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Sean Keeler: Broncos should call Courtland Sutton's holdout bluff, then trade him

Sean Keeler, The Denver Post on

Published in Football

DENVER — How much does Courtland Sutton miss Jerry Jeudy? Big No. 14 started Day 1 of minicamp by dropping the first ball thrown his way. He ended it by lobbying for a raise.

“I’ve come to understand what this business that we’re in is,” the Broncos’ pleasant-but-still-sort-of-disgruntled wide receiver said Tuesday following a two-week holdout. “They’re always going to say this is business, not personal. And so we’ve got to move forward.”

If I were in charge of Sutton’s business going forward, I’d tell him he’s got one good ankle to work with.

And absolutely zero legs to stand on.

I’d tell him that threatening to skip training camp was a curious, if honest, look. I’d tell him that actually holding out in July and August over a few million bucks would be a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad idea.

“This was definitely something that was considered,” Sutton said. “I wasn’t a fan, but obviously I’m here, so that’s the biggest thing.”

I’d tell him he’s writing checks that Sean Payton has no interest in cashing. I’d tell him he’s pushing his luck. I’d tell him that the Broncos are holding all the leverage here, my friend. They stank with you. They can stink without you.

“I want to make sure that it was known that yeah, I was upset about how the contract (talks) went,” Sutton stressed, “about how the conversation went, about how it’s still … has persisted.”

I’d tell him to bury the hatchet. Pronto. I’d tell him a couple million bucks ain’t worth it.

I’d tell him rookie wideout Devaughn Vele looked like a younger Tim Patrick out there on Tuesday. And that, heck, even Tim Patrick looks like a younger Tim Patrick.

I’d tell him being ready to play on Week 1 in Seattle is a wiser path than moping for a month. I’d tell him he needs to showcase himself. Right here. Right now. The best way to do that is actually playing your tail off, at game speed, against the best in the biz.

I’d tell him teams are going to ask questions about that bum ankle. And the best way to answer them is not by sitting out — but by actually playing your tail off, at game speed, against the best in the biz.

 

“And talking to the team,” Sutton said of his rehab in Florida, “we’re on the same page of me being able to stay down there and continue to get my ankle to where I needed to get to so that I was going to be able to be ready for the season.”

I’d tell him that being present, being here, is the smartest way to make his case to Payton, who’s not easily impressed. Or to the team that Payton could potentially be looking to trade him to. The Steelers sure make a lot of sense, on paper, if you can make the numbers work. Russell Wilson to throw him the ball. Zach Azzanni, Sutton’s position coach with the Broncos from 2018 to ’22, has the same job with Pittsburgh now.

I’d tell him that the fastest way out of Denver, if that’s the end game, is to spend as much quality time with the Broncos as conceivably possible.

“I hope that I am a part of this, (in) the bigger picture,” Sutton said. “I’ve been told that’s what the game plan is. I’ve also been told some other things. So we’ll see what happens.”

I’d tell him he’s a lucky son of a gun. Over the last six seasons, Sutton’s posted exactly one season with more than 70 catches (2019), one of more than 1,000 receiving yards (2019, again) and one with more than six touchdown receptions (10 last season).

And yet, per Spotrac.com, our pal Court makes more in guaranteed money ($34.9 million) than Ja’Marr Chase ($30.8 million) and Stefon Diggs ($22.01 million). His contract average of $15.2 million is higher than DeAndre Hopkins ($13 million), Chase again ($7.7 million) and Garrett Wilson ($5.1 million).

Don’t let anyone who tells you Sutton is a “bargain” buy your groceries, my friend.

“We’ll see what happens,” the Broncos wideout said. “We’ve got a month to be able to get things situated.”

I’d tell him the answer to the question on his X (formerly Twitter) bio — “What’s next?” — is right in front of his face.

What’s next is showing up and sucking it up. Payton holds all the cards, my friend. If you want a new deal, holding out isn’t going to convince any front office you’re right in the ankle. Or between the ears.


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