If they were handing out prizes for the best-dressed player at Tuesday's media BBQ at UCHealth Training Center, Denver Broncos wide receiver Courtland Sutton would be the runaway winner. Not since Emmanuel Sanders have the Broncos had such a charismatic and engaging receiver with whom fans can relate.
On Tuesday, Broncos GM George Paton was vocal in prioritizing the importance of keeping Sutton (and fellow 2018 draft classmate Bradley Chubb) around beyond his rookie contract, which expires after this season. Sutton enters a contract year on the heels of an ACL tear — no small challenge.
“Those are two of our core guys. I've said it a number of times—we're going to keep our core guys. That's our goal," Paton said. "We're going draft and develop, and we're going to take care of our own. Right now, we're focused on camp and getting through camp. At the right time, we're going to try and get these guys done and they know that.”
Sutton shares Paton's sentiment for sticking around the Mile High City long-term but he's under no illusions that such a stay would come without him earning it out on the grid-iron.
“If I can be a Bronco for life that would be a thing that I would love to be able to do,” Sutton said. “However I do know that comes with consistent work. It’s not just going to be something that’s handed to me. I have to go out there and prove to not only myself, but to my teammates, to Paton, and the rest of the team, the rest of the guys upstairs that I deserve that.”
Sutton breezed into Broncos HQ sporting his trademark big smile and new threads — with an undeniable spring in his step. Having missed the bulk of last season with a serious knee injury, it was a damaging setback in his own ascending career trajectory, but one from which the Broncos No. 1 receiver feels he is now almost fully recovered.
“I feel very close to 100 percent. I think the last percent that I need is the football aspect, getting tackled” Sutton said on Tuesday. “We play a very physical sport. I’ve been working my butt off in rehab. I’m not too much worried about the routes, the non-contact things. I haven’t been tackled since September of last year, so that’s going to be the biggest thing that I’m looking forward to. I’m not discouraged about that process, just looking forward to it.”
Getting Sutton back on the field will undoubtedly help out whoever ends out winning the Broncos quarterback competition, but equally important will be what the wideout will bring to the locker room. At just 25 years old, Sutton is already a veteran figure who can provide invaluable guidance to the likes of second-year receivers Jerry Jeudy and KJ Hamler.
“I think it’s very important to have that presence in the locker room, it gives guys someone to look up to and someone to say this is a person that we can go to that understands what it takes, understands what is important in the moments,” Sutton said. “Especially when it gets [to] crunch time in the regular season and that final stretch pushing the playoffs.”
If the attire and attitude didn’t win Sutton more adoration from Broncos Country then his closing statements will. In order for him to continue calling Denver his NFL home, he'll have to prove he can return from that ACL injury and produce at a high level this fall.
Follow Keith on Twitter @KeithC_NFL.
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