Thomas' Absence 'Makes Zero Sense' To Elway

Today, John Elway made his opinion known on Pro Bowl wide receiver Demaryius Thomas' absence from the Broncos OTAs.

ENGLEWOOD, Colo.—Today, Denver Broncos Vice President of Football Operations and General Manager John Elway met with the media in his pre-draft press conference. One of the more interesting nuggets, which came towards the end, was regarding Pro Bowl wide receiver Demaryius Thomas, who is currently holding out of organized team activities, in an effort to negotiate a long-term contract.

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The Broncos applied the Exclusive Rights Franchise Tag to Thomas, which will pay him $12.83M in 2015. It’s essentially a one-year, fully guaranteed contract. Of course, Thomas wants the security of a long-term deal, as do the Broncos, according to Elway, but the two parties seem to be in a disagreement regarding the best way to accomplish that.

When asked today whether Thomas’ absence from OTAs puts pressure on the Broncos to get a long-term extension done, Elway’s façade cracked a little, perhaps allowing a little emotion, or frustration, to leak out.

“To be dead honest, I see absolutely zero value in him being away from here—zero value for him,” Elway said. “There is no value for him not to be here with his teammates. As far as negotiations and his new deal and what’s going on, we’d like to get something done. By him being away from here, there is zero value not only to us, but also to him. To me, it makes no sense. That actually has no effect on anything that we’re talking to about trying to get a contract done with him, because that’s what we’d ultimately like to do. For him not to be here has zero effect.”

To be fair, players who have been franchise tagged really have only one recourse to strong-arm a new deal—hold out. Thomas is utilizing the only leverage he has, and there’s no reason to hold it against him. What if he attends OTAs and gets hurt, and diminishes his value on the open market in 2016 as a result, you ask? Elway doesn’t see how Thomas could be protecting himself from injury by working out away from the team’s facilities and training staff.

“That makes no sense to me, him not getting hurt,” Elway said. “If he gets hurt here, he’s covered. If he gets hurt somewhere else, he’s not. Tell me why that makes sense that he wouldn’t be here working out with us? That’s why I don’t understand it at all. That’s part of the game, but it makes no sense for him not be here.”

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As a front office executive, Elway has developed a reputation for not valuing his homegrown talent when their rookie contracts expire and they hit the open free agent market. He’s allowed Pro Bowl-caliber players to walk, like Zane Beadles, Elvis Dumervil, Julius Thomas, Terrance Knighton and Orlando Franklin, all of whom, except Knighton, were drafted by the Broncos.

In other words, Elway doesn’t strike me as the sentimental type, or a guy who easily gets caught up in emotion. To me, his message today to Demaryius Thomas is clear: get to Dove Valley as soon as possible, if you truly want a long-term deal from the Denver Broncos.

Chad Jensen is the Publisher and Lead Analyst for MileHighHuddle. You can find him on Twitter @ChadNJensen and on Google+.

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