Broncos Position Preview: Is Courtland Sutton really a part of Denver’s long-term plans?

Editor’s note: Third in a series previewing the Broncos’ position groups entering training camp. Today, wide receivers. Previous previews: quarterbacks, running backs.

On the roster (12): Courtland Sutton, Tim Patrick, Josh Reynolds, Marvin Mims Jr., Troy Franklin, Jalen Virgil, Brandon Johnson, Devaughn Vele, Phillip Dorsett, Michael Bandy, Lil’Jordan Humphrey and David Sills V.

How many on the 53? Five

Most impactful offseason move: Trading away Jerry Jeudy

Denver shook up its wide receivers room in March when it traded Jeudy to the Cleveland Browns for a pair of late-round draft picks. Now Jeudy gets a fresh start after an underwhelming stint in the Mile High City while Mims has a chance to make a bigger impact on offense after riding in the backseat as a rookie.

“I don’t want to say holding (Mims) back, but you’re trying to get snaps with Jeudy, and (wide receiver) Courtland (Sutton),” coach Sean Payton said. “I think we’ll see a lot of growth from Year 1 to Year 2.”

Biggest question to answer in camp: Is Courtland Sutton really a part of Denver’s long-term plans?

Sutton has made it known that he is not happy about his contract situation. Last month, the veteran wideout said he and the Broncos are at a “stalemate” in negotiations and didn’t confirm whether he will report to training camp next month if his contract situation remains unresolved. Sutton, an unrestricted free agent in 2026, has a cap hit of $17.3 million in 2024 and $17.8 million in 2025. However, he doesn’t have any guaranteed money outside of the $2 million for this season, according to Over the Cap.

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Sutton, who spent OTAs in Florida to rehab from offseason ankle surgery, believes he is a part of Denver’s long-term plans. But if both sides don’t find a middle ground in contract talks, what’s next for him? He is arguably Denver’s best offensive weapon, recording 10 touchdown receptions in 2023. At the same time, the Broncos have shown that they want to get younger at the position. Sutton’s name has been in trade rumors over the past two seasons, and according to Over the Cap, the Broncos could save $13.57 million by sending him to another team.

Battle to watch: Who will take the final spots on the roster?

At the moment, Denver’s top three wide receivers seem to be Sutton, Mims and Reynolds, who signed with the Broncos after spending the last two seasons in Detroit. Denver could carry four, maybe five wide receivers on the initial 53-man roster, so it will be interesting to see which players make up the final spots on the depth chart. Tim Patrick moved around well during OTAs and minicamp. But after back-to-back season-ending injuries, there are questions about how much he has left in the tank. Franklin was considered an early Day 2 pick before falling to the fourth round. He has tremendous speed and can generate a ton of yards after the catch, traits Denver’s offense needs. After Brandon Johnson made the 53-man roster last season, he might have an uphill climb in cracking a rotational spot due the return of Patrick and the new additions to the wide receiver room.

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Under-the-radar player: Devaughn Vele

Vele, a seventh-round draft pick, is a player to watch. The 26-year-old rookie was solid during the team’s offseason program as a reliable, big-body target in the middle of the field. Payton seems impressed with Vele thus far, and the former Utah standout could make some noise during camp.

“He’s that player that’s proven at the college level he’s comfortable inside these numbers,” Payton said. “There are some traits you see from him that I think (WR) Tim Patrick has … when you look at their size and where they can align.”

Thursday: Tight end

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