New Broncos receiver shares unique connection with Demaryius Thomas

Denver Broncos, Vyncint Smith (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Denver Broncos, Vyncint Smith (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images) /

Although there are over 2,200 active players in the NFL between 32 teams, 53-man rosters, and 16-player practice squads, it’s funny how the idiom it’s a small world can so often apply. In the case of the Denver Broncos‘ most recent practice squad addition — wide receiver Vyncint Smith — it’s a small world is barely scratching the surface.

On Monday, the Broncos reportedly made former Texans and Jets wide receiver Vyncint Smith the 16th and final player on their practice squad. As rosters have been assembled and tinkered with over the last week — anything but finalized — the fact that the Broncos went after a 26-year-old receiver to fill out their scout team is rather interesting. The position they targeted is hardly surprising, but the player? That’s another story entirely.

New Denver Broncos practice squad WR Vyncint Smith has connection to Demaryius Thomas

As pointed out on Twitter by XanB21, Vyncint Smith’s path in the NFL has crossed multiple times with the late, great Denver Broncos receiver Demaryius Thomas. In 2018, Smith was a rookie in the NFL with the Houston Texans, an undrafted free agent out of a small South Carolina school called Limestone. Back in 2018, Thomas was traded by the Broncos to the Houston Texans for draft picks, and when he got to Houston, he had to learn a new offense quickly to help a playoff-contending team.

It was Smith that helped Thomas get into the playbook, according to a 2019 article published in The Athletic (subscription required), in exchange for Thomas helping Smith with his on-field work while the two were together in Houston. Interestingly enough, that wasn’t the last time their paths would cross, either. When Thomas was a member of the New York Jets in 2019, he helped convince Adam Gase and the Jets to sign Smith off of Houston’s practice squad.

Was that a motivating factor in the Broncos bringing Smith into the fold as their 16th practice squad player? Perhaps not. Perhaps it’s all a coincidence. Although Smith had already earned a 53-man roster spot in Houston at the time Thomas was acquired by the team in a trade, Thomas certainly played a major role in helping Smith develop his game and get even more opportunities — to actually play some receiver — with the Jets.

It will be fascinating to hear stories from Smith about how much he learned from Thomas and what their relationship was like. Thomas retired a Bronco before he tragically passed away last December, but the time he spent in Houston and New York before his playing days unofficially ended is a relative unknown for Broncos Country. Vyncint Smith can provide a unique perspective of Thomas from a time period when we weren’t getting daily updates on him and what he was doing.

Of course, reading that Thomas took Smith — an unheralded young player trying to find his way in the league — under his wing comes as no surprise. Thomas was a great mentor to current Broncos receivers Courtland Sutton and Tim Patrick when they were cutting their NFL teeth as well.

As a player, Smith has some NFL experience to his name. He played quite a bit for the Jets in that 2019 season but has only played in nine games since. He signed a reserve/futures deal this past offseason with the Buccaneers but didn’t make the team out of training camp. Now, things are coming full circle for him in a way by signing on with the Denver Broncos, even just as a practice squad player.

At 6-foot-3, Smith runs a sub-4.4 in the 40-yard dash and has special teams experience to bring to the table. Perhaps he could be some Tyrie Cleveland insurance if Cleveland is not 100 percent ready for the first game of the season. The Broncos definitely needed some size at the receiver position after letting go of Seth Williams, and here they get some with a guy that’s got some unique ties to one of the franchise’s most legendary wide receivers.