WEDNESDAY: The Jaguars have officially signed Thomas, the team announced today in a press release.
TUESDAY: Thomas will make an average of $9.2MM over five years with the Jags, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (via Twitter). His contract includes $24MM in guaranteed money.
MONDAY: Thomas will be heading to the Jaguars, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link), who notes that the Broncos, Raiders, and Seahawks all made a “hard push” to sign the tight end. Multiple reports have indicated that Thomas will earn roughly $9MM per year.
SUNDAY: The Jaguars have the most cap space of any team in the league, and it appears that they’ll be spending some of it by adding a playmaker to their offense. Two sources tell Jason Cole of Bleacher Report (Twitter link) that a deal between Jacksonville and free agent tight end Julius Thomas is “just about done” — of course, no contract can become official until the new league year begins on Tuesday.
The 26-year-old Thomas was widely expected to leave Denver and test the free agent market, and once the Broncos placed the franchise tag on Demaryius Thomas, it seemed that the tight end’s time in the Mile High City was coming to a close. Julius Thomas, a 2011 draftee, broke out during his third season in Denver, emerging as a key target for Peyton Manning in 2013. His reception and yards totals both decreased last season as he dealt with injuries (ultimately missing six games), but he still finished with 12 touchdowns.
The No. 4 free agent on PFR’s Top 50 list, Thomas was also expected to draw interest from the Seahawks, but it looks like he’ll head to Jacksonville instead, where he’ll team with second-year quarterback Blake Bortles. The Jaguars, with nearly $70MM in cap space, are expected to be active during free agency, and could pursue upgrades at running back, receiver, offensive line, and pass-rusher.
The free agent tight end market, already somewhat barren, takes a hit with the loss of Thomas — with Charles Clay having been slapped with the transition tag by the Dolphins, and Niles Paul re-signing with Washington, Jordan Cameron is now the clear top TE available. Cameron now figures to command more dollars, and other options like Jermaine Gresham and Owen Daniels could draw more interest.
The Broncos, meanwhile, will need to replace Thomas at tight end. Daniels has been linked to Denver, as has free agent James Casey — both have a familiarity with new Broncos head coach Gary Kubiak’s scheme.