Demaryius Thomas

Patriots Notes: Thomas, Michel, Gronk, Wynn

Demaryius Thomas is not a lock to make the Patriots’ 53-man roster and may well begin the season on the reserve/PUP list. The Patriots started that process Sunday by placing the Pro Bowl wide receiver on their active/PUP list, which applies to players not healthy enough to begin participating in training camp. The Pats used the same designation for Sony Michel, Field Yates of ESPN.com tweets. Michel will certainly be part of the 2019 Patriots and is recovering from offseason knee surgery. Thomas tore an Achilles in December, joining longtime receiver teammate Emmanuel Sanders in that regard. The latter, however, is further along in his recovery, having not started Broncos camp on the PUP list.

Here is the latest out of New England:

  • Patriots third-round pick Yodny Cajuste underwent quadriceps surgery before the draft and landed on the defending Super Bowl champions’ reserve/NFI list, Mike Reiss of ESPN.com tweets. As is the case with the active/PUP list, players can come off this list at any point during camp. Cajuste figures to mix in as a swing option for the Patriots as a rookie.
  • If Rob Gronkowski does follow through on a comeback, might the Patriots be wise to assure him blocking responsibilities will be limited? While the future Hall of Famer was a plus blocker for his position, Jim McBride of the Boston Globe suggests the Pats use Gronk as a hybrid-type player that does not have the same kind of in-line role he previously held. The 30-year-old icon has slimmed down this offseason, one that has reportedly not featured much in the way of strength work.
  • Deatrich Wise and Nate Ebner will join Thomas and Michel on the Pats’ active/PUP list, Reiss tweets. A third-year defensive end, Wise has not missed a game in two seasons.
  • Isaiah Wynn, however, will not appear on the Pats’ active/PUP list, Reiss adds (via Twitter). The 2018 first-round pick missed all of his rookie season due to a torn Achilles’ tendon. Suffering the injury before last season began, Wynn is expected to suit up when the Patriots convene for their 2019 camp and line up as New England’s starting left tackle.
  • The Pats do not appear to have an open spot at quarterback, with Reiss noting Brian Hoyer will stick as Tom Brady‘s top backup and rookie Jarrett Stidham is likely assured of a roster spot as the team’s latest developmental QB project. This puts 2018 seventh-round pick Danny Etling on the verge of again falling short of a spot on the team’s active roster. But he may have an outside shot as a Taysom Hill-like role, per Reiss. While the Purdue and LSU alum never rushed for more than 200 yards in a season in college, Reiss points to his 86-yard touchdown run during 2018 preseason play as a sign this outside-the-box notion could work. The Patriots probably aren’t too eager to take Brady off the field, however.

Demaryius Thomas Not A Lock For Patriots’ Roster, Could Start Season On PUP?

One of the Patriots’ biggest signings this offseason was receiver Demaryius Thomas. While Thomas is a big name, it doesn’t sound like he’s a lock to make a huge impact, or even the roster.

Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com writes that “speculation has lingered that Thomas could go the way of other older players who for whatever reason didn’t mesh with the Patriot Way.” Additionally, Ben Volin of the Boston Globe tweets that Thomas starting the season on the PUP list is a “realistic option.” If Thomas, who is still recovering from a torn Achilles he suffered toward the end of last season, did start the season on PUP, he would be forced to miss the first six games of the season.

If that’s the case, Volin writes he “could be a decent second-half addition for the offense.” But he’ll need to convince the Patriots he’s worthy of a roster spot first, and the injury isn’t the only hurdle he’s dealing with. Thomas is also facing potential league discipline after he was arrested and charged with vehicular assault following a car accident.

Thomas signed a one-year contract that could pay him up to $6MM if he reaches various incentives, but the Patriots could cut him without losing much. The base value of his contract is $1.2MM, and the only guaranteed money they gave him was a signing bonus of $150K. Thomas has a relationship with New England’s offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, who was his head coach in Denver, which should help his cause, but he still has a lot to prove.

Thomas entered the league as a first round pick of the Broncos back in 2010, and blossomed into one of the league’s best receivers with Peyton Manning. He made the Pro Bowl five straight times from 2012-16, but he isn’t the same physically anymore. He’s still crafty though and he remained pretty productive during his last full season, racking up 949 yards in 2017.

The Patriots were reportedly in on him at the trade deadline last year, which could be a good sign for his chances of making the roster since they tried to give up draft picks for him just last year. After being traded to the Texans at the deadline, Thomas played in just three games before going down with the Achilles injury. It’s unclear if he’s got much left in the tank, but he shouldn’t be counted out either.

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AFC East Notes: Pats, Kraft, Jets, Bills, Fins

Although prosecutors are planning to release video of Patriots owner Robert Kraft soliciting sexual acts at a Florida spa, Kraft and his legal team are attempting to stop the publication. Kraft filed a motion to block release of the video, and the judge overseeing the case has indicated the state may not disseminate the video until after a hearing occurs, as T.J. Quinn of ESPN tweets. The women who allegedly own the spa in question also filed a motion to stop the release, and a judge will hear their case on April 29, according to the Boston Globe, meaning the video won’t be issued until then at the earliest.

Here’s more from the AFC East:

  • Earlier today, we learned Demaryius Thomas‘ one-year deal with the Patriots contains a $150K signing bonus and a $1.2MM base salary, and now Albert Breer of TheMMQB.com (Twitter link) has provided more details on the veteran receiver’s pact. Thomas can collect a $150K reporting bonus and a total of $1.406MM in per-game roster bonuses. Additionally, Thomas can also earn $750K for reaching each of the following incentives: 60 catches, 800 yards, 1,000 yards, and 1,200 yards. Clearly, Thomas isn’t a lock to make New England’s roster, but he can bring in up to $6MM by posting an excellent campaign.
  • Alabama State offensive tackle Tytus Howard met with the Jets today, reports Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News (Twitter link). Daniel Jeremiah of NFL.com lauds Howard’s size (6’2′”, 322) and ability to “explode out of his stance,” but notes potential concerns about Howard’s level of competition in the FCS. Howard, who could be available for New York in either the second or third round, would be in contention to displace Jets tackles Kelvin Beachum and/or Brandon Shell, if not immediately than in the long-term.
  • In an engrossing profile, Bills executive Lake Dawson reveals to Tim Graham of The Athletic that he turned down the Dolphins‘ general manager job in 2014 following conversations with team owner Stephen Ross. “In terms of commitment,” Dawson said, “they weren’t going to give me the time, and they weren’t going to allow me to hire some of the people that I wanted to hire. The owner wanted a fast change.” Things have clearly changed in Miami, as the Dolphins are now embarking on a serious rebuild. Dawson, for his part, interviewed for the Panthers’ GM job earlier this year.

Patriots Notes: Thomas, Kraft, Brady

Demaryius Thomas‘ deal with the Patriots includes a $150K signing bonus and a modest base salary of $1.2MM, a source tells ESPN.com’s Field Yates (on Twitter). The wide receiver will have the chance to earn more through incentives/bonuses, however, bringing his cap number to $2.9MM. Reportedly, Thomas can earn all the way up to $6MM if he checks all the boxes.

The low guarantee and base pay of Thomas’ deal suggests that he’s not quite a lock to make the final roster. This makes sense given Thomas’ lack of serious production in recent years and the Patriots’ tendency to jockey playmakers in the late stages of the offseason.

For now, Thomas will focus on recovering from a torn Achilles suffered in December. The hope is that Thomas will be ready for training camp, but nothing is certain just yet.

Here’s more out of New England:

Patriots To Sign Demaryius Thomas

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 GronkowskiCordarrelle PattersonChris 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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Patriots Host Demaryius Thomas, T.J. Yeldon

The Patriots hosted wide receiver Demaryius Thomas and running back T.J. Yeldon on Wednesday, according to Field Yates of ESPN.com (Twitter link).

New England would make sense as a potential landing spot for Thomas on a number of levels. The 31-year-old pass-catcher was originally drafted by then-Broncos head coach Josh McDaniels, who is now the Patriots’ offensive coordinator. The Pats reportedly expressed interest in acquiring Thomas from Denver before he was dealt to Houston, and New England needs offensive help given the loss of Rob Gronkowski and Cordarrelle Patterson, the potential loss of free agent Chris Hogan, and the uncertain status of Josh Gordon.

While Thomas would give the Patriots another option on their wide receiver depth chart, 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).

Thomas tore his Achilles in December, and it’s not clear when he’ll be able to return to the field. Additionally, he was taken into police custody after being involved in a car accident in February. There’s been no new information on Thomas’ legal status recently, but each of these factors will likely make him an affordable potential signing for the Patriots.

Like Thomas, Yeldon hasn’t drawn any other known free agent interest since the market opened in mid-March. After starting for the Jaguars during his first two years in the NFL, Yeldon became a backup after Jacksonville drafted Leonard Fournette in 2017. Yeldon has averaged only four yards per carry since entering the league, but he’s been a consistent weapon in the passing game, averaging about 43 receptions per season. Football Outsiders ranked him among its top-20 most efficient pass-catching running backs in 2018.

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Free Agent Demaryius Thomas In Custody

Free agent wide receiver Demaryius Thomas is in custody for charges of vehicular assault in Colorado, according to Denver 7. The Texans free agent (and former Bronco) lost control of his vehicle on Feb. 16 and a female passenger in the car suffered serious injuries, police say. Fortunately, those injuries were not life-threatening, but vehicular assault is a felony-level charge in Colorado. 

At the time of the crash, investigators did not believe that alcohol or drugs were a factor in the accident. Thomas was said to have suffered minor injuries in the accident, but was fine otherwise.

In his ninth NFL season, Thomas reeled in just 36 catches for 402 yards and three touchdowns for the Broncos. Before the deadline, he was shipped to the Texans, where he had 23 receptions for 275 yards and two scores. In February, the four-time Pro Bowler was cut by Houston, making him a free agent.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Demaryius Thomas Involved In Car Crash

Free agent veteran receiver Demaryius Thomas was involved in a rollover crash in Denver early Saturday morning, ABC 7’s Oscar Contreras writes. He reportedly suffered minor injuries. 

Police responded to the single-vehicle accident shortly after midnight. Thomas and another man suffered minor injuries, but a woman inside the car sustained potentially serious injuries though they were not thought to be life threatening.

Police are investigating the crash, but investigators have said neither drugs nor alcohol appear to be involved in the accident.

That is a scary situation for the former Broncos wideout, but it’s great news he escaped the incident without any major injuries.

In his ninth season in the league, Thomas started the first eight games of the season for the Broncos, making 36 grabs for 402 yards and three touchdowns. He was acquired by the Texans at midseason and finished the campaign in Houston, logging 23 receptions for 275 yards and two touchdowns. Earlier this week, the four-time Pro Bowl selection was released from the team.

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South Notes: Flacco, Texans, Bucs, Panthers

In agreeing to trade for Joe Flacco, the Broncos made an early move to attempt to upgrade at quarterback. As bad as things have gone at quarterback for the Broncos over the past three years, the Jaguars have experienced more trouble. The Jags were mentioned as a Flacco suitor earlier this offseason, and Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports tweets the team continued to have interest until the Broncos pulled the trigger. However, Denver’s offer of a fourth-round pick was the best proposal Baltimore received, La Canfora adds. This was the Broncos’ fourth-round pick (No. 106), not the selection they acquired from the Texans in exchange for Demaryius Thomas (No. 118).

Shifting to non-Flacco matters, here is the latest from the South divisions:

  • Thomas’ Texans tenure did not last long, with the team predictably balking on the former Pro Bowl wide receiver’s lofty 2019 salary. But with the Texans making the move to release the 31-year-old wideout while he is still recovering from a severe Achilles injury, Thomas is in line to receive injury protection, Dan Graziano of ESPN.com tweets. Article 45 of the CBA stipulates Thomas would stand to receive $1.2MM from the Texans, reducing the franchise’s cap savings on this move from $14MM to $12.8MM. Nevertheless, Thomas’ salary coming off the Texans’ books increases their cap space to nearly $76MM.
  • Although Pro Football Focus had not viewed Donovan Smith as an upper-echelon tackle, the Buccaneersfront office has held him in higher regard. Even as the team shifts to Bruce Arians calling the shots on the sideline, keeping Smith off the market may still be on the table. Indications point to the Bucs placing the franchise tag on Smith if no deal can be reached before then, Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times tweets. The 2019 tag for offensive linemen is expected to come in at just more than $14MM. Were Smith to reach the market, he could command a lucrative deal. Although, with only three tackles making $14MM per year, it would be a stretch for the Bucs’ four-year left tackle starter to exceed that total — the annual offensive line sellers’ market notwithstanding.
  • Ben Jacobsearly-offseason release will not lead to the longtime special-teamer catching on elsewhere. The former Panthers linebacker will instead take a staff position with Carolina, the franchise announced. Jacobs is the Panthers’ new assistant special teams coach. Jacobs, 30, spent six years with the Panthers, serving as a core member of Carolina’s ST units for most of that time. He will work under fellow former Panthers linebacker Chase Blackburn.
  • The Panthers will be the latest team to bring in a game management coach. Sam Mills III, son of the former Panthers and Saints linebacker, will begin working in this role, the team announced. A 15th-year Panthers staffer, Mills will retain his defensive line coach title while helping Ron Rivera on game days with replay challenges, clock management and other situational elements.

Texans Release Demaryius Thomas

Demaryius Thomas‘s tenure with the Texans has come to an end, as the team announced it has released the veteran wideout. James Palmer of the NFL Network first reported (via Twitter) that the release was forthcoming, and ESPN NFL Insider Field Yates tweets that Thomas was released with a failed physical designation.

After spending eight-plus seasons with the Broncos, the 31-year-old was traded to the Texans (along with a seventh-rounder) for a fourth-rounder and seventh-rounder back in October. Thomas proceeded to play in seven games for Houston, hauling in 23 receptions for 275 yards and two touchdowns. However, he tore his Achilles in late December, ending his season.

As Palmer notes, the release isn’t an indication that the Texans think Thomas is done. The wideout tore his Achilles during the 2011 offseason, but he was fully healthy after only six months. It will naturally take the veteran a bit more time to recover this time around, but it doesn’t sound like this is the end of the road for the receiver (though Yates observes that Thomas does have a long recovery ahead of him).

Thomas was due $14MM next season, but thanks to an “out” in his contract, the Texans won’t be left with any dead cap. The team could theoretically look to re-sign Thomas at a smaller cap number, although the team is already pretty deep at the position. As of right now, the Texans will roll into next season with DeAndre Hopkins, Keke Coutee, and Will Fuller (who’s recovering from an ACL injury) atop their depth chart.

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