When the Denver Broncos and John Elway decided to hire Gary Kubiak as the head coach, the complexion of the organization changed in an instant. The Broncos went from a spread style offense to what we all assume to be the offense of the Denver glory days when guys who were no-names out of college could come in and run for 1,000 yards and bootlegs became synonymous with Bronco football.
With all the talk of how Peyton Manning will fit in the new look offense, not much has yet been made of how the change will affect free agents Julius Thomas and Demaryius Thomas. The Broncos know that the Thomases are going to be the focal point of the offseason, and regardless of what happens with Manning, Elway hopes to retain both of these star receivers as a foundation for the passing game moving forward.
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I fully expect that the Broncos will either work out a long-term deal with Demaryius Thomas or wind up franchise tagging him, but things are quite different for Julius, who is in a bit of a gray area right now. With all his injury issues in his first four years in Denver, Thomas’ price tag is going to be a hot topic of debate. That price tag — or perhaps more pressing, the Broncos’ willingness to make it work — are critical as we approach the offseason.
By John Elway bringing in Gary Kubiak, he made the tight end position one of primary importance. The value of the tight end is significantly inflated in this type of offense, as the Broncos proved over the years by making guys like Tony Scheffler into Pro Bowl caliber players. Thomas is a player that comes with a buyer beware tag due to his injury problems, but he’s also one that could be an absolute stud in the Kubiak/Dennison offense with the Broncos, no matter who is playing quarterback.
Owen Daniels was targeted 79 times this past season with the Ravens, Garrett Graham 88 with the Texans in 2013, and 103 for Daniels the year prior to that in Houston. The list goes on. Needless to say, the tight end is a glamorous position in this offense and Thomas stands to benefit greatly from that. The Broncos don’t have any tight end under contract for 2015 at this point in time, so they obviously will want to bring back Thomas and likely backup Virgil Green.
One thing is certain though, that the hiring of Kubiak means the Broncos are more likely — at least in my opinion — to try and keep Julius around for the long-term, considering how successful he can be in this type of offense.