Has Jerry Jeudy earned the 5th-year option from the Denver Broncos?

Denver Broncos, Jerry Jeudy (Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images)
Denver Broncos, Jerry Jeudy (Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images) /

The deadline to exercise Jerry Jeudy’s 5th-year option is not for several months, but the Denver Broncos should be thinking long and hard about whether or not he has earned that pay bump. Since entering the league as the Denver Broncos’ first-round pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, fans have been clamoring to see Jerry Jeudy live up to the immense potential he showed in the Alabama Crimson Tide offense. Unfortunately, that just hasn’t been the case, and that’s putting it lightly.

While it is easy to explain certain aspects of Jerry Jeudy’s disappointing output through 2.25 seasons (holy Pat Shurmur play-calling), there are too many all-to-revealing items that should be causing Denver Broncos general manager George Paton grave concern when evaluating his upcoming 5th-year option. Jeudy has struggled with drops. He has struggled with inconsistent performances. And, most importantly, he has been surpassed by nearly all of his peers that were drafted in the first two rounds of the 2020 and 2021 NFL Drafts.

Should the Denver Broncos give Jerry Jeudy the 5th-year option?

To this point in his career, Jeudy has accumulated 1,453 yards on 97 receptions. He has been targeted 185 times in his short career, but he has only scored four touchdowns with only one of those coming after his rookie season. To round out his statistics is a whopping 15 drops and 3 fumbles. To put it bluntly, Jerry Jeudy has been a drive-killer so far in his career, and Sunday night vs San Francisco was no different.

Against the 49ers, Jeudy graded out with a 52.9 grade while hauling in just two of his six targets for a minuscule 17 yards. I’m not going to knock Jeudy for the deep ball he couldn’t haul in because that was just an amazing play by 49ers defensive back Jimmie Ward. However, in a game where Courtland Sutton put up great numbers and Russell Wilson was needing a second option to get this offense to halfway decent against a stout San Francisco defense, Jeudy couldn’t step up and be that guy.

This isn’t about just the one game though even if I admit that’s what sparked my thought about the 5th-year option and whether Jeudy deserved it. It’s the full picture of his career in Denver. I know he had to deal with a merry-go-round of below-average quarterbacks and Pat Shurmur’s horrendous play-calling that basically negated Jeudy from half of his offensive snaps, but what’s the excuse now? Even with the Denver Broncos offense struggling to score, they have been moving the ball relatively effectively. Outside of Jeudy’s big touchdown play against Seattle where he turned a catch into a 67-yard touchdown, he has only caught 6 of his other 15 targets for 63 yards.

Looking at his career makes this even worse when evaluating against guys like Justin Jefferson, Tee Higgins, Chase Claypool, CeeDee Lamb, Michael Pittman Jr, Ja’Marr Chase, Jaylen Waddle, DeVonta Smith, and Amon-Ra St Brown. Here is how Jeudy’s numbers compare (all normalized for games play) to the other 14 wide receivers taken in the first two rounds (plus Amon-Ra St. Brown) of the 2020 and 2021 NFL Draft:

  • Receptions (97) – 13th
  • Touchdowns (4) – 13th
  • Yards (1,453) – 11th
  • Catch % (52%) – 15th
  • Drop Rate 2022 – 11th
  • Drop Rate 2021 – 6th
  • Drop Rate 2020 – 15th

It’s worth noting that also included in that analysis were Henry Ruggs (who is now in jail) and Jalen Reagor (who got traded because he was so bad in Philadelphia).

Currently, Jerry Jeudy is earning $3.7 million a year. If George Paton were to keep Jeudy on his 5th-year option, he would be earning north of the $18.4 million that was the salary cap for this past year’s 5th-year option.

I would love to see Jerry Jeudy bust out and become the number two guy on what could be a high-powered Denver Bronco offense (although there is a long way to go on this), but time is running out. There are 14 regular season games remaining in year three, but with Justin Jefferson and Ja’Marr Chase quickly inserting themselves into the conversation for the top-5 wide receivers in the game already, I am not holding my breath for Jeudy to make this jump. To this point, there have been far more issues than opportunities with Jeudy’s game, and the numbers back that up.