff Howe of The Athletic (subscription required) reiterates earlier reports that the Broncos are seeking a first-round pick in a Jeudy trade, with Troy Renck of Denver 7 tweeting that the club is holding firm on that demand. Doug Kyed of hears that Jeudy may be a more realistic trade option than Hopkins, but Denver’s insistence on a first-rounder in exchange for Jeudy could be an indication that the team does not really want to move him.

League sources tell Howe that Denver’s asking price for Sutton remains too high as well, so although the Broncos’ interest in free agent pass catchers does suggest that Payton & Co. are perhaps willing to make some changes to their receiver room, it is clear that a club that wants Jeudy or Sutton is going to need to make an especially aggressive offer.

Indeed, Cabot reports that the Browns never got close to landing Jeudy. Cleveland was prepared to deal the No. 42 overall pick in this year’s draft — the same pick that it used to acquire Elijah Moore from the Jets — but the team would have also needed to include a talented player or another high selection in the 2024 draft, and even that may not have been enough.

MARCH 22: While reports of the Broncos’ plans to keep Jerry Jeudy and Courtland Sutton keep emerging, the again-retooling team’s starting wide receivers continue to come up in trade rumors. Denver’s pursuits of other wide receivers in free agency may provide a hint to Sean Payton‘s plans at the position.

Adam Thielen said the Broncos and Cowboys joined the Panthers in pursuing him in free agency, David Newton of notes, while The Score’s Jordan Schultz adds the team made an aggressive push for Allen Lazard before he signed with the Jets (Twitter link).

As the Broncos potentially helped drive up the prices for Thielen and Lazard, who respectively received $14MM and $22MM fully guaranteed, the subject will shift back to their holdover receivers. Denver rosters a former first-round pick (Jeudy), two outside receivers on veteran deals (Sutton, Tim Patrick) and a second-round deep threat who has battled steady injury problems (KJ Hamler). Given the team’s pursuits of outside help at the position, it can be assumed Payton wants to shake up this position, which has not seen major augmentations since the Jeudy and Hamler selections three years ago.

Count the Browns as a team in on Jeudy. While the Broncos want a first-round pick for Jeudy, Mary Kay Cabot of notes the Browns have not given up on a pursuit despite their lack of a first-round selection this year. The Broncos are not truly keeping Jeudy off the market, Cabot adds, as they are willing to part with the fourth-year receiver for a strong offer.

The Cowboys look to be off the table for Jeudy, after they acquired Brandin Cooks, but teams like the Giants and Patriots have previously looked into the talented pass catcher. While DeAndre Hopkins is willing to rework his contract, the Cardinals wideout’s through-2024 deal would be more expensive to acquire than Jeudy’s. A modest fifth-year option price can extend Jeudy’s rookie deal through 2024. With some teams still look for receiving help during an offseason that brought an unremarkable free agency crop and looks to feature a lesser group of prospects in the draft, Jeudy’s name will carry value in the weeks leading up to the draft.

The Browns have Amari Cooper tied to his Cowboys-constructed $20MM-per-year deal. Although the team restructured Cooper’s contract last year, his cap numbers sit at $23.8MM in 2023 and ’24. The team also restructured Deshaun Watson‘s deal, ballooning his 2024-26 cap numbers to record-obliterating figures while dropping his 2023 hit to $19.1MM. The Browns hold just more than $10MM in cap space. Jeudy would fit alongside Cooper and Donovan Peoples-Jones in Cleveland; the latter is going into a contract year but produced his best season in 2022.

Denver’s wideouts have yet to put it together. Quarterback play, injuries and last year’s disjointed offense have played a major role in Jeudy and Sutton’s inconsistency. But the team’s pursuits of Thielen and Lazard will not quiet the rumblings that either Jeudy or Sutton could be on the move ahead of the draft. Sutton and Patrick’s skillsets overlap, and Thielen and Lazard also qualify as possession targets. Jeudy’s route-running chops and elusiveness differ from both the incumbent targets and the recent free agents, but at 23, he would fetch the Broncos the best haul.

The Broncos, they of no first- or second-round pick this year, continue to be faced with a choice of retaining a promising wide receiver — one who would stand to move the needle as Payton attempts to reignite Russell Wilson — or moving on in exchange for vital 2023 draft capital.

Teams Remain Interested In Jerry Jeudy; Broncos Seeking First-Round Pick For WR

MARCH 17: While teams’ interest could reach the point of an offer the Broncos cannot refuse, the team does not want to move either Jeudy or Sutton. Denver prefers to move forward with both starters, Mike Klis of 9News tweets. Optimism exists Payton will unlock some of the long-held potential of both Sutton and Jeudy, per Klis, who notes the team has hope Sutton — now more than two years removed from his September 2020 ACL tear — will return to his pre-injury form. Sutton is due a $14MM base salary in 2023.

MARCH 15: As they did before the 2022 trade deadline, the Broncos are receiving calls on Jerry Jeudy. The team has thus far shut down interest in the ascending wide receiver, but a price point has emerged that could convince the franchise to sell high.

The Broncos would want a first-round pick for the fourth-year receiver, Jeff Howe of The Athletic reports (on Twitter). Jeudy can be controlled on his rookie contract through 2024, with his fifth-year option call due by May. That seems likely to be exercised — by the Broncos or another team — given Jeudy’s talent.

Denver resisted interest in Jeudy last year, and it made sense for the Broncos to regroup and prepare for the former first-round pick to be part of a better offense in 2023. But neither Sean Payton nor George Paton was in place when the Broncos drafted Jeudy. While the Alabama product profiles as Denver’s top receiver, the team does not have first- or second-round picks in this year’s draft — due to the Payton and Russell Wilson trades. Using Jeudy or Courtland Sutton would be a way for the franchise to add a pick or multiple selections in this year’s draft.

A recent report indicated teams have called the Broncos on Sutton and Jeudy, but the team has thus far passed on trade overtures toward the John Elway-era investments. Both players are on affordable contracts, with Sutton signed through 2025 on a $15MM-per-year accord he signed during the 2021 season. With the Bengals and Chargers taking Tee Higgins and Keenan Allen off the market, respectively, teams seeing if they can pry one of the Broncos’ starters away — in exchange for much-needed draft capital — makes sense.

Then again, the Broncos gave Wilson a $49MM-per-year extension before last season and are still banking on the former Seahawks star re-emerging from a shockingly mediocre 2022 season. Dealing away Jeudy, 23, would stand to hinder Wilson’s rebound effort. Sutton would seem to make more sense as a trade chip, though he would be unlikely to fetch as much. He is entering his age-28 season. But the team has a similar player in Tim Patrick, an outside receiver tied to a $10MM-per-year contract. Patrick has not come up in trade rumors, having missed last season with an ACL tear.

The Cowboys and Giants were among the teams to contact the Broncos on Jeudy before the deadline last year; Dallas made an offer. Both teams are still believed to be looking for receiver help. The Broncos have upped their asking price compared to last year, when a report pegged the team as seeking a second-round pick. Given this modest free agent receiver class and only veterans DeAndre Hopkins and Brandin Cooks viewed as available via trade, Denver is asking for more now. Following those trade rumors, Jeudy finished the 2022 season with a career-high 972 receiving yards to lead the Broncos. This did not move the needle much, however, as Denver’s Nathaniel Hackett-directed offense ranked last in scoring.

In New Orleans, Payton prioritized multiple receivers — Marques Colston, Michael Thomas — but reached agreements to trade two complementary talents (Cooks, Kenny Stills) as well. The Broncos, as the Saints are known to do, are investing heavily along their offensive line. The team reached agreements with Mike McGlinchey and Ben Powers this week, and the team will likely consider a Quinn Meinerz extension next year. Considering Jeudy’s age, the Broncos will face a pivotal decision on the state of their receiving corps soon.

Patriots To Sign WR JuJu Smith-Schuster

MARCH 16: The $33MM number turned out to be the max value here. Instead, the Patriots signed the seventh-year wideout to a three-year, $25.5MM contract, Ben Volin of the Boston Globe tweets. Like Meyers, he received $16MM guaranteed at signing, but he did not reach an eight-figure AAV. Smith-Schuster can get to that $33MM mark via performance, with Volin adding $7.5MM remains available through receiving yards-based incentives. Only $4.5MM of those incentives are achievable during the deal’s guaranteed years, with’s Albert Breer adding $3MM are part of Smith-Schuster’s 2025 potential earnings (Twitter link).

MARCH 15: While mutual interest existed between the Chiefs and JuJu Smith-Schuster, the veteran wide receiver looks set to change teams again. The Patriots are signing the seventh-year wideout, Taylor Bisciotti and Ian Rapoport of report (on Twitter).

The Chiefs made efforts to bring back Smith-Schuster, their leading wide receiver in 2022, Dianna Russini of tweets. But the Pats will acquire a versatile performer to replace Jakobi Meyers, who committed to the Raiders on Tuesday.

This situation appeared to come down to how much of a hometown discount Smith-Schuster would accept; he said before Super Bowl LVII he wanted to stay in Kansas City. It is unclear how much the Chiefs offered, but Mike Giardi of tweets the money did not reach the place the Pats went (Twitter link).

New England is giving Smith-Schuster a three-year, $33MM deal, Jeremy Fowler of tweets. Guarantees are not yet known, but ESPN’s Adam Schefter adds JuJu will collect $22.5MM through 2024 (Twitter link). After settling for one-year deals in 2021 (with Pittsburgh) and ’22 (with Kansas City), Smith-Schuster finally scores a multiyear commitment.

Used mostly in the slot with the Steelers, Smith-Schuster shuffled across formations with the Chiefs and produced a rebound season upon teaming with Patrick Mahomes. The 26-year-old target caught 78 passes for 933 yards and three touchdowns. The 933 yards marked Smith-Schuster’s most since his 2018 Pro Bowl season in Pittsburgh. He finished with the fifth-most YAC over expected (plus-141), per Next Gen Stats, in 2022.

Smith-Schuster’s AAV matches the money the Raiders and Jets gave to Meyers and Allen Lazard, respectively, and this represents another medium-term accord the Pats are giving out to bolster the position. They handed Nelson Agholor a two-year, $22MM contract in 2021. The former first-rounder did not live up to it, and he is unlikely to return in 2023. It is interesting the Pats passed on Meyers to pay an outside hire similar cash — something Meyers has since noticed (Twitter link) — but Smith-Schuster has shown a slightly higher ceiling. These two are also the same age, despite Meyers entering the league two years later. The Patriots did not offer Meyers the kind of guarantees the Raiders did, Giardi adds. Meyers signed for $22MM guaranteed in total and $16.5MM fully guaranteed.

Although Smith-Schuster’s 1,400-yard season during Antonio Brown‘s Steelers swansong still looks like an outlier, he showed plenty in Kansas City last season. The Chiefs signed Smith-Schuster, a free agent target for two years, to an incentive-laden deal — initially a $3.8MM pact — and the USC alum ended up adding millions to his 2022 earnings by hitting a few of those benchmarks. Kansas City obviously features a favorable setup, with Reid calling the shots in a Mahomes-piloted attack, but Smith-Schuster became the No. 1 receiver for a team that managed to win the Super Bowl after trading Tyreek Hill. It will be interesting to see who the Chiefs target to fill Smith-Schuster’s role. While the team is keen on expanding Kadarius Toney‘s responsibilities, the talented ex-Giant’s rampant injury trouble could interfere.

Mecole Hardman remains unsigned, and while the Chiefs were planning to let the speedster walk, perhaps the Smith-Schuster defection changes their thinking. Kansas City will be an attractive setup for wide receivers, and Odell Beckham Jr. remains available. OBJ would undoubtedly need to set a new price point, as his reported $20MM-per-year ask is out of step with his value. But the Chiefs were connected to OBJ in 2021 and ’22.

As for the Patriots, Smith-Schuster will join a team in transition at receiver. Kendrick Bourne enjoyed a solid season in 2021 but fell into the doghouse last season. The Pats used a second-round pick on Tyquan Thornton, but an injury halted his rookie-year development. DeVante Parker remains under contract, as does Bourne, but Smith-Schuster is now positioned to be the No. 1 receiver in Bill O’Brien‘s offense.

The team has also looked into Jerry Jeudy, per Denver7’s Troy Renck (on Twitter), and DeAndre Hopkins. It is unclear how serious it is to making more upgrades after landing JuJu. The Pats are not currently pursuing Hopkins, Albert Breer of tweets.

Giants Rumors: Lawrence, Edwards, WRs, Love

The Giants have been eyeing an extension for star defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence for a while now and, following a breakout season, the team has made it a priority. New York started preliminary conversations with Lawrence about two weeks ago, but Jonathan Jones of NFL on CBS claims he wouldn’t be surprised to see a new deal done “sooner than later.”

Despite the ever-growing markets for every position, the league’s market for defensive tackles has never been near the contract of generational talent Aaron Donald. It appears that this will continue to be the case as we see the defensive tackle market reestablished this offseason. Washington has already made Daron Payne the new second-highest paid defensive tackle in the NFL behind Donald with a four-year, $90MM contract. Payne’s average annual value of $22.5MM is still well short of Donald’s $31.67MM per year.

It will be interesting to see where the Giants go from Payne’s deal. Payne established himself as a premier pass-rushing defensive tackle in the league this season but struggled in run defense. Lawrence didn’t have the pass rush production that Payne did but still excelled in the area while also being strong against the run.

Lawrence graded out as the second-best defensive tackle in the league this year, according to Pro Football Focus (subscription required). It would make perfect sense for the Giants to reward Lawrence with a contract that surpasses that of Payne’s new deal, but will Lawrence be able to come anywhere close to the heights reached by Donald?

Here are a few more rumors surrounding the Giants’ priorities at the start of the new league year:

  • Starting the offseason with 21 unrestricted free agents, New York had a laundry list of names and positions to take care of. One of those positions that has been getting some chatter is inside linebacker. Specifically, the Giants have continuously been connected to Eagles pending free agent linebacker T.J. Edwards, according to Ryan Dunleavy of the New York Post. The four-year Philadelphia defender has had two increasingly impressive breakout seasons, recording career-highs last year in total tackles (159), tackles for loss (10), sacks (2.0), quarterback hits (5), and passes defensed (7). Aside from Edwards, the top name expected to be available at the position is Tremaine Edmunds from Buffalo. Other names of interest for the G-Men include the Commanders’ Cole Holcomb, the Bengals’ Germaine Pratt, the Cowboys’ Leighton Vander Esch, the Lions’ Alex Anzalone, and the Chargers’ Drue Tranquill.
  • The wide receivers position has been an obvious need on the Giants’ roster for some time now, but it doesn’t appear that the Giants intend to address that through free agency, according to Pat Leonard of New York Daily News. With their focuses in free agency and the draft reportedly on inside linebackers, defensive linemen, cornerbacks, and interior offensive linemen, thoughts are that the trade market may make more sense for New York. If the Bills aren’t able to reach an extension agreement with Gabriel Davis, the Giants could be strong contenders to acquire his talents. The Rams have granted receiver Allen Robinson permission to seek a trade. Cardinals star receiver DeAndre Hopkins appears to be available for a price, as well. There are other names that could be interesting additions to the trade market such as Cincinnati wideout Tyler Boyd or Denver’s Jerry Jeudy. The team might still make free agency moves for veterans like Cole Beasley or Odell Beckham Jr., but the trade market could be a more attractive way to bring in established talent to New York.
  • There is reportedly optimism that the Giants will be able to come to an agreement to re-sign pending free agent safety Julian Love. After two seasons of relatively down play, Love had a bounce-back, breakout season in a contract year. He led the team in tackles by a mile with 124 total and tacked on two interceptions for good measure. Love may not be expected to make top money at the position, but after playing out his rookie contract, it appears Love is on the right track to remaining in New York long-term.