The case for keeping Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders

DENVER, CO - DECEMBER 31: Wide receiver Demaryius Thomas
DENVER, CO - DECEMBER 31: Wide receiver Demaryius Thomas /

If the Denver Broncos want Kirk Cousins, does it make much sense to let go of one of their stud receivers Emmanuel Sanders or Demaryius Thomas?

It’s rumor season in the NFL, which means just about every player’s name is going to be talked about in trade ideas or salary dump ideas. Even teams’ star players, like Denver Broncos receivers Emmanuel Sanders and Demaryius Thomas, have been brought up in trade and cut rumors.

As a matter of fact, many in Broncos Country have already resigned to the idea that one — or both — could be gone this offseason.

But why?

Well, the answer is simple — money.

But if the Broncos need to clear cap space, there are probably better ways to do it than by getting rid of two of your biggest recruiting chips for Kirk Cousins.

If the Broncos want to sign Cousins, doesn’t it seem counter-productive to rid of one of Sanders or Thomas, especially both?

The GMFB crew discussed it, and Kyle Brandt pretty well convinced me that if Cousins is the ultimate destination, trading or releasing one of your two star receivers doesn’t make much sense at all…

As much as shedding salary this offseason makes sense for the Broncos if they want to pursue Cousins, they may have to shed that salary in other areas in order to lure him in.

Having Thomas and Sanders is one of the Broncos’ biggest selling points right now, and there are other ways to save money than just letting those guys go.

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One thing they could do is re-structure Demaryius Thomas’ contract, and save money against this year’s cap. They won’t be able to do the same for Sanders, whose cap hit is over $10 million, but they could at least explore the option with Thomas.

Essentially, Thomas is on a two-year contract right now worth nearly $30 million. The Broncos have until the start of the new league year to pick up a $1 million option that would trigger his base salaries for the 2018 and 2019 seasons.

If they don’t pick up the option, they eat just over $3 million in dead money.

We outlined this and much more in a recent post about Thomas’ contract.

This means, if the Broncos want to ensure they are able to make a run at Cousins, the clock is ticking on re-negotiating Thomas’ contract.

After listening to the GMFB crew, I’m pretty convinced that getting rid of one of these two receivers prior to Kirk Cousins’ decision would be foolish on the Broncos’ part, unless they had a plan to bring in someone just as good via free agency and at half the annual cost.