Although Demaryius Thomas did not play last season, the Pro Bowl wide receiver said during the 2020 offseason he did not intend to retire. The decorated pass catcher has changed his mind a year later.
Thomas announced Monday he will walk away after a 10-year career (video link). The former first-round pick played for the Broncos, Texans, and Jets — with a short stopover with the Patriots — from 2010-19. While the 33-year-old receiver donned four uniforms, he will be remembered primarily for his work in Denver.
Despite coming out of a run-heavy system at Georgia Tech, the 6-foot-3 wideout became one of the NFL’s top receivers in the 2010s. Thomas made four Pro Bowls while with the Broncos and operated as the team’s No. 1 receiver throughout Peyton Manning‘s time in Denver. Thomas reeled off five straight 1,000-yard seasons from 2012-16, and that period doubled as the second-highest peak in Broncos franchise history.
Shortly after trading Brandon Marshall to the Dolphins, the Broncos drafted Thomas in the 2010 first round. Injuries slowed the big-bodied target to start his career, but he did not miss a game for six full seasons after starting the 2011 slate late because of an offseason Achilles tear. Thomas proved essential for Denver’s unorthodox Tim Tebow-directed attack in 2011, and his 80-yard walk-off touchdown — to cap a 204-yard performance — against the Steelers in the wild-card round doubles as one of this era’s signature plays.
Following Manning’s 2012 arrival, Thomas played a centerpiece role for a Broncos team that earned three No. 1 seeds in four years. He teamed with Eric Decker, Wes Welker and Julius Thomas on a talented pass-catching corps in 2013, when the Manning-piloted offense set the NFL single-season scoring record (606 points) en route to Super Bowl XLVIII. Thomas led that team in receiving and caught a career-high 14 touchdown passes. In 2014, he posted a career-most 1,619 yards. This drove the Broncos to give him a five-year, $70MM extension — which occurred within minutes of Dez Bryant‘s identical deal at the 2015 franchise tag deadline. That season, which featured a noticeable Manning decline, Thomas’ 1,304 receiving yards paced the eventual Super Bowl champion Broncos.
Thomas played four seasons on that deal, finishing it out in Houston. The Broncos ended Thomas’ eight-plus-year tenure at the 2018 trade deadline, sending him to the Texans. Later that season, Thomas suffered another Achilles tear — which preceded his release from Houston. Thomas finished his career with former Broncos OC Adam Gase, playing an auxiliary role for the 2019 Jets. Thomas’ 9,055 receiving yards and 60 touchdown receptions rank second in Broncos history — behind only Rod Smith.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.