Courtland Sutton shows up for minicamp but still wants a new contract after 10-touchdown season

Tue, Jun 11, 2024
NFL News (AP)

Courtland Sutton shows up for minicamp but still wants a new contract after 10-touchdown season

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) - As promised, Courtland Sutton made a cameo appearance at the Denver Broncos' mandatory minicamp Tuesday. Whether he'll be back for the start of training camp next month hinges on him getting a pay raise.

Coming off a career-best 10-touchdown season, Sutton wants a bump from his $13 million base salary in 2024, of which only $2 million in guaranteed, and the $13.5 million he's set to earn in 2025.

Sutton views those salaries as inadequate given his 2023 production and the recent explosion in salaries for wide receivers.

Sutton sat out all of the Broncos' offseason program leading up to the mandatory minicamp, which he said he considered skipping, as well, a move that would have cost him $101,716 in fines.

"The point had been made already," Sutton said. "I'm hoping that we're able to find a solution ... because this is where I want to be and I'm just hoping that it's mutual."

Coach Sean Payton hasn't said much about Sutton's situation except that he trusts things will work out.

Being back on the field with his teammates, even for the pre-practice stretching, was something "I enjoyed to the fullest," Sutton said.

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Sutton initially framed his absence from OTAs as having to do with the offseason surgery he had for an ankle he injured in last season's final game. He added that he had the Broncos' blessing to stay in Florida while rehabbing.

Sutton acknowledged his contract situation played a role in his skipping OTAs. He said the sides are "at a stalemate in a sense but I have confidence and faith that the right thing will be done."

Sutton, who's entering his seventh NFL season, demurred when asked if he'll report to training camp without a new contract.

"We'll see what happens. We've got a month for things to get situated," Sutton said. "Hopefully things get situated because you know ... this is where I want to be. This is home. This is where I want to hoist the Lombardi Trophy. This is the place where I want to be able to retire. This is the place where I want to be in the Broncos' Ring of Honor."

Sutton caught 59 passes for 772 yards last season, not that far off the numbers he put up in his previous two seasons. But he only had two TDs in each of those years and 14 overall in his career before catching 10 touchdown passes last season - all from quarterback Russell Wilson - which was the fourth-most in the NFL.

That marked his best productivity since 2019, when he caught 72 passes for 1,112 yards and six TDs and made his only career Pro Bowl berth. He blew out a knee in the 2020 opener and missed the remainder of that season.

"It was nice to be able to have 10 touchdowns, but I know there's more in there," Sutton said. "Russ and I had a really good connection but I'm looking forward to seeing what Russ does (in Pittsburgh) and I'm also looking forward to myself and seeing what new heights I'm able to get to with whoever ends up being the guy that they pick to be the starter."

Payton said he doesn't have a timeline for when he'll name his starting quarterback in training camp. Rookie Bo Nix, former Jets QB Zach Wilson and holdover journeyman Jarrett Stidham are in a three-way competition for the job.

Sutton confirmed he'll get some work in with the quarterbacks and other receivers when they gather on their own in July in the days leading up to the start of training camp.

Sutton expressed frustration on social media this spring when Wilson and veteran safety Justin Simmons were released and receiver Jerry Jeudy was traded to Cleveland, where he immediately signed a three-year, $52.5 million deal after putting up numbers similar to Sutton's since 2021.

Sutton struck a softer tone on those moves Tuesday.

"That's above my pay grade," he said. "I know that the guys upstairs who make those decisions, they have a rhyme and a reason for why they do it. It's not for us to understand - we'll probably will never understand. They're always going to say it's just business, it isn't personal. So, we've got to move accordingly."

Sutton only ran one route Tuesday before heading to a side field to work alongside other players coming back from injuries. He later returned to the main field to watch the remainder of practice, including the 11-on-11 drills.

"He's in good shape," Payton said, "but you don't want to just throw him in there and so we'll be smart about that."

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ARNIE MELENDREZ STAPLETON Arnie is an NFL writer based in Denver twitter mailto "
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