ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — On the final day of January earlier this year, the Denver Broncos’ passing game got a major boost when the team agreed to hire and trade for Sean Payton.

Arguably no coach has had more success through the air in NFL history than Payton.

For the 6-foot-4, 216 pound Courtland Sutton, this meant potentially taking on the Michael Thomas role in Payton’s offense. At 6-foot-3, 212 pounds, a similarly built Thomas racked up a whopping 5,512 receiving yards, 602 catches and 32 touchdowns in the four years he was healthy under Payton in New Orleans.

After Payton became Denver’s head coach, Sutton could begin imagining similar stats for himself in a Payton-led offense.

Instead, shortly after Payton joined the Broncos, months of trade talk swirled around Sutton, Jerry Jeudy and the Broncos’ receiver room.

In early March, Sutton appeared to tweet about the various rumors, saying, “I just want to be where I’m wanted and appreciated.” That tweet appears to have since been deleted.

That, however, didn’t stop the trade rumors. But, of course, a trade never matriculated. According to reports, the Ravens did get close to making a deal, but it fell apart at the very end. Baltimore then signed Odell Beckham Jr.

On Thursday, for the first time this offseason, Sutton talked to the media, and had a much different approach then he had on Twitter months ago.

It’s flattering that other teams see me as a guy that can come in and be a guy for them,” Sutton said, when asked about the trade rumors in the offseason.

The former second-round pick added he “of course” feels like he’s in a good place now.

“I love that I’m here,” Sutton stated. “This is ultimately, you guys know, where I want to be at. This is home.”

Sutton’s career got off to a near-ideal start. After a promising rookie season, in which he topped 700 receiving yards, Sutton exploded his second year in the league, racking up 1,112 receiving yards and a trip to the Pro Bowl.

The next year, however, he tore his ACL in his only game of the season. Since, he’s been unable to return to his Pro Bowl form as the Broncos’ offense has been stuck in the mud. Additionally, despite being in the NFL for five years, he’s never experienced a winning season.

“Being able to come here and continue to build the things that we’re aspiring to get to,” Sutton said, talking about wanting to be in Denver. “Coach Payton coming in and bringing the coaches that he’s brought in, bringing the guys that he’s brought in. Everybody’s bought in and ready to take this thing to the next level.”

The next level for the Broncos would be a winning season. The next level for Sutton would be to regain his 2019 Pro Bowl form.

Despite an offseason of trade speculation, Sutton remains in Denver. Just where he wants to be.


Zac Stevens was born and raised in Denver, went to the University of Denver and now covers the Denver Broncos. After graduating Summa Cum Laude from DU in 2014, Zac worked for the Cleveland Browns as a remote scout. He then jumped straight into the journalism industry at the beginning of 2016 covering the reigning world-champion Broncos and joined DNVR soon after. Catch him on Twitter @ZacStevensDNVR and daily on the DNVR Broncos podcast as the co-host.