Broncos receiver Demaryius Thomas is set to hit unrestricted free agency at season’s end, but he indicated yesterday that he was willing to take something of a hometown discount in order to remain in Denver. As Thomas spoke with reporters today, including Jeff Legwold of ESPN.com, he indicated once more that he would prefer to stay with the Broncos. “I think it’s just respect to this town, even to the team,” said Thomas. “…Of course I’d like to keep playing with Peyton [Manning].”
In observing his free agency prospects, Thomas will be forced to quantify the importance of Manning, and estimate how much longer he will be catching passes from the future Hall of Famer. Ideally (for Thomas), Manning will continue playing for several more seasons — the quarterback’s contract runs through 2016, at which point he will be 40 years old. If the Broncos sign Thomas to a five-year deal, for example, he’ll be forced to trust that the club will continue to succeed during the later years of such an extension, when Manning will likely be gone. Denver selected current backup Brock Osweiler in the second round of the 2012 draft, but it’s unclear if he is the team’s answer as the long-term replacement for Manning. Thomas, therefore, would likely want to be assured that a post-Manning plan is in place.
Thomas did not entirely rule out the possibility of joining a new team, and referenced his former teammate Eric Decker‘s decision to sign with the Jets earlier this year. “He seemed happy to me, and I think that’s all that really matters when it comes to a guy making a decision he makes,” Thomas said. “…If I’m here I’ll be happy, if I have to go somewhere else then we can stop and talk about later.”
Though we heard in July that the Broncos had offered an extension to Thomas, reports in October suggested the club didn’t expect to sign him in-season. Of course, Denver will have several high-profile players enter free agency this offseason, including tight end Julius Thomas, whom many expect to be franchise-tagged, and cornerback Chris Harris.