Courtland Sutton’s return blocking the path of young Broncos WRs

Jun 11, 2024, 4:00 AM

The young Denver Broncos WRs need time to grow and develop this season.

Just like rookie QB Bo Nix.

And what better way to have Nix, Marvin Mims Jr., Troy Franklin and Devaughn Vele build chemistry than having them all on the field at the same time?

It’s a no-brainer that Nix should start Week 1 in Seattle, as wasting time with Jarrett Stidham and Zach Wilson isn’t thinking about the future. We saw Stidham the last two games of 2023, and it wasn’t impressive. By all accounts from Broncos OTAs, Wilson just doesn’t have the “it” factor that made him a former No. 2 overall pick.

This much is obvious.

But what’s less obvious, is the celebrated return of Courtland Sutton on Tuesday isn’t actually a good thing for the long-term outlook of the Broncos. When Sutton announced he’d be at mandatory minicamp, many fans in Denver were relieved. The best wide receiver on the team was returning, and all might be well.

First, it likely isn’t. Sutton just doesn’t want to get fined, as 9NEWS and 104.3 The Fan Broncos insider Mike Klis reported. And who could blame him? Sutton would lose more than $100,000 if he wasn’t at Broncos Park Powered by CommonSpirit this week.

The decision to show up is a wise one, but it doesn’t mean he’s still not looking for a bump in his contract and more guaranteed money. That’s Sutton’s right, but the numbers tell a different story. The Broncos are planning on paying him what he’s worth in 2024.

Sutton might still be unhappy with head coach Sean Payton and GM George Paton, and this situation could get worse before it gets better. Let’s see what happens in the six weeks between minicamp and training camp.

Still, there’s an even larger story looming. That’s the fact the if Sutton comes back, he’s going to be immediately inserted with the No. 1 offense. It’s where he belongs, but it also blocks the path for the second-year WR Mims and rookies Franklin and Vele.

Mims made the Pro Bowl in his first NFL season, but as a returner, not a wide receiver. Despite having a 100-yard game, Mims caught just 22 passes for 377 yards and one touchdown. At the NFL Combine in February, Payton blamed himself for not having Mims more involved in the offense.

“Without making a comparison first, I’d say with Mims, we saw him flourish as a returner. I really think the only thing that really stopped his progress as a receiver was us and trying to find roles,” Payton said.

That’s a stunning statement for an NFL head coach to make. He admitted his coaching staff didn’t do a good enough job getting Mims on the field as a wideout.

“He’s playing the same position as Jerry. I’ve said this a number of times, I think you’re going to see a lot of growth with this player,” Payton continued.

Well, the good news is Jerry Jeudy is no longer in with the Broncos. He got shipped to Cleveland in March. Jeudy is no longer blocking Mims.

But what if Sutton plays for Denver in 2024 and takes away reps from Franklin and Vele? Isn’t that creating the same problem all over again?

If Payton has learned his lesson with the young Broncos WRs, he’ll remove Sutton from the situation by trading him this summer.

That solves two issues.

One, Sutton gets to play for a contender and grants what could be a wish to leave town. His Twitter bio still reads “what’s next?” after the Broncos got rid of his friends in Jeudy and Russell Wilson.

And two, that gives Denver a chance to build around Nix and what is hopefully a dynamic trio in the future with Mims, Franklin and Vele. The clock has officially started on a rebuild, so why not accelerate it on offense by throwing everyone into the fire?

It might be an unpopular decision, but it’s the right one. The Broncos should welcome Sutton back on Tuesday, then get to work on finding him a new team.


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