It sucks to have to write these kinds of posts, especially when I can still remember reading rumors from almost exactly four years ago about the Broncos’ interest in Julius Thomas, but it appears likely the two are destined to separate this offseason.
According to a report from WalterFootball.com, the rumors were swirling around the Senior Bowl that Thomas will price himself outside the Broncos’ budget and sign with another team.
“The Broncos have some tough decisions to make with a lot of talented players hitting free agency. Among that group is tight end Julius Thomas, whom many around the league believe is going to get a big pay day. Sources say that Thomas won’t give the Broncos a home team discount, and it looks likely that he’ll be moving on from Denver.”
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As a fan, you hate reading stuff like that. I can still remember back in 2011, actually quite distinctly, reading about the Broncos’ rumored interest in Thomas and how they were sending tight ends coach Clancy Barone to give him a private workout. The Broncos saw Thomas’ potential as a former basketball player, and they traded up in the fourth round of John Elway’s first draft to get him.
Unlike Eric Decker, I don’t think Julius Thomas is going to leave Denver without an offer on the table. The Broncos will certainly have him back, but only at their price. I like that John Elway operates like that, especially with guys like Thomas who are injury prone and one dimensional — let’s just call it what it is. There’s no doubt in my mind that Thomas is a Pro Bowl caliber tight end but he can’t block a lick and he’s not physical.
When his ankles are not right, the only area of his game that is a major strength turns into a major weakness. When he’s healthy, Thomas is one of the best pass catching tight ends in the game and he deserves a nice pay day. Apparently, he doesn’t deserve as much as he thinks he does, but Thomas will test the market and at least see what some team will give up to get him.
The Jaguars, Raiders, Browns, Jets, and Titans are the top five in the NFL in projected cap space, and since Julius Thomas is from California, my money is on him signing with the Oakland Raiders who have a desperate need at the tight end position.
The Broncos will land on their feet, however, as this year’s crop of tight ends in the draft is really solid, and more well-rounded tight ends like Charles Clay and Jermaine Gresham are free agents. The Broncos likely will also make re-signing Virgil Green a priority, and he could go into next season as the starting tight end depending on who is signed in free agency.
One player the Broncos have significant interest in is Miami tight end Clive Walford, one of the stars of Senior Bowl week.