According to Mike Klis of the Denver Post, before the season started, the Denver Broncos offered star wide receiver, Demaryius Thomas, a contract extension that would have paid him more than $13M per year. Those numbers would have put him over the likes of Percy Harvin ($12.85M), but under the league's top paid WRs in Calvin Johnson and Larry Fitzgerald ($16M).
Clearly, John Elway values Thomas and his contributions to the team, but the Thomas camp obviously believes that he's worth top-scale money. The Broncos offer would have likely paid him like a top-5 WR, which he clearly is, but not as the top WR.
The devil is in the details and it's unknown what type of guarantees were built into the offer. Likely, that was the deal breaker. He might have started off slow, but with four consecutive 100-yard receiving games, a new franchise record, Thomas' value is increasing exponentially as the season wears on.
"It had nothing to do with it. I didn't play bad because of the contract, and I didn't start playing good because of the contract. I just play. I don't think about the contract. It has to get done pretty soon." -- Demaryius Thomas
The Broncos recently put contract talks on hold, both with Demaryius and Julius Thomas. Klis also reports that Elway offered Julius an extension that would have paid him somewhere between $7.5M and $8.5M per year. The highest paid tight end in the NFL is New Orleans Saints star, Jimmy Graham, who earns $10M per season. Rob Gronkowski is the second highest paid TE with $9M per year.
"It has to be done at some point. The contract ends after this season, so something has to get done, right? I'm just playing football, enjoying it. We have a good team. You can't worry about it. -- Julius Thomas
Like Demaryius, Julius has exploded in the first half of the season, leading the league with 9 touchdowns. The further the Broncos get into the season, the harder it's going to be to sign both Thomases. With cornerback, Chris Harris, also playing in a contract year, and performing at an All-Pro level, I don't envy John Elway his situation.
Elway is leaning on salary cap wizard, Michael Sullivan, to figure out a way to keep all three, but it's looking less and less likely that it will happen. Terrance Knighton, Rahim Moore, Orlando Franklin and Nate Irving are all playing in the last year of their deals, as well.
When you're paying your quarterback $20M per year, it makes it that much more difficult to spread the wealth. And with a roster with as much elite talent as the Broncos have, Broncos Country better start bracing themselves to see at least a couple of these guys leave in free agency. Such is the business side of the NFL. Hopefully the Broncos find a way to keep the Thomases and Harris in Denver long-term.