Browns sweeping in on Broncos failed opportunity with Jerry Jeudy

Explaining and reviewing everything Denver did to mess up the future with their former first-round pick

Denver Broncos
Denver Broncos / Ryan Kang/GettyImages

Now that the trade for Jerry Jeudy is official and time has passed, it’s time to do a deep dive into what went wrong in Denver.

Social media has had its fair share of shots and bashing of the former first-round pick, but it’s time to tell the truth about what really happened.

While this is my piece on how Denver mistreated Jeudy, the information I will provide is factual, unlike the slander that has been on social media.

The Ins and Outs of how Denver ruined Jerry Jeudy

Jeudy concludes his four-year tenure at Mile High with 211 receptions, 3,053 receiving yards (14.5 AVG), and 11 touchdowns.

He leaves the Broncos with the following accomplishments:

  • 2nd most receptions (52) and receiving yards (856) in a single season by a Broncos rookie since Eddie Royal in 2008.
  • His 92-yard reception vs Las Vegas was the third-longest by a Broncos rookie and the sixth-longest passing play in franchise history
  • His 125 receiving yards against the Falcons represented the sixth most by a Broncos rookie in a single game.
  • Jeudy's three 100-yard receiving performances in a season are the most by a Bronco since wide receiver Tim Patrick in 2020.
  • Jeudy's 2,295 receiving yards are the 3rd most by a Broncos pass catcher in his first three professional seasons, joining Brandon Marshall (2,899) and Lionel Taylor (2,411).
  • The 3 TDs by Jeudy vs. KC marked the 17th time a Bronco has tallied at least three receiving TDs in a game. Demaryius Thomas was the last player to accomplish the feat in 2014 when he did it against the Miami Dolphins.
  • Jeudy is 1-of-8 Broncos wide receivers to earn Offensive Player of the Week
  • The 193 scrimmage yards recorded by Jeudy vs. LAC are the most by a Bronco in a single game since Emmanuel Sanders posted 205 total yards against Pittsburgh in 2015.
  • Jeudy is one of four wide receivers in team history to reach the 3,000-yard receiving milestone in his first 57 games with the team. He joined Demaryius Thomas (4,065), Brandon Marshall (3,613), and Courtland Sutton (3,112) as the only WRs to accomplish the feat.
  • The Broncos were 2-1 in 2023 when he led the team in receiving yards in the game and was responsible for 40% of the win total in 2022 when this was the case as well.
  • In his 4 years in Denver, Jeudy earned top-15 in separation each season, which includes being 6th in 2021, 3rd in 2022, and 8th in 2023.
  • Jeudy ranked 5th in the NFL in xYAC/R in 2023 (5.3) and 6th in the league in 2022 (5.2)

I would like to remind everyone that he did all of this with four different head coaches, five different play-callers, and six different quarterbacks.

Jeudy had five 100-yard receiving games in Denver, which included three separate quarterbacks throwing him the ball (Drew Lock, Russell Wilson, and Brett Rypien).

So, what does this say about his time in Denver? Fans look at it negatively because he could have done more. I say he did something with nothing.

Fans have shaped their opinion on Jeudy and won’t back off it. They remember his rookie season with all the drops and stay in that timeline.

The trolls and fans would rather listen to Steve Smith Sr., who is notoriously known for trash talking (DJ Moore clip, for example), than listen to other football players like Roddy White, Chris Harris Jr., Chad “Ochocinco” Johnson, Xavien Howard, multiple teammates, and other peers around the league.

The reason for that is that it is easier to understand and recognize drama than to understand the reality of the situation.

The Cleveland Browns seem to be embracing the former first-round pick more than the Denver Broncos did. They went out to trade for him while practically giving nothing up and immediately gave him a contract extension.

For the past two years, the Browns have shown more interest in Jeudy than the Broncos have, and he has not even played a snap for Cleveland yet. They were in the running to trade for him last year but didn’t pull the trigger.

So, it begs the question: Why didn’t Jeudy pan out in Denver despite being one of the league leaders in creating separation and constantly getting open?

It’s pretty simple.

The quarterbacks that have thrown him the ball include Lock, Wilson, Rypien, Jeff Driskel, Teddy Bridgewater, and Jarrett Stidham. They have all been below-average (average at best) to terrible in Denver, respectively. If Payton had kept Jeudy this season, there would be a seventh different quarterback throwing him the ball (eight if you include the famous Kendall Hinton game).

The verdict is still out on whether Deshaun Watson will pan out in Cleveland. If he does, Jeudy will thrive with Amari Cooper as the two best route runners in the league.

Kevin Stefanski will be the fifth head coach for Jeudy and could be the first to utilize him correctly. Payton did what he could with him in his one season there. He was getting open with him, too, but Payton couldn’t throw him the ball.

It wasn’t a coincidence that Payton benched Wilson after the New England Patriots loss with reports that the quarterback couldn’t get the ball to the wide-open playmakers.

Unfortunately, that has been the story of his time in Denver.

Well, then, why did Payton trade Jeudy if he is that talented and always open? Besides the information that was told to me, Payton had to do what was right for the organization, and that was to get more draft capital and free up cap space for the Wilson dead cap money.

The 3-year, $58 million with a $41 million guaranteed contract extension with Cleveland caught a lot of slack on social media, per usual. If Watson can play better than Lock, Driskel, Rypien, Bridgewater, Wilson, and Stidham, the Biletnikoff Award Winner from 2018 will finally produce the way he should.

I have already gone over the statistics on how Jeudy would play if he was given proper WR1 treatment. There is also data on how his numbers compare with Tee Higgins despite playing with Joe Burrow, while his sample size is with six different quarterbacks.

For reference, in each of their four seasons, Jeudy has played nine fewer games than Higgins while only having 631 more receiving yards than him. One of the receivers gets praised because he plays with Burrow and is about to get more than $20 million per year, while the other pass catcher gets the shorthand of the stick.

Social media can create such a false reality that everyone starts believing whatever is said, with no one being able to be open-minded and just listen to the reality of the situation.

It all goes to show how the Denver Broncos ruined a promising career for the first-round pick. From being in the same accolades as the great 88 and others who played receiver, the situation he was in was atrocious for four years.

Fans, trolls, and even writers now (a minority of them) can continue to feed into the drama that Smith Jr. created. You can listen to one former player talk smack for clicks, or you can choose to educate yourselves with the four players I mentioned above, plus more that have come to Jeudy’s defense.

Knowing social media, they would rather listen to one person spewing nonsense than a group of people who say otherwise.

Points out that having more than a handful of quarterbacks, play-callers, and four different head coaches can be tough on a player for four seasons.

Jeudy controlled only what he could have controlled in Denver. He continued to get wide open, rank among the top leaders in separation, and etch his name in franchise history with an abundance of accolades I listed above. He was included among some of the great players who have played for the great organization.

All in all, Denver provided a grade-A example of how to ruin a promising young career. From the misutilization of him within multiple offenses to Chris Manhertz and Lucas Krull getting the ball more than him, Denver wasted his talents for four years. The fan base was divided, not knowing what to believe.

Unfortunately, social media will continue to brainwash folks about what to believe in Jeudy. This would be especially true if a rookie receiver comes in and has immediate success while failing to realize that the situation now, compared to years prior, is much better under Payton.

I hope new wide receivers in Denver thrive. I hope the situation is a lot better for the playmakers to succeed because the last thing I want is for the receivers to go through what Jeudy went through, and I am confident because of that because of Payton.

Now, Jeudy goes to Cleveland to revitalize himself and his career. If he can play average quarterback, many fans will be baffled by how great he will be.

But until then, fans will continue to hate. And the reason why they will continue to hate?

It’s easier to understand drama and hate someone than to learn the reality of the situation.