The Denver Broncos wide receiver room is about to have a shakeup, and Michael Thomas or Marquise Brown could join the group.

Why the need to make changes at wideout?

The Broncos are $24 million over the 2024 salary cap, and three of their top cap hits are in the wide receiver room.

Denver will likely move on from at least one of their top-3 WRs

While the Broncos are a good deal over the cap for 2024, there are some relatively easy ways to get under the $242M number.

One is cutting Russell Wilson, and when he signs with a new team, his salary with them will offset some of Denver’s share. They also could cut Garret Bolles, Courtland Sutton, and Tim Patrick, and ask others to restructure.

Oh, and the Broncos may look to trade Jerry Jeudy, after picking up his 5th-year option following the 2023 NFL Draft.

Here’s a look at Denver’s top-10 salaries:

  1. Russell Wilson, $35.4M
  2. Garret Bolles, $20M
  3. Zach Allen, $19M
  4. Mike McGlinchey, $18.5M
  5. Justin Simmons, $18.25M
  6. Courtland Sutton, $17.325M
  7. Tim Patrick, $16.07M
  8. Ben Powers, $15.25M
  9. D.J. Jones, $12.98M
  10. Jerry Jeudy, $12.98M

Clearly, the Broncos have a lot of money in their receivers. Cutting Sutton would save them $9.7M, and Patrick would save $10M toward the cap. However, Sutton just enjoyed a career year, so it seems unlikely the team jettisons him. On the flip side, Patrick has suffered back-to-back season-ending injuries in training camp. He seems like the more likely option if Denver does cut a receiver.

According to Adam Schefter, the Broncos turned down a 3rd and 5th-round pick for Jeudy last November at the trade deadline. That seems like a decent haul, but maybe Denver wants even more and thinks they can get it closer to the Draft.

Jeudy had a solid year in 2023, with 758 yards and 2 touchdowns, but it was a drop-off from his career year in 2022. And he’s never really lived up to the hype and first-round pick Denver used on him in 2020.

Michael Thomas and Marquise Brown could fit with Broncos

With free agency rapidly approaching, and teams looking to upgrade, Pro Football Focus looked at the top wide receivers who will have new homes.

Two of the names that fit with the Broncos were Michael Thomas and Marquise Brown.

Thomas is a no-brainer because he played in New Orleans with the Saints and Broncos head coach Sean Payton.

“A reunion with Sean Payton is the obvious link for our Denver call here, but Denver’s offense simply needs a possession receiver that can win on slants over the middle and out routes to the sidelines,” PFF explained.

It’s true; the Broncos need someone who can win balls int he middle of the field, which is a staple of Payton’s offense. He’s 6’3″, has good hands, and knows exactly what Payton’s looking to do.

The downside is, after being named AP Offensive Player of the Year in 2019, Thomas has been injured every year since. In fact, he’s only played in 20 games over the last four years. Although, 10 of them came last season, until he injured a knee in Week 10 and was played on Injured Reserve.

Spotrac places a market value of $9.2 million on Thomas, so considering the low number, he could be worth bringing in.

On the flip side is Marquise Brown, who’s four years younger than Thomas.

He’s also the smaller, quicker type receiver who would compliment Sutton’s big body and 50-50 ball abilities. Brown enjoyed his best season with the Ravens in 2021, with 1,008 yards and six receiving touchdowns. Since then, he’s been so-so with Arizona.

He caught 51 passes for 574 yards and 4 touchdowns last year with the Cardinals and their three different starting quarterbacks.

From PFF:

“Denver has the big-bodied jump ball receiver in Courtland Sutton and the shifty slot in Jerry Jeudy, at least for now, plus a rookie speedster in Marvin Mims, who was used sparingly but effectively. Brown adds a proven separator with the ability to break off routes at the intermediate and deep levels efficiently to create separation, and he would have the yards-after-catch ability the Broncos could stand to add.”

Brown’s market value is higher than Thomas’ at $14.2M per Spotrac. So, it’d be interesting to see if the Broncos would basically swap out Jeudy’s cap hit for Brown’s, if Denver traded Jeudy away.