After weeks of talks between the New Orleans Saints and star tight end Jimmy Graham, a deal has finally been reached in terms of a four-year, $40 million contract including $21 million guaranteed. Now that Graham has a shiny new contract, the Denver Broncos should be the next team to begin negotiations with their star tight end Julius Thomas.
Thomas is in the final year of his contract, and the Broncos should use the Saints’ deal for Graham as a blueprint on how to negotiate with Thomas. Graham has a lot of football left in him and has yet to reach his full potential. The same thing can be said about Thomas. He is a tight end who emerged and had a breakthrough season in 2013. And the stats speak for themselves. He only had one reception in his first two years and exploded for 66 receptions for 788 yards and 12 touchdowns in 2013. The 12 touchdowns were the most of any Broncos tight end in a season. Not even Shannon Sharpe recorded more than 10 in a single campaign.
While it maybe difficult for the Broncos to base their contract decision on Thomas on the one year of production, they can get a lot of upside from him. Thomas is only one year younger than Graham, so that spells as good news because there is so much more that Thomas can bring to the Broncos franchise. He is the tight end the Broncos have been looking for since Sharpe retired.
Thomas’ performance in 2013 was so key in the offense, especially when it came down the stretch. In the divisional round against the San Diego Chargers, Thomas made some key catches to keep the clock moving and keep the ball out of the Chargers’ hands.
It is uncertain what the Broncos plan to do when both the front office and Thomas sit down to negotiate, but I believe Thomas will benefit greatly from the Graham deal because it allows the Broncos to look closely at what the tight end position is worth. With how Graham, Thomas and even Rob Gronkowski have evolved the position and how huge their position is, it should sway the Broncos to figure out something to match the deal. I won’t be surprised at all if Thomas makes somewhere near what Graham agreed to with the Saints. He deserves it in every way.