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It may only be minicamp, but there is a major developing story out of Dove Valley. Top-tier wide receiver Demaryius Thomas is absent on the first day of mandatory practices.
“Georgia On My Mind” was one of the first songs to play during the stretch period of practice Tuesday, and all Broncos fans are wondering whether their Georgia-born beast of a receiver will play for the Broncos this year.
“Well, I mean, work is work. I know he’s working, we’ve been in contact with him,” head coach Gary Kubiak said after practice, Tuesday. “I don’t know if it’s ever the same,” he continued, about individuals working out compared to being with the team.
Thomas, who was given the franchise tag by Denver, refuses to sign and therefore earn $13 million this season for playing. Interestingly, according to Albert Breer, because Thomas hasn’t signed yet, Denver can’t even fine him.
Breer, one of the best NFL analysts on Twitter, continued to explain the Broncos and Thomas have until July 15 to strike a deal. If they fail to do so, he wouldn’t be able to sign until after next season. It’s why many expect DT to sign just before the deadline, much like Ryan Clady did in 2013, when Denver inked him to a five-year deal.
“It’s going to get worked out and he’s going to be here…I’m just looking forward to that time,” said Kubiak. “It’s our job as coaches to find out where he’s at…and have a plan.”
A top-five receiver sitting out a season with Peyton Manning playing quarterback, possibly Peyton’s last? That’d be idiotic. Especially when considering Thomas is currently in his prime.
Over the last three seasons with Manning tossing him the pigskin, Thomas has put up noteworthy numbers. He’s averaged 99 receptions for 1,494 yards and 11.7 touchdowns per season; it’s not the kind of production which can simply be replaced. Thomas is a physical freak of nature – he’s big, fast, strong and agile, too – but the major knock on him has always been his focus.
Dropping passes has haunted DT a bit, as it seems his head simply isn’t in the game at times. Now, he’s letting the six inches between his ears get in the way again, playing chicken with the Broncos in determining his worth instead of being out on the practice field, getting reps while connecting with teammates and the new coaching staff.
Denver’s Super Bowl window is quickly closing, and everyone must be on the same page for the Broncos to reach their potential as one of the top teams in the NFL.