When the Denver Broncos drafted Jerry Jeudy, perhaps the most dynamic route runner coming into the NFL, with the 15th pick of the 2020 NFL Draft, the franchise envisioned the type of 1-2 punch with him and QB Drew Lock that the Minnesota Vikings now have with Kirk Cousins and Justin Jefferson.
Jeudy was the second receiver taken in the draft behind fellow Alabama alum Henry Ruggs (now in prison). Those who followed? CeeDee Lamb (Pro Bowler), Justin Jefferson (perhaps the top receiver in the league), Brandon Aiyuk, and Tee Higgins. All of those players have been more successful in their position than Jeudy.
Throughout his four-year career, he has shown flashes but has also struggled with drops, concentration, and the ability to stay healthy. He has yet to exceed 1,000 yards receiving (something typically expected of a top-15 pick), and outside of a five-game stretch in 2022 when the season was in garbage time mode, he really hasn’t lived up to his billing.
And now things have come to a head.
The Broncos are now 1-5 and face down a difficult schedule the rest of the season. The team has already parted ways with pass rushers Frank Clark and Randy Gregory, and there appears to be a sell-now mentality as the league approached the Halloween trade deadline. Jeudy was mentioned as a potential trade candidate this past offseason when Sean Payton took the head coaching position, and while nothing came of it then, talks are heating back up now.
Sources have told me that the #Colts and #Broncos have had extensive trade discussions about a deal that would send WR Jerry Jeudy to Indianapolis.— Destin Adams (@TheDestinAdams) October 19, 2023
No deal has been finalized or agreed to at this time but this has progressed beyond exploratory conversations. pic.twitter.com/IZceuHf6Pe
As trade talks surrounding Jeudy get louder, the receiver himself has apparently decided to remove any and all filters about his current situation.
The first sign of that came prior to the Thursday Night Football contest with the Kansas City Chiefs, in which former All-Pro and current analyst Steve Smith made attempts to apologize to Jeudy for what he deemed to be out-of-line commentary during a podcast, and Jeudy crudely rejected the apology. And Smith, being the competitor he is, doubled down on his comments, in which he called Jeudy a “JAG”, or “Just a guy”. AKA nothing special.
Steve Smith Sr. just DESTROYED #Broncos WR Jerry Jeudy during the TNF pregame show.— Zack Kelberman (@KelbermanNFL) October 12, 2023
"You're an average wide receiver who's mentally unable to handle constructive criticism from people."
On Tuesday, Jeudy explained the situation to the Denver media.
Jerry Jeudy spoke about the Steve Smith situation— DNVR Broncos (@DNVR_Broncos) October 19, 2023
“Where I’m from, when someone talks bad about you behind your back, don’t expect to come to them in person and think everything’s going to be okay.” pic.twitter.com/6t7IBbR1IP
Essentially, Jeudy said he would’ve accepted an apology from Smith, but when Smith tried to apologize, he didn’t accept it because he said what he said. Yeah...that’s a bit unclear. Perhaps Jeudy didn’t find it sincere, or perhaps Smith’s approach didn’t sit well with Jeudy, but regardless, it sounds like Jeudy just didn’t want to hear or see Smith and wasn’t ready to accept an apology. Despite what he says.
Jeudy had little room to boast to Smith (or anyone else) after the Chiefs game, as he finished with just three catches for 14 yards. He is currently averaging four catches for 44 yards per game in five contests this season, and his best performance, an 81-yard performance vs. the Miami Dolphins, was a bit inflated due to a long gain during garbage time vs. backups.
Yet. for Jeudy, it isn’t all his fault. And he’s clearly sick of holding his tongue on the matter.
“As a receiver, there’s a lot of people you’ve got to depend on,” Jeudy told the Denver Post on Tuesday. “You can be open, but if the line don’t do their thing or the quarterback don’t do his thing or the (offensive coordinator) don’t put you (in a good spot), it’s a whole lot of stuff that you’ve got to go through as a receiver to be successful. Ya’ll need to go watch the film instead of looking at the stats. Go watch the film and see what it is.”
Jerry Jeudy: “You could be open, but the line don’t do their thing, the quarterback didn’t do the job, the OC don’t put you in a — it’s a whole lot of stuff that we’ve gotta go through as a receiver to be successful. …”— Andrew Mason (@MaseDenver) October 19, 2023
Jeudy does have a point in that Russell Wilson has certainly struggled in recent games and was dreadful for most of last season. And sure, the offensive line has not made things easy this season, despite two high-priced free agent additions. Yet, going to the film may not do the justice Jeudy thinks it will do, as he has been seen struggling to get space all season.
Former Bronco great Mark Schlereth highlighted as much on his 104.3 show Schlereth and Evans on Tuesday.
“You’re not a professional,” Schlereth said of Jeudy. “And you don’t know what effort is. Your quarterback is under duress, you’re locked up — somebody locks you up in man coverage on an underneath route—and to call it trotting would be an insult to trotting. You just quit … Mike Shanahan would cut him tomorrow. I wouldn’t have him on my team.”
At this rate, it’s tough to see the Broncos and Jerry Jeudy extend their relationship past this month. The former first-round pick has extremely underwhelmed as a Bronco, even if it’s not all on his shoulders (multiple head coaches, QBs, etc.), and given the smoke in the offseason about Payton shopping him around, it seems pretty clear the team is fine moving on without him.
The question now remains, what kind of pick could the team get for him?
Injury Report: S Kareem Jackson improves to full participant ahead of matchup vs. Packers
Denver will announce its game statuses for Week 7 on Friday.
‘We can play cleaner and better’: Denver defense raises standard for Week 7 meeting with Packers
The Broncos’ defenders said situational execution and simplified play calls have been essential to improvement.
‘There’s a fine line here between a groove and a rut’: How the 2022 Lions could serve as a blueprint for the Broncos
“We’re kind of in that position where we’re bowing up — and we have to," Head Coach Sean Payton said.
From the archive: The best photos from the Broncos' Super Bowl XXXII win over the Packers
Look back through the Broncos' first Super Bowl victory with these photos from the Broncos' photo archive and the Associated Press.
Rob Gronkowski responds to Tom Brady's complaints about the NFL by making a very solid point - CBSSports.com
Gronk just called out his former teammate
Raiders' Jimmy Garoppolo out vs. Bears with back injury; starting QB for Week 7 still unknown - CBSSports.com
Garoppolo injured his back against the Patriots last week
Raiders' Davante Adams admits frustration with lack of involvement: 'I'm not here to just hang out' - CBSSports.com
Could Adams and the Raiders be headed toward a breakup?
2024 NFL Mock Draft: Chargers give Justin Herbert another weapon, Jets add protection for Aaron Rodgers - CBSSports.com
Three quarterbacks are taken in the first round, including Drake Maye to Denver