BRONCOS

Broncos need Courtland Sutton to wake up, because something is amiss

Nov 8, 2022, 6:00 AM
Courtland Sutton...
(Photo by AAron Ontiveroz/The Denver Post)
(Photo by AAron Ontiveroz/The Denver Post)

Paging Courtland Sutton.

Has anyone seen him? Because he’s been missing in action the Broncos’ last three games.

Denver’s “No. 1 wide receiver” hasn’t done anything of note for a month. He went for 14 yards against the Chargers, 23 yards against the Jets and a paltry 13 yards against the Jaguars. Something is amiss, because right now, Sutton isn’t putting up stats or passing the eye test.

The answer is one of two things. The first option would be extremely concerning and the second one would just be a huge bummer.

Option A is he’s checked out. It’s easy to watch the games and see Sutton’s effort is questionable on certain plays, particularly when he’s asked to block on a run or a screen pass. Sutton has just one touchdown in the 15 games he’s played since signing a contract extension worth a total of $61 million and nearly $35 million guaranteed. Maybe he got paid and became content.

Option B is that Sutton’s still hurt. He used to be so good at winning 50/50 footballs. He never had game-changing speed, but his big body and frame made him a really tough cover. However, that all changed during the 2020 season when he tore his ACL in September in Pittsburgh. That was 26 months ago, but Sutton still hasn’t returned to his form from before the injury.

If he’s he hurt, then that just stinks, but there’s not much that can be done. Maybe he needs another offseason of rehab and strength training. Or maybe he’ll never be the same football player again, and that would simply be terrible luck.

If the reality is, though, that Sutton got paid and simply doesn’t have the drive or energy to be great any longer, that would be hugely disappointing. First of all, it’s not fair to his teammates, general manager George Paton, who gave him the deal, and most importantly the fans. Just because Sutton put pen to paper on a life-altering contract that secured him generational money doesn’t mean the effort can slip. That’s grossly unfair to Broncos Country.

If that’s indeed what’s going on, someone needs to get through to him. Whether that be head coach Nathaniel Hackett, quarterback Russell Wilson, Paton, a teammate in the wide receiver room or a member of his family, someone needs to wake Sutton up. He’s too talented to be putting up stat lines like he has the last three weeks. Or frankly, since he got the new deal.

It might be time for a leader in Broncos HQ to have a tough talk with Sutton about what’s actually going on. As Jerry Jeudy appears to have potentially turned a corner, and K.J. Hamler made a huge play against the Jaguars, Sutton’s been simply ineffective and a non-factor. That must change for Denver to have any hope of salvaging this season or fixing a broken offense.

And it’s not just this year that is important. The deal is set to keep Sutton with the Broncos through 2025, although they could get out of it after the 2023 season with about $7.6 million in dead cap space. But that would be a shocker, because Wilson needs weapons to thrive. He can’t afford to be losing them. If the $245 million QB is ever going to hit his ceiling in Denver, Sutton, Jeudy, Hamler and the injured Tim Patrick must live up to their potential.

So, it’s time to figure out what’s actually going on with Sutton. Again, if it’s lingering knee problems, that likely can’t be fixed. At least not immediately. If it’s simply effort/desire, that can be addressed tomorrow. And it’s up to one of the top dogs with the franchise to have a real and probably uncomfortable conversation.

Right now, it’s hard to know which one it is. But it’s abundantly clear something is off. The sooner that gets figured out, the better. Because the Broncos need Sutton to be a big part of this offense.

If not, one of the worst units in the NFL may somehow get even more unwatchable.

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Broncos need Courtland Sutton to wake up, because something is amiss