Two Broncos Pro Bowlers Tapped as 1st-Round Trade Pieces by CBS Sports

Two Broncos Pro Bowlers Tapped as 1st-Round Trade Pieces by CBS Sports

The 2024 NFL draft is less than a week away, and speculation on who the Denver Broncos will select at No. 12 overall is running rampant. Naturally, most of the conversation is centered on which quarterback Sean Payton and the Broncos are interested in.

Several mock drafts across the NFL media landscape have Denver selecting a signal-caller by either trading up, staying at 12, or moving down. It’s hard to see the Broncos trading up without relinquishing significant compensation — likely a combination of players in addition to multiple first-round picks.

However, what’s truly intriguing is the uncertainty surrounding the future of Pro Bowl cornerback Patrick Surtain ll and veteran wideout Courtland Sutton. Could both men be traded? CBS Sports writer Jeff Kerr seems to think so.

“The Broncos wouldn’t actually trade their best player, would they? Never put it past Sean Payton, as the organization is in the midst of a rebuild and doesn’t have a franchise quarterback following the Russell Wilson debacle. If the Broncos want to trade up into the top five from No. 12 — and get ahead of the Minnesota Vikings and New York Giants — Surtain may be the player who will allow them to accomplish the task. Would be hard for the Arizona Cardinals (No. 4 pick) or Los Angeles Chargers (No. 5) to pass up an opportunity to acquire Surtain if they have to trade down from their current draft position. Surtain has one year left on his rookie deal, with the fifth-year option certainly to be picked up. Any team that acquires Surtain will have him under team control for at least two years, giving them the ability to land a long-term extension,” Kerr wrote.

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There’s certainly a possibility that Payton loves one of the top quarterback prospects and moves the Rocky Mountains to trade up into the top four. The Vikings have two first-round picks, and the Giants don’t have far to move up as they own the No. 6 overall pick.

For the Broncos, outbidding either team would be a daunting task, especially since they don’t have many premium draft picks to work with. Surtain is the only valuable asset outside of draft picks that could facilitate a trade-up.

Surtain is undoubtedly the Broncos’ best player and the face of the defense, as evidenced by his All-Pro and Pro Bowl honors over the past two years. However, a cornerback isn’t as important as a quarterback. The prospect of trading Surtain doesn’t diminish his contributions to the team but it does underscore the Broncos’ focus on finding a quarterback. 

“Another Broncos player with an uncertain future, Sutton wasn’t present for the voluntary portion of offseason workouts this week. Keep in mind the word ‘voluntary.’ Broncos general manager George Paton said Sutton ‘is in a good place,’ but that still leaves his future in question come draft night. The Broncos are looking for a quarterback, and Sutton is a good trade chip. He has a $17.4 million cap hit for 2024 and a $17.8 million cap hit for 2025, a contract worth acquiring for a team looking for a receiver. Doesn’t hurt that the Broncos could dump off contracts in the midst of a rebuild, making Sutton expendable. Sutton is one of the better players on the Broncos, but Denver’s focus on finding a quarterback clouds things a bit,” Kerr wrote.

Sutton had a great 2023 season, with 772 yards and 10 touchdowns. However, the yards could have been better, mainly because Wilson was wildly inconsistent for the Broncos. Sutton, a 2019 Pro Bowler, is 29 and has only $2M guaranteed on his contract, so his lack of long-term security leaves his future in Denver uncertain.

Sutton could be an exciting trade piece, but he’s coming off ankle surgery, and being on the older side for a wideout, he may not get much in return. Both Surtain and Sutton have uncertain futures in Denver, and the Broncos could explore moving either of them.

Sutton is a solid wideout but has grown a bit long in the tooth, while Surtain has been the face of the defense for the past few seasons. Trading Sutton is the more likely option, but if Payton falls in love with a quarterback at the top of the draft, he might view Surtain as expendable.

All questions will be answered in less than a week, as the NFL draft kicks off on Thursday, April 25.

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