PHOENIX — Denver general manager George Paton and head coach Sean Payton each painted a picture of the 2023 season at the NFL’s spring ownership meetings here Monday that included wide receivers Jerry Jeudy and Courtland Sutton catching passes for the Broncos.
“We’re excited to have them on our football team, two young players in their prime,” Paton said, addressing rumors about one or both being traded this offseason. “I think Sean said it best: We’re not interested in trading them. When you’re in my position, you get a lot of calls and we’ve got calls on those players. We anticipate them being here and I can’t wait to see them in Sean’s offense with these coaches. Jerry (23) years old and the way he finished the season — last five games (was impressive).
“Courtland played 15 games, had close to 900 yards, so to see these two receivers with Tim Patrick, with the others we’ve added, we’re excited to see where it’s going.”
Payton cited what he considers to be a relatively weak draft class of receivers in addition to what’s generally considered a thin free agent crop of pass-catchers as contributing reasons to a high level of interest in the Broncos’ players.
“Obviously in the offseason, everyone wants to be on top of any type of transaction, I understand that,” Payton said. “And it’ll continue for sure as we get closer to the draft.”
So, business isn’t closed, but Denver’s planning on taking those players into the 2023 season.
“We’re not a team that’s going to be ‘This is the X, this is the Z and this is our sub-slot receiver,” Payton said. “That’s just not going to be us. If you’ve ever followed what we did in New Orleans, that was never us.”
Injury updates. Payton and Paton downplayed the severity of a minor knee procedure quarterback Russell Wilson had shortly after the 2022 season ended.
“No concern on our part,” Paton said. … “He’s going to be fine.”
The news is less optimistic on running back Javonte Williams, who is in the midst of recovering from a serious knee injury suffered Oct. 2 that included a torn ACL and other damage. Paton said a month ago at the NFL Combine that he thought Williams would be ready for the start of the season but was less definitive Monday.
“We’ll have to see,” the general manager said. “He’s got a long way to go, he’s made great strides, but we won’t know that for a while.”
Both also acknowledged that receiver KJ Hamler sustained an injury training on his own, which a source told The Post last week is a torn pectoral muscle that required surgery. Hamler is expected to miss 4-6 months rehabilitating, which could put the beginning of training camp and the start of the regular season in jeopardy.
Stidham “quietly” a priority. The Broncos moved quickly to sign Jarrett Stidham as their No. 2 quarterback when free agency opened and gave him up to $10 million over two years to get him away from Las Vegas. Payton on Monday said the Raiders had “a clear vision and intention” to try to keep him.
“His arrow is moving in a direction where he can become an NFL starter in our league,” Payton said. “The evaluation was pretty crystal clear for all of us. … Can (a No. 2) come in and play and start? Yes. I think you get that with Jarrett but I also think you get a player who’s still ascending. If you watch the 49ers game, that’s impressive against a good defense.
“He was a priority for us. Quietly. And fortunately, it worked out for us.”
Broncos wish Dre’Mont Jones well. Paton commended outgoing defensive lineman Dre’Mont Jones after the free agent signed a three-year deal with Seattle earlier this month.
“Dre’Mont was a really good player for us and we wish him all the best in Seattle. He was great not only on but off the field.”
Said Payton of trying to retain Jones: “In the end, it’s pretty difficult. It’s a week before prom and you’re trying to figure out if Sally Sue is going to go with you and if not, you have to have (a plan). This goes back and forth. I’m happy Dre’Mont found a great spot.”
Center plan. Payton said the team views fourth-year offensive lineman Lloyd Cushenberry as the final piece to a starting offensive line that currently projects to include left tackle Garett Bolles, left guard Ben Powers, right guard Quinn Meinerz and right tackle Mike McGlinchey.
“We feel like (Cushenberry)’s certainly going to benefit from these additions,” Payton said of adding McGlinchey and Powers in free agency. “We haven’t met any of these guys yet, but we see him as our starting center, yeah.”
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