BRONCOS

The Broncos would be making a massive mistake by trading Jerry Jeudy

Mar 21, 2023, 6:00 AM

You don’t give up on a former first-round pick this early.

You certainly don’t when they flashed major star potential at the end of a previous season.

That’s why the rumors surrounding Broncos wide receiver Jerry Jeudy make no sense. Could Denver really be trying to trade the former Alabama star?

We’ve heard it for a couple of weeks, with the latest indication coming on Monday when the Dallas Morning News reported the Cowboys explored a trade for Jeudy, but apparently balked at the price. Journalist David Moore says the Broncos wanted a first-round pick in return.

Why would Denver GM George Paton and head coach Sean Payton want to turn Jeudy into another rookie the team has to start over with? Assuming the first-rounder they got back was used on a wide receiver in the draft, that’d just be resetting the process. It doesn’t compute, and Paton and Payton would be making a massive mistake if they pulled the trigger on a deal.

Jeudy was awesome to end 2022, clearly developing a chemistry with QB Russell Wilson. Why would the Broncos take away one of Wilson’s biggest weapons when this season is all about finding out if the former Pro Bowl QB can be fixed? Something doesn’t add up.

In the final six games a season ago, Jeudy showed what we’ve dreamed of. He had a three-touchdown outing against the Chiefs. He was the only guy who showed up at the Christmas Day debacle against the Rams, catching six passes for 117 yards. And in the season finale against the Chargers, he went for 154 yards through the air and added another 39 yards running the football.

Jeudy is Denver’s No. 1 receiver right now, and it’s not particularly close. The other big name wideouts on the roster are all coming off torn ACLs at one point or another. Courtland Sutton’s being the furthest back (2020), KJ Hamler’s in the middle (2021) and Tim Patrick’s last summer (2022) during training camp.

Sutton certainly hasn’t regained the form that made him special coming out of SMU. He’s caught just four touchdowns over the last two seasons. Hamler’s a great story, a guy who’s been very open about his mental health struggles, but it’s unclear if he’ll ever be the same player. How Patrick performs this upcoming year is a wild card.

Inserting a rookie in Jeudy’s place would be an odd strategy. Wilson’s not getting any younger, and asking him to get on the same page with a new player is silly. Just when he and Jeudy start to click, the Broncos are looking to move on? Again, this chatter leads to way more questions than answers.

But it’s clear Denver is trying to upgrade the wide receiver position. On Monday, former Vikings WR Adam Thielen revealed he spoke with the Broncos about coming to town. It was yet another indication the team is looking for new players at the position.

Frankly, adding a guy like Thielen would’ve been totally fine. Veterans who have experienced NFL success is the direction the Broncos should be looking to go. But a kid who’s only played college ball if Jeudy’s moved for a pick? That’s backward thinking that should be put to bed.

If Denver is going to move a wideout, it needs to be Sutton. With only five selections in next month’s draft, that makes sense. Plus Denver would get some salary relief after over-paying Sutton with a contract extension in 2021. On the other hand, Jeudy on a rookie deal doesn’t provide them much cap help via a trade.

It’s time to put an end to the speculation. Paton and Payton should exercise Jeudy’s fifth-year option and keep him under team control until the spring of 2025. That shows management has faith in Jeudy, while kicking the can down the road on a future long-term deal.

If he plays great next season, they can hammer something out. If not, it provides one more year the teams gets to keep him and see if he can reach his potential.

Jeudy’s clearly an asset. And while the Broncos’ brass may look at him as a trade asset, they should view it in a different lens. He’s an asset to help Denver win, and win right now.

Trading him would be taking a big step back.

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The Broncos would be making a massive mistake by trading Jerry Jeudy