The Denver Broncos are looking to lock down one of the premier receivers in the NFL by offering Demaryius Thomas a five-year contract extension. Thomas is entering the final year of his rookie contract with the Broncos. Although official financial figures have not been released at this point, it is likely that Thomas will be paid a figure comparable to the league’s most elite group of receivers.
Sources tell me the Broncos have made an initial contract offer to Demaryius Thomas. It’s a 5-yr deal.
— Vic Lombardi (@VicLombardi) June 13, 2014
At only 26 years old, Thomas appears to deserve that level of pay raise. Since the arrival of Peyton Manning in Denver, Thomas has dominated the AFC. In 2013, Thomas amassed 92 catches, over 1,400 yards and 14 touchdowns.
In today’s NFL, wide receivers are truly a dime a dozen. It is not very difficult to find quality guys late in the draft or at a discount in free agency. So this offer tells me two things. Firstly, John Elway and the front office feel that Thomas will take another step forward as a receiver. Secondly, the Broncos believe that with this step Thomas is an elite receiver regardless of who the team’s quarterback is.
What improvements can a receiver who put up 14 TDs a season ago make? Thomas has the passion, the intelligence and the hands to compete with any receiver in the sport. What he lacks, however, is a knowledge or willingness to use his size to his full advantage. Thomas is a physical freak on the field, rivaling Dez Bryant and Larry Fitzgerald in pure athleticism.
Thomas, unlike the aforementioned Bryant and Fitzgerald, has been unable to use his size to block defensive backs away from the ball. He needs to be more physical, plain and simple. If he can beat press coverage off the line, fight for a jump ball on the sideline, and not be afraid to rub pads every once in a while, the Broncos may just have a truly elite receiver. Thomas is physical, sure, but not to the level he could be.
Manning will more than make up for any faults a receiver may have on the field at any given time. The question is: Once Manning is gone, can Thomas maintain an elite level of impact? Pay close attention to how Thomas attacks the cornerbacks early in the season. A more physical Thomas is an elite receiver.
Zachary D’Argonne is a Denver Broncos Writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @ZacDargonne.