The Broncos and Demaryius Thomas now have just a matter of hours to work out a new long-term contract extension, with this afternoon’s deadline looming. And according to Mike Klis of 9News, Thomas is expected to skip training camp and the preseason if he doesn’t get a new deal from the team today.
Of course, with the deadline for a multiyear contract only hours away, both sides figure to use whatever leverage they have, so there’s a possibility that Thomas is bluffing. But it’s not uncommon for unsigned franchise players to miss a good chunk of training camp and the preseason. Since he has yet to sign his one-year franchise tender, the star wideout wouldn’t be subject to fines for his absence.
Considering Peyton Manning is a player known for his meticulous preparation, the Broncos quarterback likely won’t be thrilled about the possibility of being without his No. 1 receiver this August, particularly with a new head coach and offensive coordinator in place. So the threat of Thomas’ absence could push the Broncos a little harder to get something done with him today.
However, based on this week’s reports, Thomas appears to be seeking a long-term deal in the Calvin Johnson range — Megatron’s contract with the Lions averages more than $16.2MM per season, with $48.75MM in fully guaranteed money. According to Troy Renck of the Denver Post, the Broncos have made a “significant” long-term contract offer to Thomas, with agents speculating that the guaranteed money exceeds $40MM. It’s not clear if that entire amount would be fully guaranteed.
A compromise today is possible, but not particularly likely, according to Klis, Renck, and Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link). If the two sides can’t finalize an agreement by 3:00pm central time, Thomas will have to play on a one-year pact in 2015. That doesn’t mean he necessarily has to sign the franchise tender as is — he and the team could negotiate a slightly different salary, or include various clauses, such as the Broncos not having the ability to tag him again in 2016.
While Denver appears to have most of the leverage once today’s deadline passes, Thomas’ absence from the camp and preseason could seriously impact the development of the club’s new offense, which may put pressure on John Elway and the front office to make concessions in negotiations.