After weeks of speculation that former 15th overall pick Jerry Jeudy would be traded prior or during the 2023 NFL Draft, Denver Broncos general manager put a lid on it for good.
This comes just shy of a month after coach Sean Payton played off the rumors as just that, rumors, and he had no intention of moving his projected top wide receiver. He did, however, reveal that the team had received calls about both Jeudy and fellow wide receiver Courtland Sutton, although it never got further than that.
Now, if Paton’s statement in a pre-draft press conference held on Thursday are any indication, the team may no longer even entertain picking up the phone.
“I think I spoke at the owner’s meetings, we’re high — really high — on Jerry,” Paton said. “We don’t anticipate doing anything with Jerry. Jerry finished strong, the last five games over 500 yards. He was one of the top receivers in the league. We like Jerry. He’s going to be here.”
So there it is: Jerry Jeudy will once again be donning the orange and blue in 2023. After that, however, is anyone’s guess, as Paton stopped short of committing to anything beyond this season.
The Broncos will have the option to exercise his fifth year option, in which he would be guaranteed roughly $13 million, or they could work out a new deal should the situation call for it, but for either of those two scenarios to happen, he’s going to need to deliver more than he has in his professional career to date.
Despite pulling in 145 catches for 2,478 yards and 24 touchdowns his final two seasons at Alabama, his production at the professional level is at best inconsistent and at worst lacking in terms of what is expected a former top-15 pick.
His career started out with a severe case of the drops with him reeling in just 52 of 113 targets his rookie season, although one can’t absolve Drew Lock or Teddy Bridgewater of wrongdoing there as well, and then after an injury-riddled sophomore campaign where he only had 38 catches, the bust label was beginning to creep up on him.
His trajectory was expected to change for the good when the team acquired QB Russell Wilson from the Seattle Seahawks, but for a while, both lack of consistent production and another injury scare created more doubters than believers. Like Lock before, though, Wilson certainly earned his share of fault with regards to Jeudy’s production or lack thereof.
Through the last five games, however, he would tally 33 catches for 458 yards. That counts for 49% of receptions and 47% of yards received on the 17-game season. He also showed he can show up against the league’s best, evidenced by a three-touchdown performance in a close loss to the would-be Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs.
Was this five game stretch Jeudy finally realizing his potential after getting out from under the shadow of poor QB play and Nathaniel Hackett? Or is this just a guy who was able to get garbage stats at the end of a historically bad year when most teams may not have had the competitive willingness against the Broncos they’d have against other teams?
Payton is no stranger to coaching 1,000 yard, big time receivers, and he has already stated his confidence in resurrecting the abilities of Wilson and the offense. So this is a big season for Jeudy.
He has the ability to capitalize on those last five games and have a year that lands him a major future contract, or he can sizzle and try and start fresh with a new uniform.
It’s put up or shut up time for #10.
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