Denver Broncos star wide receiver Demaryius Thomas has informed the team he will not partake in either their offseason workout program, or quarterback Peyton Manning’s annual offseason workouts at Duke University.
Thomas, who has yet to sign the $12.83M exclusive rights franchise tender placed on him earlier this month, will instead return to his home state to await a long-term contract resolution. Speaking with ESPN Denver's Jeff Legwold over the phone from a charity event in Los Angeles, Thomas said, “I’ll be back in Georgia, trying to get the body right.”
While it’s not uncommon for star players who’ve had franchise tags placed on them to hold out of non-mandatory workouts, Thomas’ decision raises red flags. This season is quite possibly the last chance the Denver Broncos have to win a championship in the near future.
You’d think every player on this roster, from one to fifty-three, would be pouring their hearts out in the weight room, and preparing to sacrifice their bodies on the gridiron to sneak under that rapidly closing championship window, before it shuts for good. Instead, Denver’s star outside receiving threat is sitting out the entirety of the offseason program because he wants to get paid.
Every player in the NFL deserves to make as much money as they can while they can. No one should be angry, or displeased with Thomas for trying to capitalize at his fullest. However, this isn’t the time to sit on the sidelines, while the rest of your teammates try to win a championship.
There is no reason Thomas couldn’t both take part in OTAs, and continue fighting for a long-term contract. His decision to sit out the offseason program is detrimental to the health of the franchise, and could result in serious problems for the team long-term.
Thomas is no doubt one of the NFL’s top pass-catchers. His combination of elite size, strength, and speed is rare, even at the professional level. However, any statistical success Thomas has had can and should also be tied directly to his quarterback.
The season before Peyton Manning arrived in Denver, Thomas caught 32 passes for 551 yards and four touchdowns, although he spent much of the 2011 season (and his rookie year) injured. A year later, with Manning under center, Thomas’ numbers nearly tripled across the board, catching 94 passes, for 1,434 yards, and 10 touchdowns. In 2013, Thomas led the AFC in receiving touchdowns, with 14.
Thomas’ argument in negotiations with the Broncos is no doubt based around his statistics. However, General Manager John Elway is clearly pondering whether Thomas will be the same receiver after Manning as he has been with Manning.
It’s a fair question. Wide receiver is a dependent position. It’s hard to imagine Thomas posting the same type of numbers with a different quarterback delivering him the football.
Thomas owes much of his statistical success to Peyton Manning. For “DT” to sit on the sidelines during the most important offseason in Manning’s career could be construed as treasonous. During the offseason work Thomas will miss out on, his teammates will be implementing head coach Gary Kubiak’s brand new offensive scheme. That’s a process that takes repetition and practice.
Thomas is giving a big old “up yours” to Manning and the Broncos because he didn’t get paid like he wanted. More than $12M for a year’s work is a lot of money, after all. This simply isn’t the season to hold out. So much is at stake for the Broncos. Demaryius Thomas is hurting both his team, and his reputation by sitting on the sidelines.
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