If you take Sean Payton at his word, his rebuilding plan in Denver will not include an overhaul of the Broncos' receiving corps. Payton publicly rejected reports that the team is considering trading either Jerry Jeudy or Courtland Sutton during the Annual League Meeting.
"I see and read just like everyone else does," Payton said, via NFL Media. "Then occasionally, when someone really crowds the plate, I throw a fastball right at their chin, and they back up, and they're like, 'Alright.' And so I haven't thrown any fastballs lately, but we're not trading those two players.
"When people call and the phone rings like it does this time of year, (general manager) George Paton's job is to pick it up and say, 'Hey. Tell you what, we're not.' And so, we've received calls, you bet. Those are two good football players. But we're in the business of gathering talent right now. Why do people call? Because they know we're void of draft picks and that we might, because there was some discussions a year ago, I think, regarding Courtland. But we like the current group that we're working with."
Payton's comments contradict multiple reports that the Broncos have had talks with teams about possible trades involving both players. The team reportedly has also considered trading fellow wideout KJ Hamler, according to ESPN. Specifically, the Broncos are seeking at least one first-round pick should they deal Jeudy, according to The Athletic. The report states that Jeudy's name has come up in several recent trade conversations.
While ESPN's report claims that the Broncos are asking for significant returns for any trade involving those players, it adds that there is a general thought among NFL teams that at least one of the team's top receivers will be dealt.
Jeudy and Sutton were the Broncos' top two receivers last season. Jeudy, a former first-round pick, led Denver with 67 receptions for 972 yards and six touchdowns. Sutton, a former Pro Bowler and the Broncos' most-tenured wideout, caught 64 passes for 829 yards and two touchdowns during the 2022 season.
Like Jeudy, Hamler was part of the Broncos' 2020 draft class. Injuries limited Hamler, a third-round pick out of Penn State, to just 10 games over the past two seasons after catching 30 passes during his rookie campaign. Hamler missed 13 games after tearing his ACL in 2021, and he missed 10 games last season after injuring his hamstring.
While Hamler could fetch a late-round pick, the Broncos could possibly receive significant draft capital in the form of either a second or third-round pick exchange for either Sutton or Jeudy. Sutton, who is still only 27 years old, had a 1,100-yard season in 2019 with 34-year-old Joe Flacco, then-rookie Drew Lock and career journeyman Brandon Allen throwing him the ball. Sutton has continued to be a productive player after coming back from a knee injury that sidelined him for nearly all of the 2020 season.
A change of scenery might be exactly what Jeudy needs after a solid but unspectacular run in Denver. The 23-year-old wideout caught 52 passes for 856 yards and three touchdowns as a rookie while battling a case of the drops. After an injury limited him to just 10 games in 2021, Jeudy returned to have the best year of his young career last season. He averaged an impressive 14.5 yards per catch while setting career highs in receptions, receiving yards and touchdown receptions.
Based on Payton's comments, the Broncos are not currently planning to make a major trade regarding their wideouts. That could change, however, if Denver's brass is offered significant capital in exchange for one of their receivers.