If Courtland Sutton isn’t at training camp, Broncos could whistle on without him

Jun 12, 2024, 2:04 AM | Updated: 2:06 am

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Most of life exists in a gray area. So, too, does the status of Courtland Sutton as the load-bearing wall of the Denver Broncos wide-receiver corps.

He wants to be with the Denver Broncos. He said that on multiple occasions during a question-and-answer session after the first practice of minicamp Tuesday.

But he considered sitting out mandatory minicamp — which would have officially made him a holdout, subject to fines. That idea became something about which Sutton and his “team” engaged in conversations prior to him returning to Denver from his offseason base in Florida.

“It was something that was considered,” he said, “but I don’t think it was a high consideration just because I think that the point has been made already.”

The point being: He wants a restructured contract.

But if the point has been made, would a training-camp holdout be in play? When asked about that possibility, Courtland Sutton didn’t dismiss it.

“We’ll see. We’ll see what happens,” Sutton said. “You know, got a month to beable to get things situated. Hopefully things get situated because as you all have heard — and I will continue to say — this is where I want to be. This is home.”

And while Sutton expressed a sense of connection to Denver and the Broncos — discussing how he wants to remain to have a chance to be among the franchise’s legends, being a part of a potential Bo Nix era and trying to be part of building a champion — Sutton at times seemed to take on an air of resigned detachment from the situation.

His heart is in Denver, but his mind ponders the reality of what he called a “stalemate.”

“I mean, that’s above my pay grade,” Sutton said. “I know that the guys upstairs — the people upstairs that make those decisions — they have a rhyme and a reason for why they do it. It’s not for us to understand. We will never understand.

“The thing that I just have come to understand with this business that we’re in is they’re always going to say that it’s just business, never personal.

“And so, we got to move accordingly.”

An ocean of thoughts rests in those words.

What went unsaid was that when a business asserts, “It’s not personal” … it doesn’t mean that the individual on the other end of the dialogue doesn’t take it personally. Courtland Sutton didn’t say it.

“I’m hoping that we’re able to find a solution and get to the bottom of this,” Sutton said, “because this is where I want to be, and just hoping that it’s mutual.”

But the Broncos’ idea of a solution might not be what Sutton wants. It could involve having him play on a 32-month-old contract that now has him as the No. 25 wide receiver in average annual value, according to OvertheCap.

And if that arrangement isn’t acceptable to Sutton, it leads to the future, and the receivers who went about their paces Tuesday while Sutton worked on a side field.


First of all, nature — and sports — abhors a vacuum. Those 59 catches and 772 yards he amassed last year would come from someone else — and most likely a combination of someone elses.

Free-agent pickup Josh Reynolds has enjoyed a solid offseason. Marvin Mims Jr. seems to make one splash play at each practice open to media so far this offseason. Rookies Devaughn Vele and Troy Franklin have size and speed to spare — and so far, have shown a propensity to maximize their gifts.

And then there is Tim Patrick, who has been a constant in his return from a torn ACL and ruptured Achilles tendon, injuries suffered in consecutive training camps. Tuesday was Patrick’s finest day among the four practices observed, with his cuts crisp and his routes sharp — although, to be certain, Patrick looks like he still has some distance to cover before he’s all the way back in terms of straight-line speed and movement.

The Broncos’ wide-receiving room is unproven. And yes, there are question marks. But the answers may lie somewhere in the collective of growth from Mims, Vele and Franklin, consistency from Reynolds, the potential returns from injury for Patrick and Jalen Virgil and continued depth contributions from returning receivers such as Brandon Johnson and Lil’Jordan Humphrey.

Not all will be on the Broncos roster when they trim it to 53 players at summer’s end. But answers could rest in that room — answers to the question of how they replace Sutton if the contract impasse becomes a lingering problem into training camp and beyond.


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