Shortly after news broke that Dez Bryant would be signing a five-year deal worth $70 million with the Dallas Cowboys, Demaryius Thomas signed, like, the exact same deal with the Denver Broncos. Even the guaranteed money ($43.5M guaranteed to Thomas, $42M to Dez) was essentially identical. Hmm….#COLLUSION.
Anyway, this is good news for the Broncos, and, more specifically, Peyton Manning. Denver has a nice group of receivers, but Thomas is what really makes the thing come together. Emmanuel Sanders and whatever’s left of Wes Welker remain serviceable, but Thomas is what puts Denver’s offense over-the-top.
Demaryius Thomas is the only player in the league to have racked-up at least 1,400 receiving yards in each of the last three seasons, culminating in his career-best 1,619 yards in 2014. He ranked No. 2 in the NFL in that category (behind only Antonio Brown), though he was tops in the league with 184 targets. His 11 touchdowns was good for 10th among pass-catchers.
These numbers are particularly impressive when you consider the slow start. Remember all the “what’s wrong with Demaryius Thomas?” crap after the first three weeks of last season? Through three games, he’d caught 13 total passes for just 141 yards and one touchdown.
All of that was immediately put to rest after Week 4, when he amassed eight catches for 226 yards with two scores against Arizona. Pretty good! He failed to record at least 100 receiving yards just three times over the final 13 regular season games. Even when it seemed like Peyton Manning’s arm was on the verge of falling off of his body, DT was still putting up respectable totals.
On that note, the only thing that gives me pause regarding Thomas next season is, in fact, Manning. He clearly wasn’t the same Peyton down-the-stretch last season that we were accustomed to seeing, which is worrisome considering the guy’s 39. Of course, we later found out that Peyton had been playing with a freaking torn quad for the season’s final month. There’s a zero percent chance this didn’t play a major role in his on-field regression. However, we also can’t be sure it was the only reason he wasn’t playing well, either.
Regardless, I still tend to think Manning will be fine next season, which means that Demaryius Thomas will be, too. He ranks second to only Bryant in receiving TDs over the last three years (35), and another 1,400+ yard, 10+ TD season should be in order. I’ve got him as my No. 4 overall WR for 2015.