Free Agency: Broncos Lose Julius Thomas, Orlando Franklin?


The Denver Broncos had to stick to the script during the soft launch of free agency, which will continue into Monday and part of Tuesday, as they watched a couple of their star players accept offers from other teams.

While the reported offers have not yet been made official, it seems like all but a done deal that both Orlando Franklin and Julius Thomas will be departing for big money free agent deals.

For Franklin, it’s a long-term deal from rival San Diego and the Chargers, where he will reunite with Mike McCoy who was Denver’s offensive coordinator in 2011 and 2012. Franklin was a starter as a rookie with the Broncos in 2011 as well as in 2012 at right tackle, which could be where the Chargers project him, though Franklin can play left guard as well.

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For Julius Thomas, it’s a rumored four-year deal from the Jacksonville Jaguars. After all the fuss that was made about his dad being an Oakland Raiders fan and how he would love to go ‘home’ and play for Oakland — all those rumors turned out to be false.

Thomas’ four-year deal is rumored to be in the $40 million range, which would be unreal money for him considering Randall Cobb just got paid the same deal.

The Broncos knew they were probably going to lose both of these guys, but losing Julius Thomas is something I’m sure Peyton Manning is not overly thrilled about. Manning threw 24 touchdown passes to Julius alone over the course of the last two seasons, and he made a really big reception against the New England Patriots in the AFC Championship game two seasons ago to help send the Broncos to the Super Bowl.

Franklin was arguably the Broncos’ best lineman all of last season. He graded out as such according to Pro Football Focus, and was paid handsomely by the Chargers, who had a good amount of cap space. According to Mike Klis of The Denver Post, Franklin will earn $7.2 million annually and receive $14 million guaranteed on a five-year deal.

That pill would have been tough for the Broncos to swallow for a guy that they weren’t sure would fit in their zone blocking scheme, so not re-signing Franklin wasn’t a horrible idea for them and their current cap situation.

The good news in all this is the Broncos are likely going to get a nice haul of compensatory picks in 2016. They are already expected to get a great haul in 2015, but next year could be even better.