Patrick Surtain

Broncos Do Not View Zach Wilson As Starter; Teams Believe Denver Could Trade Patrick Surtain For QB

The Broncos’ trade for Zach Wilson is not expected to affect the team’s plans in the first round. Sean Payton’s team still wants to add a passer, and it appears willing to go to the extreme to make it happen.

Wilson is not viewed as a starter in Denver, according to The Athletic’s Dianna Russini. A report late last week suggested the Broncos would be willing to include All-Pro cornerback Patrick Surtain in a deal to move up for a quarterback Thursday night, and Russini notes teams in the top five believe the Broncos could indeed include their top player in a package that gives them a passer Payton covets (subscription required).

While confirming Payton wants a quarterback — which has long been the expectation for the Broncos in Round 1, potentially via moving up or down from No. 12 — Russini adds the Broncos do have a limit regarding how much they are willing to give up. Veterans on expiring contracts could also be in play in a trade-up scenario. The Broncos do not have a 2024 second-round pick, limiting their draft arsenal compared to other teams — like the Vikings, Raiders and Giants — linked to moving up for a passer.

Denver has left tackle Garett Bolles on an expiring deal, and Courtland Sutton (signed through 2025 on a $15MM-per-year pact) has made it known he wants a new contract. Defensive tackle D.J. Jones is also heading into the final season of a three-year, $30MM deal. Denver, which dealt Jerry Jeudy to Cleveland, does not plan to trade Sutton. Though, that cannot be ruled out given the stakes here.

Neither Bolles nor Sutton would carry comparable value to Surtain, a two-time Pro Bowler who is going into his age-24 season. The Broncos picked up the high-end cornerback’s fifth-year option ($19.8MM) on Tuesday and are aiming to start extension talks post-draft. That is, if they still employ the standout boundary cover man by that point.

J.J. McCarthy and Bo Nix have repeatedly come up in connection with the Broncos, with the former almost definitely requiring a trade-up move to acquire. Nix has been viewed as a player who could be available later in the first round, and moving down would play into the Broncos’ hands after the team traded away three first-rounders — to acquire Payton and Russell Wilson — from 2022-23.

Zach Wilson not being viewed as a starter is somewhat interesting, though the thrice-benched passer has not exactly done anything to show he is worthy of such a path. But the Broncos do roster both Wilson and Jarrett Stidham, a player previous reports indicated could be the starter if it came to it come Week 1. It is clear, however, both Stidham (tied to a two-year, $10MM deal) and Wilson are bridge options for a Broncos team that has done extensive work on this year’s QB class.

This is set to be a pivotal span for a franchise that has been unable to find a true Peyton Manning successor since the all-time great’s post-Super Bowl 50 retirement.

2025 NFL Fifth-Year Option Tracker

NFL teams have until May 2 to officially pick up fifth-year options on 2021 first-rounders. 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 alternates) 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 receive 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 will use the space below to track all the option decisions from around the league:

  1. QB Trevor Lawrence, Jaguars ($25.66MM): Exercised
  2. QB Zach Wilson, Broncos* ($22.41MM): Declined
  3. QB Trey Lance, Cowboys** ($22.41MM): Declined
  4. TE Kyle Pitts, Falcons ($10.88MM): Exercised
  5. WR Ja’Marr Chase, Bengals ($21.82MM): Exercised
  6. WR Jaylen Waddle, Dolphins ($15.59MM): Exercised
  7. T Penei Sewell, Lions ($19MM): Extended through 2029
  8. CB Jaycee Horn, Panthers ($12.47MM): Exercised
  9. CB Patrick Surtain, Broncos ($19.82MM): Exercised
  10. WR DeVonta Smith, Eagles ($15.59MM): Extended through 2028
  11. QB Justin Fields, Steelers*** ($25.66MM): Declined
  12. DE Micah Parsons, Cowboys ($21.32MM): Exercised
  13. T Rashawn Slater, Chargers ($19MM): Exercised
  14. OL Alijah Vera-Tucker, Jets ($13.31MM): Exercised
  15. QB Mac Jones, Jaguars**** ($25.66MM): Declined
  16. LB Zaven Collins, Cardinals ($13.25MM): Declined
  17. T Alex Leatherwood, Raiders: N/A
  18. LB Jaelan Phillips, Dolphins ($13.3MM): Exercised
  19. LB Jamin Davis, Commanders ($14.48MM): Declined
  20. WR Kadarius Toney, Chiefs***** ($14.35MM): Declined
  21. DE Kwity Paye, Colts ($13.4MM): Exercised
  22. CB Caleb Farley, Titans ($12.47MM): Declined
  23. T Christian Darrisaw, Vikings ($16MM): Exercised
  24. RB Najee Harris, Steelers ($6.79MM): Declined
  25. RB Travis Etienne, Jaguars ($6.14MM): Exercised
  26. CB Greg Newsome, Browns ($13.38MM): To be exercised
  27. WR Rashod Bateman, Ravens ($14.35MM): N/A; extended through 2026
  28. DE Payton Turner, Saints ($13.39MM): Declined
  29. CB Eric Stokes, Packers ($12.47MM): Declined
  30. DE Greg Rousseau, Bills ($13.39MM): Exercised
  31. LB Odafe Oweh, Ravens ($13.25MM): Exercised
  32. LB Joe Tryon-Shoyinka, Buccaneers ($13.25MM): Declined

* = Jets traded Wilson on April 22, 2024
** = 49ers traded Lance on August 25, 2023
*** = Bears traded Fields on March 16, 2024
**** = Patriots traded Jones on March 10, 2024
***** = Giants traded Toney on October 27, 2022

Broncos Exercise CB Patrick Surtain’s Fifth-Year Option

A formality given Patrick Surtain‘s accomplishments on his rookie contract, the Broncos are extending their top player’s deal through 2025. Denver officially is picking up Surtain’s fifth-year option, ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter tweets.

GM George Paton confirmed the team would go this route with Surtain in February, and as a multi-time Pro Bowler, the former top-10 pick is tied to the highest option price for a cornerback. That number checks in at $19.8MM, matching this year’s CB franchise tag tender.

The Broncos are the second team to officially exercise an option for a 2021 draftee; in extending DeVonta Smith, the Eagles picked up his option. Smith’s former teammate at Alabama, Surtain joins Micah Parsons and Ja’Marr Chase as 2021 draftees eligible for the top option price at their respective position. Players need to have made two original-ballot Pro Bowls on their rookie deal to become eligible for the franchise tag number.

Surtain, 24, has become one of the NFL’s best corners. With the Broncos cutting four-time second-team All-Pro Justin Simmons, there is little doubt Surtain enters the team’s offseason program as its top player. The second-generation NFL corner earned first-team All-Pro acclaim in 2022, helping keep Denver’s defense afloat during a miserable season on offense. Surtain did not quite reach that level in 2023, but the 6-foot-2 cover man earned a Pro Bowl nod.

This expected transaction does come amid a bit of uncertainty regarding Surtain’s Denver status. The Broncos have expressed obvious interest in extending the ascending defender, and the Denver Gazette’s Chris Tomasson adds extension talks are expected to ramp up after the draft.

While Paton drafted him back in 2021, Sean Payton was still in New Orleans at that point. Granted, the Saints were rumored to be interested in Surtain then. But the Broncos need a quarterback — their Zach Wilson trade notwithstanding — and Surtain may be the chip required to vault the team up the board in Round 1. Previously mentioned as hesitant to give up Surtain in a deal that would allow them to move up from No. 12 into QB territory, the Broncos seem a bit more open to the prospect as the draft nears.

It would certainly represent risk for the Broncos to bail on this type of asset so early in his career, and such a move would then create a glaring CB need. But the Broncos have, for the most part, carried a QB need for the past eight years. As mentioned in this week’s Trade Rumors Front Office installment, Payton may view Surtain as a necessary trade chip — in an AFC flooded with high-end passers — in a quest to climb into range for J.J. McCarthy or Drake Maye. Payton is believed to be high on the former, which is interesting given the buzz tying the Giants and Vikings to the latter this week.

The Broncos wanted two first-rounders to merely start a conversation about Surtain before last year’s deadline. Three teams made offers, though none were believed to be in that ballpark. As the draft nears, Surtain — used as one of the models for the Broncos’ new uniforms Monday — could be discussed further in deals. For now, he is on the Broncos’ books at $1.1MM in base salary this season. That certainly makes him an attractive trade piece, should this process rev into high gear leading up to the draft.

Broncos HC Sean Payton Prepared To “Mortgage Future” To Trade Up For QB?

Broncos GM George Paton recently conceded that he would be prepared to part with future first-round draft picks to trade up from the No. 12 overall selection in this year’s draft if such a move allows him to select a franchise quarterback. We have also heard that while head coach Sean Payton is naturally interested in a trade-up for a QB, the club may ultimately choose to trade down to accumulate more assets; after all, thanks to the trades bringing Russell Wilson and Payton to Denver, the Broncos have not made a first-round selection since 2021 and do not have a second-round choice this year.

Tony Pauline of Sportskeeda.com, however, hears that Payton is not merely willing to contemplate a move up the board. The former Super Bowl-winning HC — who narrowly missed out on drafting Patrick Mahomes in 2017 when the Chiefs moved up 17 spots to leapfrog the Payton-led Saints to land the future star — is reportedly prepared to “mortgage the franchise’s future” to acquire one of the top passer prospects in the 2024 class.

The near miss on Mahomes has, according to Pauline’s sources, left a sour taste in Payton’s mouth, and he is looking to right past wrongs. Given that the teams holding the top three selections in this year’s draft have the need to add blue chip signal-callers of their own, the Cardinals’ No. 4 overall choice is perhaps the highest pick the Broncos could theoretically acquire. Arizona is certainly open for business, but it is unclear just how far down the board the team would be willing to go, and the same can be said of the Chargers, who hold the No. 5 pick and who may not want to give a division rival the opportunity to draft a franchise QB.

It is certainly possible that Caleb Williams, Jayden Daniels, and Drake Maye will be taken with the first three picks of the draft and will therefore be unavailable for the Broncos. Per Pauline, that would suit Payton just fine, as he is said to have his eyes set on Michigan’s J.J. McCarthy. McCarthy’s blend of intelligence and ability to get the ball out of his hands quickly is particularly appealing to Payton, perhaps because it reminds him so much of longtime charge Drew Brees.

Of course, this is hardly the first time that the Broncos have been rumored to be interested in trading up for a quarterback. All of the earlier reports to that effect have noted how costly such an endeavor would be, and Pauline acknowledges that Denver’s package would need to include at least one future first-rounder, the No. 12 pick this year, and cornerback Patrick Surtain II. Pauline himself said back in February that the heavy cost of jumping up the draft board would likely preclude the Broncos from doing so, and that the team would only deal Surtain as a last resort.

It seems that much has changed in the past couple of months, with Payton now prepared to do whatever it takes to nab a prospect like McCarthy. We learned just last week that the Broncos may be more receptive to the notion of trading Surtain than they were at last season’s trade deadline, and Pauline’s report is consistent with that line of thinking.

If Denver is ultimately unable to jump up the board, Payton & Co. would content themselves with Oregon’s Bo Nix as Plan B. A recent projection suggested that the Ravens, who hold the No. 30 overall pick, may be willing to deal that selection to the Broncos, who would use it to select Nix. A subsequent report indicated that Baltimore is not, in fact, looking to move out of the first round, though the right offer can of course change draft plans in a hurry.

Only a small percentage of Pauline’s sources believe the Broncos would select Nix with their No. 12 choice. That stands to reason in light of a recent report from Ari Meirov of The33rdTeam.com, who hears from league executives that Nix is more of a Day 2 prospect.

‘Heavy Expectation’ Broncos Draft QB In First Round

Operating with Rams-level disregard for first-round picks over the previous two offseasons, the Broncos traded three Round 1 selections in the Russell Wilson and Sean Payton swaps. The team does not have a second-round pick this year as a result of the latter move. As quarterback-needy teams’ draft arsenals are stacked up, the Broncos’ war chest is limited.

Denver holds the No. 12 overall pick, and while it retains its first- and second-rounders beyond this year, Minnesota and Las Vegas are in better position regarding draft capital. Both the Vikings and Raiders also identified clear bridge options for 2024, with Sam Darnold and Gardner Minshew coming off the free agency board early. This certainly leaves the Broncos with work to do, unless they truly are OK with Jarrett Stidham starting a sizable chunk of the 2024 season.

Teams are obviously monitoring the Broncos as a team interested in a QB, and the Washington Post’s Jason La Canfora indicates a heavy expectation exists the AFC West club will draft a passer at some point in Round 1.

Options to do so would range from trading up — and parting with a major asset package — to making sure either Bo Nix or Michael Penix Jr. comes to Colorado via a No. 12 investment. Option three would involve attempting to both grab one of those passers later in the round while picking up some assets by moving down. It could be a complicated night for the Broncos, who are set to eat more than $50MM of Wilson’s record-setting $85MM in dead money this year.

It cost the 49ers two future first-round picks and a third-rounder to move from No. 12 to No. 3 for Trey Lance in 2021. For the Broncos to consider a similar package to climb into the top three would shove them into Rams territory. While Los Angeles famously did not made a first-round pick from 2017-23, that team reaped rewards for the bevy of moves out of Round 1. The Wilson trade burned the Broncos, and making another big move because the 2022 swap failed would deprive the franchise of opportunities to add high-end talent at low costs. Given the dead money from the Wilson contract, the Broncos need cost-controlled assets — even though they also need a quarterback.

On this note, NFL.com’s Peter Schrager adds the team would love to move into the top four to draft a QB but, due to the cost of such a move, stops short of predicting they will do this. Denver also possesses needs at cornerback opposite Patrick Surtain and perhaps at edge rusher.

Unless the Broncos want to entertain a Surtain trade — something one GM informed La Canfora they could be willing to do, given the rumblings at the 2023 trade deadline — future draft capital would need to be used to climb up the draft board. The Broncos are eyeing a long-term Surtain extension, and they wanted at least two first-rounders for the All-Pro cornerback in the fall. A separate GM, however, said the Broncos were more likely to hang onto Surtain due to Payton not viewing this as a long-term rebuild project.

Both the Broncos and Vikings were mentioned as having done early work on QBs (with regards to moving up) back in February, but Minnesota acquiring No. 23 overall from Houston has led to far more buzz on the NFC North team moving up. Still, a recent offering from ESPN.com’s Jeremy Fowler reveals multiple teams believe the Broncos or Vikings could loom as destinations for J.J. McCarthy. The Michigan alum looks to have rocketed up the draft board during the pre-draft process, impressing at his pro day after winning a national championship.

A fit in Payton’s scheme points to the Denver tie, Fowler adds. McCarthy could be the target for teams outside the top four, with the Cardinals making it known they are willing to trade down. It would cost the Broncos at least one future first and perhaps two. That will be a big decision to make, as Payton’s choice to re-enter the coaching ranks would see a radically adjusted arc if the team he ended up with sacrifices more future firsts as his tenure takes shape. The Broncos did host McCarthy on a “30” visit this year.

While Payton famously said the Saints were eyeing Patrick Mahomes as a Drew Brees heir apparent in 2017, a move to secure the Broncos a potential long-term option — unless the Nix ties prove genuine — could be quite costly. This will be an interesting team to watch in the coming days and once the draft starts.

Broncos To Pick Up Patrick Surtain’s Fifth-Year Option

In a decision similar to the first fifth-year option call in Broncos history (Von Miller‘s), the team will extend Patrick Surtain‘s contract through 2025.

The Broncos will make the “easy decision” to exercise Surtain’s fifth-year option, GM George Paton said Tuesday. The No. 9 overall pick in the 2021 draft, Surtain has become one of the NFL’s best cornerbacks. He is almost definitely the Broncos’ top player, and the team is naturally interested in a long-term extension.

Picking up Surtain’s option will buy the Broncos time on that front; he will have two more years of control remaining as a result of the long-expected transaction. The salary cap coming in at a surprising $255.4MM will bump Surtain’s option number a bit. Because Surtain is a two-time Pro Bowler, his option price lands on the top tier of the layered option structure. For cornerbacks, that number checks in at $19.8MM, matching this year’s CB franchise tag tender.

Criticized for passing on Justin Fields three years ago, the Broncos joined the Panthers in choosing a corner over the Ohio State QB prospect. Injuries have impacted Jaycee Horn‘s ascent, while Surtain has stayed healthy thus far. Denver has been unable to solve its long-running quarterback issue, but Surtain has become one of the 2021 draft’s top players. He earned first-team All-Pro honors in 2022 and was named a 2023 Pro Bowler. Following the likes of Champ Bailey, Chris Harris and Aqib Talib as All-Pro Broncos corners over the past two decades, Surtain will likely see his extension talks begin with the clear expectation of him becoming the NFL’s highest-paid corner.

Surtain, 23, drew trade interest at the deadline. The Broncos set the price at two first-round picks to initiate a conversation, and while multiple teams were believed to have made offers, none came in on that level. Surtain trade rumors may persist, and the 49ers were among the teams to have reached out about the second-generation NFL corner, but the team as of now is planning to move forward with its top cover man.

Vikings, Broncos On Radar To Trade Up For First-Round QB?

This year’s draft could begin with three quarterbacks, and the teams currently holding the top choices have been steadily linked to taking a first-round passer. Teams in need of signal-callers who do not carry friendly draft real estate will, of course, be monitoring the buzz circulating around the Bears, Commanders and Patriots’ draft blueprints.

Two clubs who appear to be among those watching top QB prospects look to be those positioned just outside the top 10. Holding the Nos. 11 and 12 overall picks, the Vikings and Broncos are believed to be interested in drafting a quarterback high. While it will take considerable draft capital to climb into the top three, neither of these two are in good shape at the position. Minnesota, however, may still have the inside track on Kirk Cousins, who has expressed his fondness for his Twin Cities situation on a number of occasions.

[RELATED: Vikings Want To Re-Sign Kirk Cousins]

Some around the league are keeping an eye on the Vikings’ interest in moving up for a passer, ESPN.com’s Jeremy Fowler offers, noting the team did extensive work on the QB front last year. The Vikes were the team most closely tied to showing Trey Lance interest — before the Cowboys completed a trade for the former 49ers No. 3 overall pick — and they did not come to an agreement on another extension with Cousins.

Guaranteed money into the deal’s third year provided a sticking point, and the Vikings merely restructured Cousins’ contract. The latter transaction has put Minnesota in a time crunch, and the team could face the prospect of losing its starting QB — who has mentioned testing free agency — and being hit with a $28.5MM dead-money bill brought on by void years. If the Vikings do not re-sign Cousins by the start of the 2024 league year (March 13), that $28.5MM accelerates onto their 2024 cap sheet. Not quite the Tom Brady void years-driven cap charge the Buccaneers just faced ($35.1MM), but that is a high dead-cap number devoted to one player.

Cousins, 35, will undoubtedly factor in a potential Vikings desire to trade up for a quarterback into his latest free agency decision. Cousins is the longest-tenured Vikings QB1 since Tommy Kramer, narrowly edging Daunte Culpepper as the third-longest-tenured QB1 in team history. Like Culpepper in 2005, Cousins is coming off a major injury. The Vikings and other teams will be factoring Cousins’ Achilles tear into prospective offers.

The Broncos are almost definitely moving on from Russell Wilson, preparing to enter dead-money infamy in the process. The forthcoming dead-cap hit will cost the Broncos $84.6MM, which will be spread over two offseasons due to the expected post-June 1 designation. This stands to limit the Broncos’ interest in pursuing a pricey veteran — should any starter-caliber arms be available by the time the legal tampering period begins March 11 — and would naturally make Sean Payton‘s team more interested in a draft investment. The Wilson-fronted five-game win streak midway through this season, however, moved the Broncos down to the No. 12 slot. That will complicate a move into high-end QB real estate.

A rumor at the East-West Shrine Game involved Payton being interested in the Broncos moving up to draft Caleb Williams, Drake Maye or Jayden Daniels, Sportskeeda’s Tony Pauline writes. Of course, the cost of doing business here would be steep — and the team would need a willing seller. The prospect of Denver trading up may already be drowning in cold water, too, with Pauline adding the team should not be considered likely to move in this direction because of the draft capital — and/or established players — that would need to be included.

The Broncos gave up their first-round picks in 2022 and ’23 in the Wilson trade, and while they obtained a 2023 first-rounder from the Dolphins in the Bradley Chubb swap, it was subsequently thrown in to acquire Payton’s rights last year. This stands to be the Broncos’ first chance to use a Round 1 pick since they nabbed Patrick Surtain ninth overall in 2021. Surtain has become one of the NFL’s top young corners, and GM George Patonwho is still with the team despite being the point man behind the Wilson and Nathaniel Hackett calls — said Surtain is viewed as a cornerstone piece. Denver’s actions at last year’s trade deadline, which featured at least two first-rounders to even warrant a Surtain discussion, back that up. Pauline adds the Broncos do not want to part with Surtain and would only do so as a last resort in an effort to trade up for a QB.

Wilson’s 2023 rebound notwithstanding, the Broncos have obviously struggled to fill this spot since Peyton Manning‘s 2016 retirement. They were in the Cousins mix in 2018 but bowed out — as the Vikings emerged in pole position — en route to Case Keenum. The Broncos would seemingly have another shot at Cousins now, though QB demand would still make the veteran starter costly — even after the Achilles tear. As of early February, the Vikings are projected to hold more than $24MM in cap space; the Broncos are nearly $24MM over the projected salary ceiling.

Most around the NFL view the Broncos reconciling with Wilson as unlikely, Fowler adds. If Wilson were to remain on Denver’s roster past the fifth day of the 2024 league year, his 2025 base salary ($37MM) locks in. That would balloon Denver’s 2025 dead money for a Wilson release past $85MM. Hence, the team’s controversial maneuvering in an attempt to move the date on which Wilson’s injury guarantee vests.

Although Wilson was fond of Payton prior to the parties’ partnership, Fowler adds Payton let it be known behind the scenes he was not big on the ex-Seahawks star. Wilson’s penchant for creating plays out of structure ran counter to how Payton prefers his offense to run, being part of the reason — along with the injury guarantee — the Broncos benched him for Jarrett Stidham in Week 17. Fowler mentions Minnesota as a destination Wilson would likely pursue, given Kevin O’Connell‘s presence, in the event Cousins leaves after six years. O’Connell worked alongside ex-Seahawks OC Shane Waldron under Sean McVay. The Vikings also roster Justin Jefferson, Jordan Addison and T.J. Hockenson.

If/once Wilson departs Denver, his next team will not need to pay him nearly what the Broncos and Seahawks have. Wilson’s 2023 rebound still probably places him as a mid-tier starter, but Fowler adds his next team could build around him more effectively due to the offset language in the Broncos’ five-year, $245MM extension. Wilson signing at a low rate would be punitive for the Broncos, as their two-year starter’s next deal helps determine how much dead money will be on tap.

Cousins and Wilson join Baker Mayfield and Ryan Tannehill as experienced starter options set to hit the market. But Denver and Minnesota will need to weigh their chances of trading up in Round 1 against spending on a veteran. There will be plenty of moving parts at QB for certain teams this offseason, with the Bears’ upcoming Williams-or-Justin Fields decision a rather important domino as well.

Broncos Eyeing Patrick Surtain Extension, Unlikely To Spend Big In Free Agency

Although Patrick Surtain did not repeat his first-team All-Pro performance from 2022, the standout Broncos cornerback earned his second Pro Bowl nod. As expected, the Broncos kept Surtain out of trades at the deadline. The next step — once Surtain’s fifth-year option is exercised — would be an extension.

The Broncos sound interested in that coming to fruition at some point, with GM George Paton indicating (via the Denver Post’s Parker Gabriel) the team wants the third-year corner in Denver for a long time. Surtain became extension-eligible last week, though the fifth-year option buys the Broncos another year.

The cornerback salary ceiling still sits at $21MM (Jaire Alexander), but with the cap back on a steady climb and young corners like Surtain and Sauce Gardner immediately establishing themselves as top-tier talents, $25MM per year is probably a better projection for where the top CB salary will be by the time these two land extensions. Gardner does not become eligible for a new deal until 2025, but Surtain has become the Broncos’ defensive centerpiece.

Teams generally wait until Year 5 to extend first-rounders, due to the option, but the Broncos are in an atypical situation. Their expected Russell Wilson post-June 1 cut designation will produce a larger cap hit in 2025 compared to 2024, with the total package coming to $84.6MM in dead cap. That record-shattering figure will complicate matters for the Broncos, who will have Surtain undoubtedly eyeing CB-record money when talks begin.

The Broncos extended Chris Harris and signed Aqib Talib, but their last brush with top-tier CB money came when they extended Champ Bailey after acquiring him 20 years ago. Surtain is closer to Bailey’s trajectory compared to Denver’s recent CB All-Pros, pointing to a monster extension either this year or next. Denver would also have the franchise tag at its disposal in 2026, when the Wilson contractual damage is projected to be finished.

As for this year, the Broncos are not expected to be big spenders. After splurging for Mike McGlinchey, Ben Powers and Zach Allen on Day 1 of the 2023 legal tampering period, Denver will be restricted by both the Wilson contract — which would call for $35MM in 2024 dead money — and its limited cap space. Paton said (via the Denver Gazette’s Chris Tomasson) the team will not be in on the first wave of free agency come March. The team currently features the NFL’s fifth-worst 2024 cap situation, though it is poised to enter the draft with a first-round pick for the first time since 2021, when Surtain arrived at No. 9 overall. The Broncos hold the No. 12 pick.

Additionally, free agents-to-be Josey Jewell and P.J. Locke would prefer to stay in Denver, Tomasson adds. Jewell played out a two-year, $11MM deal and has now started 58 games since being chosen in the 2018 second round. Locke ended up usurping Kareem Jackson to become a starting safety, making an impact as a blitzer during Denver’s five-game win streak. Jewell and Locke, a former UDFA, could see their statuses complicated by other contracts at their respective positions. Justin Simmons is attached to a $15.25MM-per-year deal, though that through-2024 pact contains no more guaranteed money, while Denver gave top tackler Alex Singleton a three-year accord worth $18MM in 2023.

The Broncos stood pat at the trade deadline, but Jewell’s name may have come up. The Cowboys targeted linebacking help last October, and ESPN.com’s Ed Werder notes they discussed a deal with the Broncos. It is not known if Jewell or Singleton was Dallas’ target, though the former was in a contract year. The Cowboys later pursued Shaquille Leonard, seeing him sign with the Eagles. Jewell and Singleton have been the Broncos’ ILB starters for two seasons.

49ers Pursued Trade For Broncos CB Patrick Surtain

Backing off their previously designated “open for business” status at the trade deadline, the Broncos did not end up moving anyone beyond stripping their roster of veteran defensive ends Randy Gregory and Frank Clark. The team nevertheless fielded extensive inquiries into its top players.

While Justin Simmons and Jerry Jeudy generated interest, the latter drawing an offer of third- and fifth-round picks, Denver stood down. Even as the team was believed to be nearing sell mode after a 1-5 start, it was never believed to be open to trading its top player. But clubs still contacted the Broncos to see what it would take for them to move Patrick Surtain. At least three made offers. The 49ers may have been one of them.

San Francisco pursued a few corners at the trade deadline, being one of the initial teams reported to have negotiated with the Bears on Jaylon Johnson. The 49ers also discussed Nate Hobbs with the Raiders, but the San Francisco Chronicle’s Eric Branch indicates the team pursued Surtain as well. The Oct. 31 deadline came with the 49ers mired in a three-game losing streak, as the team played multiple games without Trent Williams and Deebo Samuel. But pass defense issues loomed as well.

This particular target was never especially realistic, with a separate November report noting the Broncos set a two-first-rounder price to even begin a serious conversation about a Surtain trade. The Jaguars received that haul for Jalen Ramsey in 2019, with the All-Pro seeking a path out of Jacksonville. Surtain, meanwhile, solidified himself as a Broncos cornerstone last season by becoming a first-team All-Pro corner — the franchise’s first such achievement at the position since Chris Harris and Aqib Talib each earned that distinction in 2016. Surtain, 23, will be signed through 2025 once the Broncos pick up his fifth-year option by May.

The 49ers, who did not add a corner at the deadline, swung for the fences on Surtain because they were concerned about the performances of Ambry Thomas and Isaiah Oliver, Branch adds. But the team, which is now riding a three-game win streak, has seen post-deadline improvement from the former. A 2021 third-round pick, Thomas has been the 49ers’ No. 3 during their recent surge. He has checked in as a part of San Francisco’s nickel package, working as a boundary corner and kicking Deommodore Lenoir into the slot in that frequently used package.

Pro Football Focus now rates Thomas as the 49ers’ top corner this season, slotting him 11th after 11 games. Oliver, who signed to play the slot role this offseason, has seen his usage significantly minimized. The ex-Falcons second-rounder has played a combined six defensive snaps over the past three games.

Denver’s lone in-season trade came with San Francisco, which acquired Gregory in a late-round swap of 2024 picks. Gregory has played a rotational role for the 49ers, who made a bigger move by obtaining Chase Young less than hour before the deadline. That deal came after the Commanders reduced their asking price on the former No. 2 overall pick. Gregory has one sack and four QB hits since joining the 49ers, working exclusively as a backup.

Three Teams Made Trade Offers For Broncos CB Patrick Surtain

Following their walk-off win over the Bills, the Broncos may have made the right decision in standing pat at the trade deadline. The team has gone from 1-5 to 4-5 in Sean Payton‘s first season, now residing in a glut of AFC teams vying for wild-card spots. While offers came in for Jerry Jeudy, teams also explored Patrick Surtain.

Leading up to the deadline, the Broncos had made it fairly clear they were not looking to move Surtain. They are believed to have set the price of two first-rounders to even begin discussions, but ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter notes seven teams still contacted the Broncos regarding the All-Pro cornerback’s availability. Three of those made offers.

None of the proposals moved the needle, with Schefter adding the Broncos did not consider trading their top player. Surtain is off to a strong start, joining Dallas’ Micah Parsons and San Francisco safety Talanoa Hufanga as the only first-team All-Pros from the 2021 draft class. Surtain, 23, staying on his current course will call for an easy fifth-year option decision by May and put him on track for a record-setting extension.

It took two first-rounders for the Jaguars to trade Jalen Ramsey in 2019, his fourth season. But Ramsey had aimed to be moved; no speedbumps have occurred during Surtain’s time in Denver. The second-generation corner can be kept on his rookie contract, once the fifth-year option becomes official, until 2025. Payton’s team kept Marshon Lattimore on his rookie deal through his 2021 option year; Surtain on this contract represents one of the most valuable commodities in the game.

Surtain also has some pre-Denver ties to both the Broncos’ current power brokers. Broncos GM George Paton was a Dolphins exec during part of Patrick Surtain Sr.‘s tenure in Miami, and the Saints attempted to trade up for the Alabama prospect in 2021. The younger Surtain went to the Broncos at No. 9 overall that year.

Some around the Broncos’ organization view Surtain as the most talented corner they have come across, Schefter adds. The 2022 All-Pro most recently displayed his coverage prowess against Stefon Diggs on Monday night. The Broncos have enjoyed talented corners for most of this century. Chris Harris collected three All-Pro nods and is on the short list for top slot corners in NFL history, while Aqib Talib was 4-for-4 in Pro Bowls as a Bronco. Although it is early, Surtain’s career arc is closer to Hall of Famer Champ Bailey‘s. The Broncos rostered the first-ballot Hall of Famer for 10 seasons, but they did not acquire the perennial Pro Bowler until his sixth year — via the 2004 Bailey-Clinton Portis swap.

While contract talks or a potential franchise tag situation down the line could change this relationship, it should be expected Surtain’s rookie deal will turn into a mega-extension at some point in the mid-2020s.

Additionally, Schefter said Monday night the Broncos received an offer of third- and fifth-round picks for Jeudy. The team had held out for a first-rounder this offseason, and although Darius Slay went for this picks package years ago, the Broncos have Jeudy signed through 2024. Interest cooled in the Alabama alum, who has been inconsistent this season. But the Broncos still received a reasonable offer for a player without a 1,000-yard season on his resume. They could certainly revisit trade talks next year, considering how frequently Jeudy’s name has come up in trade rumors. For now, they will move forward with the former first-round pick.