Denver Broncos: The 12th Roster Move Gift From John Elway


A Christmas tradition song is called “12 Days of Christmas,” but for John Elway he has established his Denver Broncos tradition with 12 superb roster moves.

John Elway instituted a winning culture from 2011 with three Super Bowl appearances, one coming away as victors. Another aspect to Elway’s stardom is the creation of an offensive masterpiece. This brings us to the 2011 NFL Draft, the first draft of his career and the gift number 12 of his tenure as executive.

In the fourth round, Elway drafted Julius Thomas with the 129th pick out of Portland State. Thomas entered Training Camp that year as a raw product at tight end and in hopes of competing for a roster spot. He battled numerous injuries the first few years before erupting on to the NFL scene in 2013 under Peyton Manning’s led offense.

Thomas’ first start came against the Baltimore Ravens to kick off the NFL season in 2013. Manning may have thrown for seven touchdowns, but Thomas’ talent to stretch the field pushed the Broncos offense to new heights reaching historic proportions. Thomas helped Manning break the touchdown record against the Houston Texans catching the 51st. If you do not remember the historic touchdown, then here is a video. Along with Thomas catch facing the Texans, shown below is also Manning’s seven-touchdown performance (two went to Thomas).

As a best gift, Elway drafted a tight end instrumental in an offense sending them to Super Bowl 48. However, the other aspect of this best of Christmas is letting Thomas test free agency. Elway decided to not spend money on their prized tight end at the time and instead devote it elsewhere.

Elway’s choice to let Thomas walk in 2015 proved correct as Thomas signed with the Jacksonville Jaguars. There in Jacksonville, Thomas’ injury history carried with him. Thomas became a non-factor in a young offense led by a first round quarterback. It is unfortunate to see the downfall of Thomas, but Elway’s decision making in free agency seems to be always correct.

This is the beginning of the 12 gifts (roster moves) of John Elway. Julius Thomas is two gifts in one for the Denver Broncos franchise. Stay tuned for number 11 tomorrow.