Sep 14, 2014; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Broncos tight end Julius Thomas (80) celebrates after catching a touchdown pass during the first half against the Kansas City Chiefs at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports
It’s no secret that “Orange” Julius Thomas will be looking for that blockbuster deal this offseason, especially after the huge contracts that have been recently dished out to Vernon Davis, Rob Gronkowski, and more publicly, Jimmy Graham.
He emerged last season as a dynamic cog in Peyton Manning’s arsenal. In Thomas’ first couple of years in the NFL, he only had one lone catch to his name and sat on the roster bubble heading into the 2013 training camp.
That’s when he burst onto the scene and tore the league apart to the tune of 12 touchdowns and 788 receiving yards. Thomas was a revelation for the Broncos and absolutely took the NFL by surprise.
He’s become a premier tight end and is incredibly hard for opposing defenses to game plan for. He’s a physical specimen, standing at six-foot-five, weighing roughly 250 pounds. Like so many before him, Thomas uses his basketball background at Portland State University to dominate linebackers, cornerbacks and safeties.
Between his size and speed, the sky’s the limit for Thomas if he can stay healthy. He’s even on his way to breaking Rob Gronkowski’s record for the most touchdowns caught by a tight end in a single season (17). Thomas currently leads the league with 10 touchdown catches.
While “Orange” Julius is widely considered the best at his position, a problem has arose with him that cannot be surmised to poor game planning.
In prime showdowns like the Broncos had on Sunday in New England, Thomas has been nowhere to be found. In the Super Bowl as well as this season’s rematch versus the Seattle Seahawks, he went full “Where’s Waldo” on the offense.
In all three of those games, Thomas totaled nine catches that went for a measly 77 yards. His two scores are a nice touch, but one came on a walk-in, three-yard shovel pass.
Have you realized the trend yet?
Against the great secondaries of the NFL, Julius Thomas is a no-show.
A result of being a top-tier team like the Broncos is that there aren’t too many big games in a season. Most can’t compete with Denver, so when they play teams such as the Patriots or Seahawks, that’s when the cream of the crop are supposed to rise to the top.
It hasn’t exactly been true of Thomas and it’s difficult to see someone who’s looking to get paid similarly to the Jimmy Graham’s and the Gronkowski’s of the league actually get paid like it when his on the field performance says otherwise.
According to the NFL research done on spotrac.com, Thomas is in line to make $9 million per year, with another $19 million in guaranteed money over the next five years. That would make him the second highest paid tight end in the NFL.
At least John Elway realized the reality of the situation before the season began.
"“Even though Julius had a tremendous year for us, he’s only (played) 23 games,” Elway said. “We want Julius to be a Bronco for a long time and we think he has tremendous upside, but he’s not at that level.”"
Thomas is only 26 years old and has certainly had his fair share of shining moments in such a short amount of time on the field. He’s a reliable and immensely talented tight end that should only get better. This offseason, though, Bronco Country might have to watch Julius Thomas take his talents elsewhere.