Demaryius Thomas has been on a roll, over the last three and a half years. After taking a 10-yard slant 80 yards to the house, in the Denver Broncos overtime victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 2011 Wildcard Round, Thomas' star began to burn bright in the NFL.
But what really catapulted him into the stratosphere was when Peyton Manning chose to sign with the Broncos, following his whirlwind free agency tour in 2012. Playing with Manning will do that.
The Thomas and Manning connection has become arguably the best quarterback-wide receiver duo in the league ever since. Thomas has ratteld off two consecutive seasons of 90+ receptions, 1,400+ yards and 10+ touchdowns. With 88 receptions, 1,255 yards and 10 TDs already this season, Thomas is on easily on pace to make it three-straight.
However, he is playing in a contract year. General Manager, John Elway, has been working to get Thomas extended long-term, but it hasn't been easy. His stud WR has priced himself into the NFL's elite and he deserves to be paid as such. It has put the team in a bit of a pickle.
When you're paying your QB $20M per year, it can limit your options in retaining elite talent at other positions, especially skill positions. Fortunately, the Broncos have one of the league's top salary cap wizards, in Michael Sullivan. Notwithstanding this, the Broncos and Thomas camp have been unable to come to an agreement. Yet.
One thing that could grease the wheels of a new deal, and hopefully close it, is the fact that Thomas is apparently willing to give the Broncos a "hometown discount", in order to stay in Denver.
He recently appeared on NFL Network's NFL Total Access. Thomas was asked by Dan Hellie if he would be willing to give the Broncos the benefit of a hometown discount in his negotiations for a contract extension. His response.
"Of course, why not? Peyton is one of the best in the game, and I've been blessed to have him as my quarterback. I learned so much of him. Denver, of course I gotta take my hats off to them, because they took a chance of drafting me in the first round."
This comes as very good news for the members of Broncos Country who have been justifiably concerned that the Broncos and Thomas have heretofore been unable to come to terms. Thomas' agent will certainly have something to say on this matter, but Thomas' message is clear; he values playing with Peyton Manning and he'd be willing to take less money to remain with him.
There is nobody left in the Broncos front office who had anything to do with the drafting of Thomas in the first round. Likely, there's another reason he wants to stay in Denver.
He could chase the money, but as Eric Decker has learned, much to his chagrin, in his time with the New York Jets, staying in the sunlight, in and of itself, will make a player more money in the long run, than accepting a big, front-loaded deal. Dropping off of the statistical map, due to sub-par QB play, is a fast ticket to "Nowheresville" and irrelevance. Decker will find it difficult to even sniff mid-tier WR money the next time he's a free agent.
Kudos to Thomas for recognizing this. The Broncos recently opened up contract negotiations with star cornerback, Chris Harris, Jr. Perhaps they should re-open them with Thomas and strike while the iron is hot.