The Patriots are signing longtime Broncos wide receiver Demaryius Thomas, according to Field Yates of ESPN.com (on Twitter). Offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels was the Broncos head coach when the team drafted Thomas in the first round in 2010, and there’s a belief in New England that Thomas can turn back the clock.
It’s a one-year deal worth up to $6MM, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. While this is obviously a steep pay cut from Thomas’ previous five-year, $70MM deal, the 31-year-old wideout will have a chance to rebound after a down season — one that ended with his Achilles tear.
The Pats reportedly expressed interest in acquiring Thomas from Denver before he was dealt to Houston last year. Months later, he arrives in New England at a time when they need offensive help following the loss of Rob Gronkowski, Cordarrelle Patterson, Chris Hogan, and the uncertain status of Josh Gordon.
Thomas gives the Patriots another option on their wide receiver depth chart, but he’s certainly not the threat he once was. While splitting time between Denver and Houston in 2018, Thomas posted only 59 receptions for 677 yards, his lowest totals since 2011 (before he was a full-time starter). It’s also worth noting that Thomas tore his Achilles in December and it’s not clear when he’ll be able to return to the field.
It is possible Thomas will be ready for training camp, with NFL.com’s James Palmer tweeting the veteran talent is expected to be back sooner than people anticipate.
Although Thomas was not as productive last season, he will be moving to a system in which he has some experience (albeit many years ago) and with one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time in Tom Brady. A younger Thomas thrived with Peyton Manning, making the Pro Bowl from 2012-14 and surpassing 1,300 yards during Manning’s less effective final season. Despite being the No. 1 target in Trevor Siemian– and Brock Osweiler-led offenses in 2016-17, Thomas still surpassed 900 yards in each. He made the Pro Bowl in 2016 as well.
It’s worth noting the Patriots ended up cutting ties with several veteran receivers before the start of last season — from Kenny Britt, to Jordan Matthews, to former Thomas wing man Eric Decker — so it cannot be considered a lock the 10th-year veteran will be with the 2019 Pats. But they are in greater need of aerial weaponry this offseason, and Thomas has been a better receiver than the players who were cut last year.
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