Demaryius Thomas

Broncos Notes: Joseph, Thomas, Elway

His new team dealing perhaps the final blow to his previous employer’s 2018 playoff hopes via 19-17 win in Week 9, Texans wide receiver Demaryius Thomas expressed issues he had with the Broncos’ coaching staff. Thomas said during an interview with former Broncos Ray Crockett and Rod Smith on Orange and Blue 760 (via The Athletic’s Nicki Jhabvala, on Twitter) Vance Joseph informed him he would be staying in Denver after the trade deadline. Though, to be fair to the second-year head coach, he may not have known the status of John Elway‘s progress in acquiring a mid-round pick for the veteran wideout. Thomas said his agent told him Elway wanted a fifth-round pick in a trade, helping perhaps to explain the GM’s decision to accept a Texans fourth-round pick.

Additionally, Thomas told Crockett and Smith the coaching staff made him feel as though he was holding back rookies Courtland Sutton and DaeSean Hamilton and that first-year receivers coach Zach Azzani asked only Thomas to come out of a Jets loss to give Hamilton more snaps (Twitter links via Jhabvala). Joseph said (via Mike Klis of 9News) he didn’t recall a trade-related conversation with Thomas unfolding the way the since-jettisoned wideout said it did.

Here’s more from Denver:

  • As for Joseph’s job security, Elway offered a lukewarm endorsement. “At this point in time, we’re going to stay the course,” Elway said during an Orange and Blue 760 interview (via Arnie Stapleton of the Associated Press). “I think there’s enough good things that are going on as far as us and the way that we’re playing. I’m much more encouraged this year than I was last year.” The Broncos have lost four one-score games — all to teams with at least six wins — but are 3-6 and may be on the verge of their first back-to-back losing seasons since the mid-1970s. It’s hard to imagine Joseph (8-17 as a head coach) receiving a third year.
  • A possible route Elway might go in 2019, look no further than the success the Chiefs are having. Buzz is developing in NFL circles (via SI.com’s Albert Breer) that Elway has taken a “special interest” in the college-type concepts that have helped not just the Chiefs but other teams around the league. Should Elway hire another coach in January, it will be his fourth since taking a front office job with his former team. He interviewed Joseph, Kyle Shanahan and Chiefs ST coordinator Dave Toub for the job Joseph received.
  • Wide receiver Jordan Taylor won’t play for the Broncos this season, Jhabvala tweets. He will stay on the PUP list the rest of the way. Taylor’s 21-day practice window expired on Monday.
  • Matt Paradis underwent surgery to repair a broken right fibula, Klis notes. The veteran center will be a free agent in March, but Klis adds the Broncos are interested in bringing him back. The sides discussed an extension before the season but did not come to terms. Prior to the injury Sunday, Paradis had started every game for the Broncos since the start of their 2015 Super Bowl season.

Deadline Notes: DT, Fowler, Collins, Bell

There were five trades made on deadline day, but none of them involved Giants safety Landon Collins. Appearing on ESPN’s The Michael Kay Show, the 24-year-old said New York was “asking a little bit too much,” leading to suitors shying away from a deal.

Ralph Vacchiano of SNY writes that the Giants were ultimately seeking a 2019 second-rounder and a late-round pick in 2020, but no team offered more than a third. The Chiefs and Buccaneers were among the teams to have made bids for the defensive back.

Considering all of the rumors surrounding the Giants, Collins admitted that he was a bit on edge up until the deadline.

“Yeah I was very anxious honestly,” Collins said (via Vacchiano). “I heard multiple teams offered a lot. It’s crazy. My agent called me and I looked at my phone and thought ‘Oh God.’”

Below are some more deadline notes from around the NFL…

  • Before the Broncos traded wideout Demaryius Thomas to the Texans, both the Patriots and Eagles made competitive offers for the veteran, reports Mike Klis 9News in Denver (via Twitter). The Titans also made a late bid for the receiver. Denver ultimately sent Thomas and a seventh-round pick to Houston for a fourth-round pick and a seventh-round pick. New England had previously been connected to the 30-year-old. Philly ended up making a trade with the Lions for wideout Golden Tate, another wideout the Patriots were eyeing.
  • The 2019 third-round pick sent to the Jaguars in the Dante Fowler trade is conditional, tweets Howard Balzer. NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero tweets that the conditional draft pick will be based on how many compensatory picks the Rams receive. If Los Angeles does receive a compensatory pick, that will be sent to Jacksonville. If the Rams receive more than one compensatory pick, the Jaguars will receive the higher selection. If the Rams don’t get any compensatory picks, then they’ll simply send their own pick to complete the trade. Albert Breer of TheMMQB.com tweets that Los Angeles is expecting compensatory picks for the offseason losses of Trumaine Johnson and Sammy Watkins. Jacksonville also received a 2020 fifth-rounder in the Fowler deal.
  • As ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler points out (via Twitter), the Steelers unwillingness to trade Le’Veon Bell means the running back will now have two weeks to report to the team. If the Pro Bowler fails to show up by November 13th, he won’t be allowed to play this season. Fowler notes that Bell is still intending on playing this season, but he still hasn’t informed the Steelers of his plans.
  • The Ravens traditionally don’t trade draft picks for players, especially during the season. As Jeff Zrebiec of The Athletic writes, prior to today, the team had only made one significant pre-deadline deal (for left tackle Eugene Monroe in 2013). However, today’s trade for Ty Montgomery followed general manager Ozzie Newsome‘s “right player, right price” attitude. Baltimore ended up sending the Packers a seventh-rounder for a versatile offensive weapon who had more than 800 all-purpose yards only two seasons ago. While the 25-year-old may not be as flashy of a name as LeSean McCoy or Jordan Howard, Zrebiec believes the Ravens gave up minor draft capital for a player who could end up helping them down the stretch.

Broncos Trade Demaryius Thomas To Texans

The Broncos have agreed to trade Demaryius Thomas to the Texans, sources tell Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter). The deal will send Thomas and a seventh-round pick to Houston for a fourth-round pick and a seventh-round pick, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets. The trade paves the way for Courtland Sutton to receive an uptick in targets and gives the Texans a veteran receiver for the final stretch of the season. 

Thomas’ name has been all over Pro Football Rumors for weeks and he wound up being involved in the first major trade of deadline day. Thomas, 31 in December, entered the league as a first-round pick of the Broncos in 2010 and was in his ninth season with the club. Along the way, Thomas racked up four Pro Bowl nods and a Super Bowl ring after the 2015 season.

When Thomas was at his best, he was among the most feared wide receivers in the NFL. From 2012-2015, Thomas averaged 100 catches for 1447 yards and ten touchdowns. Thomas cleared 1,000 yards in 2016 and nearly hit four digits last year, but he has not looked the same in 2018.

Thomas supporters would argue that Case Keenum‘s woes are to blame for his drop off in production. Soon, we’ll find out whether Thomas can turn back the clock with Deshaun Watson under center.

I’ve been watching him for a long time, since he was at [Georgia Tech] and since he’s been in the NFL,” Texans head coach Bill O’Brien said when asked about Thomas (Twitter link via Ryan O’Halloran of the Denver Post). “Excellent athletic skills. Great hands. Really good route runner. Very smooth route runner. He’s a tough guy to defend.”

The Patriots were said to be considering Thomas this month and the Titans and Eagles were also linked to the veteran. Those clubs and other WR-needy teams may pivot elsewhere between now and the Tuesday afternoon deadline.

The Broncos’ return may not seem impressive at first glance, but they did manage to shed $4MM in cap space this season and $14MM next season. And, given Thomas’ age and perceived decline, there was no way they were getting more than a fourth-rounder for him.

Thomas’ first game with the Texans will come against the Broncos, in Denver.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Patriots Interested In Golden Tate

In addition to the Patriots’ Demaryius Thomas interest ahead of Tuesday’s trade deadline, the team is also “particularly interested” in Lions wideout Golden Tate, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets.

Tate’s in the final season of a five-year contract, and earlier Monday a report indicated a fourth-round pick may be sufficient to pry Tate from Detroit. Rapoport notes Thomas remains of interest to the Pats as well. The trade deadline is at 3pm Tuesday.

Around $3.7MM remains on Tate’s contract. The Patriots hold more than $5MM in cap space, additional room created by restructuring Jason McCourty‘s deal earlier this season.

The Lions, who beat the Patriots in September, aren’t necessarily surefire sellers. They’re 3-4 and one game out of an NFC wild card spot and still in the hunt for an NFC North title, although they certainly shouldn’t be considered the favorites in a stacked division. But with Marvin Jones and the emerging Kenny Golladay in the fold, it’s harder to see them keeping Tate beyond 2018. No substantial discussions about an extension between the Lions and Tate are known to have taken place.

Although, Tate said Monday talks have occurred, telling Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press he and the Lions are “closer” on an extension. Though, Tate has been one of the NFL’s most productive receivers during his Lions stay and would be a sought-after commodity on the market, perhaps commanding more than $12MM per year in free agency. He’s making less than $7MM per year on his Detroit deal. He does not expect to be traded.

I don’t think so,” Tate said (via Birkett), on whether or not he believes he’ll be dealt. “I feel like I’m a huge part of this organization and this offense especially, so hopefully that’s not the case. But again, I do understand it’s a business and if it happens then, you know, depends on where they send me.”

The interest New England has in these veteran wideouts stems from the unreliability of Josh Gordon, Michael Giardi of NFL.com notes (video link). Gordon’s already run into moderate trouble with his new team; the Pats are set to bench him to start Monday night’s game because of tardiness. The team isn’t sure what it will get from Gordon, per Giardi, which is why the Pats are giving hard looks to other available vets.

Tate spends much of his time in the slot for the Lions. The Patriots have Julian Edelman back but could surely make their offense work with Tate in the fold. Tate has 44 receptions for 517 yards and three touchdowns this season. The Lions and Pats have a natural pipeline, with Bob Quinn having worked with Bill Belichick in New England.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Patriots Interested In Acquiring WR, Have Discussed Demaryius Thomas

The Patriots are interested in acquiring a “bona fide, premium” receiver before Tuesday’s trade deadline, according to Jay Glazer of Fox Sports (Twitter link), and New England has at least discussed Broncos wideout Demaryius Thomas, reports Michael Girardi of NFL.com (Twitter link).

New England, of course, has already made one move for a pass-catcher earlier this year, picking up Josh Gordon and a seventh-round pick from the Browns in exchange for a fifth-rounder. But adding another receiver to a depth chart that already includes Gordon, Julian Edelman, Chris Hogan, Phillip Dorsett, and Cordarrelle Patterson could prove appealing for the Patriots as they head into the second half of the season.

As Girardi tweets, the Patriots aren’t necessarily focused on any one player or position as the trade deadline approaches, but Thomas is undoubtedly available for the right price. The Broncos have reportedly received interest in both Thomas and fellow wideout Emmanuel Sanders, but they’d prefer to move Thomas — and his contract — off their books. Thomas is signed through 2019, but the Patriots — or any club that acquired the veteran receiver — could cut him after 2018 with no dead money accelerating onto their cap.

For the rest of the 2018 campaign, Thomas would be relatively affordable, as he’s due roughly $4.5MM over the next nine weeks. The Patriots currently have ~$5.1MM in available cap space, per Over the Cap, meaning they’d just barley be able to fit Thomas onto their books without making any other moves. Thomas, 30, has posted 33 receptions on 49 targets, managing 372 yards and three touchdowns in the process.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Broncos’ Emmanuel Sanders Drawing Interest

Teams are calling on Broncos wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders, as Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com tweets. The Broncos would prefer to unload Demaryius Thomas‘ bloated contract, but Thomas wouldn’t net them much (or anything) in a trade that would effectively be a salary dump. 

This jibes with a previous report from Adam Schefter of ESPN.com, who hears that the Broncos are willing to part with Thomas, but not Sanders. The Broncos are understandably reluctant to part with Sanders, who is on pace for nearly 1,300 yards this season. Thomas, meanwhile, has just 372 yards through seven games, making him more than expendable.

Teams could be intrigued by the possibility of Thomas getting back to his old form, but his contract is a major barrier. The 31-year-old is signed through 2019 with cap numbers of $12MM and $17.53MM in the next two years. Even teams with ample cap room would be wary of that obligation and would be unwilling to sacrifice much in the way of draft capital for the aging receiver.

Teams are also reportedly interested in cornerbacks Bradley Roby and Chris Harris, but it’s unclear as to whether the Broncos are willing to part with either player.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Trade Rumors: Raiders, Cooper, Cowboys, Broncos

The trade deadline is just nine days away, and earlier this morning, we learned that the Saints and Eagles could be two of the most aggressive teams as they seek to bolster their rosters for a potential championship run. Here are a few more notes from the trade market:

  • Per Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network (video link), many Raiders players believe that head coach Jon Gruden is simply not happy with his collection of talent, and that there will be major roster turnover within the next several years. In fact, those players feel it will take up to two years for Gruden to assemble the type of roster he wants, and while rival GMs are not sure they can swing a deal with Oakland GM Reggie McKenzie alone, they believe they can make headway with Gruden. The Raiders are clearly in a state of upheaval right now, and the sense is that everyone on the team is available for the right price.
  • Raiders receiver Amari Cooper is clearly available via trade, and Rapoport says that the team has had the most significant discussions about Cooper with NFC East clubs, including the Cowboys. Adam Schefter of ESPN.com confirms that Dallas is doing its due diligence on Cooper, and Albert Breer of TheMMQB thinks there would be teams willing to part with a second-round choice for him, though it does not seem likely that Oakland will get the first-rounder it is reportedly seeking. Breer reports that the team wants a third-round pick in exchange for safety Karl Joseph.
  • In addition to Cooper, the Cowboys are monitoring Dolphins WR DeVante Parker and Bills WR Kelvin Benjamin, according to Dan Graziano of ESPN.com (via Twitter). The Eagles have also spoken to Miami about Parker, according to Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald (via Twitter).
  • Teams are very much interested in Broncos receivers Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders and corners Bradley Roby and Chris Harris, per Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports. Schefter writes that Denver is willing to part with Thomas, but not Sanders.
  • The Jaguars are not mulling a trade for a quarterback to challenge incumbent Blake Bortles, per Schefter. Despite another mediocre season from Bortles, the Jags “believe that the quarterback position is the least of their issues.”

Patriots Rumors: Trades, McCourty, Tobin

The free agency defection of Danny Amendola, the trade of Brandin Cooks, the releases of Kenny Britt and Jordan Matthews, and potentially the advancing age of a now-32-year-old Julian Edelman leave the Patriots somewhat vulnerable at wide receiver. Might the NFL’s most trade-happy team consider one to bolster perhaps Tom Brady‘s final receiving corps? Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk suggests (via NBC Sports Boston) one that would be quite the blockbuster, even if it could be a tad of a reach.

Describing “a weird sense coming out of Denver as it relates to Demaryius Thomas,” Florio posits a Thomas-to-the-Patriots trade. While prefacing this with the fact that said weird sense might not end up being meaningful regarding Thomas’ Broncos status, Florio points out Patriots OC Josh McDaniels drafted Thomas in 2010 and the Pats suddenly need receivers more than the Broncos appear to. That said, the 30-year-old wideout is one of the best players in Broncos history, and John Elway trading a key player to the Patriots may not be realistic. The Broncos have liked what they’ve seen from Courtland Sutton and fourth-rounder DaeSean Hamilton this preseason, and Denver cut the cord on Super Bowl starter T.J. Ward to save money after the 2017 preseason. But the Broncos picked up Thomas’ 2018 option — he’s attached to an $8.5MM base salary and $12MM cap number — and have struggled for years to develop receiving depth. Thomas is, however, due a non-guaranteed $14MM next season, the final year of his contract. So, he very well could be entering the last season of his Broncos tenure.

Here’s the latest out of New England:

  • The Broncos don’t have a clear pipeline to the Patriots, but the Bob Quinn-run Lions do. And Mike Reiss of ESPN.com suggests a possible Golden Tate-to-New England transaction between Belichick and one of his former lieutenants. Reiss posits a deal involving contract-year defensive tackle Malcom Brown and linebacker Elandon Roberts but estimates the Lions probably wouldn’t part with Tate, even though he’s in a contract year and no substantial extension discussions have occurred. Tate, 30, is set to earn $7MM in base salary this season.
  • While his twin brother’s been one of the NFL’s top safeties for a while, Jason McCourty‘s worked as a cornerback. However, the offseason trade acquisition began practicing at safety this week and lined up there in Friday night’s preseason game, Phil Perry of NBC Sports Boston notes. Bill Belichick said (via NESN.com) McCourty’s safety reps were about gauging possibilities rather than a permanent move. McCourty also saw time at corner Friday night. New England houses Devin McCourty, Duron Harmon and Patrick Chung at safety and less experience at corner after Malcolm Butler‘s departure, but it appears Belichick will determine his newer McCourty’s versatility.
  • Isaiah Wynn‘s injury creates a void for the Patriots at swing tackle for the time being, and 2018 UFA addition Matt Tobin saw time as Trent Brown‘s backup at left tackle. The former Eagles cog may find a way onto New England’s 53-man roster because of Wynn’s season-ending injury, per Perry. The Pats have LaAdrian Waddle as a swing tackle, but with Tobin having extensive guard experience, he might bring sufficient value as a bench option at multiple spots.

Thomas Eyeing Several More Seasons

Hip and neck troubles plagued Demaryius Thomas the past two seasons, enough so the Broncos’ top wide receiver contemplated near-future retirement — either after the 2018 season or the ’19 campaign, James Palmer of NFL.com reports. But a now-reinvigorated Thomas is looking at his career differently.

A new diet and a leaner physique has the 30-year-old wideout wanting to extend his career well into the 2020s, even though he acknowledges things change quickly.

Now I’m thinking, 15 or 16 (years),” Thomas told Palmer. “Like, for real, I’m going to be like Larry Fitzgerald. Maybe even more. It just depends, you know? I mean, s—, tomorrow I could finish my career off of one crazy injury. But yeah, my mindset has changed.”

Thomas dropped more than 10 pounds this offseason, being currently under 220, per Palmer. And he’s obviously not experiencing the kind of hip pain that bothered him in 2016 and ’17. Even entering this season on the heels of the aforementioned injury-restricted ones, Thomas has played in 107 straight games since the 2011 season.

For, like, the past two years, for real, it’s been my neck and my hip,” Thomas said, via Palmer. “It was just times I couldn’t compete my best. And you know, sometimes, I remember one game we were playing the Patriots, and the (then-Patriots) corner (Logan Ryan) called it out. He said, ‘You’re not yourself.’ And I was like, ‘Man, I’m doing whatever I can to try to get (coverage) attention.’ ”

Like, for real, with all the problems with my hip, especially with my hip, it was like, sometimes I couldn’t even stop.”

Palmer notes one of Thomas’ hip labrums is partially torn. It’s not known what medical treatments Thomas underwent (if any) to recover from these maladies in order to be ready for this season.

If Thomas wants to play well into his 30s, he may have to relocate. By virtue of the Broncos picking up Thomas’ $4MM option, the Georgia Tech product will play a fourth season on his five-year, $70MM deal. But Thomas’ 2019 contract year will feature a $17.53MM cap number — up $5MM from this season’s — and the Broncos shedding that salary will save them $14MM. Of course, Emmanuel Sanders‘ contract expires after the 2019 season as well, and he’s due nearly $13MM in 2019.

With the Broncos having drafted Courtland Sutton and DaeSean Hamilton this year, it seems a somewhat safe bet to assume at least one of their longtime starters will be elsewhere in 2019. Though, they might be hesitant to part ways with both Thomas and Sanders given their importance to the Denver passing game the past four seasons. The Broncos and Thomas believe both rookies will make an immediate impact, per Palmer, with Sutton in particular drawing rave reviews in camp. Denver, though, has failed repeatedly to identify auxiliary receiving talent over the past three years, with previous Day 2 draft choices Cody Latimer and Carlos Henderson not working out.

Although Thomas’ 1,000-yard streak stopped at five due to 2017’s 949-yard showing, he passed Shannon Sharpe in both career receiving yardage and touchdowns (as Broncos) last season. He’s second behind Rod Smith in both categories with the Broncos.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Broncos Exercise Demaryius Thomas’ Option

The Broncos have exercised Demaryius Thomas‘ $4MM option to trigger the final two years on his deal, according to Nicki Jhabvala of The Denver Post (on Twitter). This was the expected move, even though Thomas was once speculated to be a potential cap casualty.

Thomas has become one of the greatest wide receivers in franchise history and he’ll have a chance to build on his credentials in a ninth season in Denver. The former first-round pick has functioned as the Broncos’ No. 1 wide receiver since his second season, and John Elway said at the Combine that Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders — also a rumored cut for a franchise that had Kirk Cousins on its radar — would be back next season.

With Case Keenum now in the fold at a deal believed to be worth around $18MM per year, the Broncos have more breathing room regarding the salaries of their veteran wideouts than they would have had Cousins agreed to come to Denver. Thomas will count $12.3MM toward Denver’s 2018 cap.

Thomas and Sanders have been the Broncos’ starting tandem since 2014, and the duo has been vital for a franchise that’s had trouble identifying supporting-cast talent at receiver or from its tight ends. While the Broncos’ quarterback situation helped sink the 2017 team, Thomas still graded as Bleacher Report’s No. 6 outside receiver. His string of 1,000-yard seasons stopped at nine, but the former Georgia Tech talent still caught 83 passes for 949 yards and five touchdowns.

Despite experiencing injury trouble during his first two years, Thomas has become one of the most durable players at his job. He’s played in all 16 regular-season games for six straight years. He’s now entering his age-30 season.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.