The Broncos have exercised a $4 million option to keep Thomas under contract for the next two seasons, Nicki Jhabvala of The Denver Post reports. Coming off a down season, Thomas may have been worried the Broncos would ask him to take a pay cut, but general manager John Elway said it wouldn't be an issue. True to his word, Elway exercised the option Tuesday, shortly after it was reported that Case Keenum will sign with Denver. Even if Keenum can't match his breakout 2017 campaign, he's a significant upgrade on Trevor Siemian and Paxton Lynch, giving the 30-year-old Thomas a real shot at a bounce-back season. The Broncos also are expected to retain Emmanuel Sanders, but the rest of the offense is rife with question marks, including the future of lead back C.J. Anderson.
Broncos general manager John Elway said Wednesday that the team would exercise Thomas' $4 million team option for 2018, which triggers the final two years of the five-year, $70 million contract extension he signed in the summer of 2015, Nicki Jhabvala of The Denver Post reports. There had been some speculation that the Broncos might request Thomas take a pay cut during the offseason in order to free up money to address needs elsewhere on the roster, but Elway's comments suggest Denver still views the 30-year-old as a quality No. 1 wideout, even after a down season in 2017. Elway also indicated that fellow starting receiver Emmanuel Sanders (ankle) would be retained in 2018, leaving the Broncos to perhaps make some tough roster cuts on defense if they're serious about making a run at one of the free-agent quarterbacks set to hit the market in mid-March. With none of the three signal callers who started games for the Broncos in 2017 -- Paxton Lynch, Trevor Siemian (shoulder) and Brock Osweiler -- showcasing much potential, it's likely that the team's Week 1 starter for the upcoming season isn't yet on the roster. Until that position is settled, Thomas' odds of bouncing back in 2018 will remain muddled.
Thomas snagged 83 of 141 passes for 949 yards and five touchdowns during the 2017 season. He fumbled once. Thomas' yardage total was the first time he failed to crack 1,000 yards since 2011. Thomas still finished 11th in the league in catches and 20th in yards, but neither total screams "elite" receiver nor warrant the $14 million average salary Thomas is hauling in. Fair or not, there is going be some debate concerning whether Thomas is on the decline and whether Denver should move on. True, he doesn't seem to be the dynamic catch-and-run target he was playing with Peyton Manning, but how much can Denver expect when it has trotted out an aged Manning, Brock Osweiler, Trevor Siemian, and Paxton Lynch for the past three years? Denver will almost certainly have a new face under center in 2018. Even a slight improvement should bring Thomas back up to speed, that is, of course, assuming that he survives this offseason's almost-certain shakeup.
Thomas snagged six of eight targets for 57 yards and a touchdown during Sunday's 27-24 loss to the Chiefs. Thomas juked a defender out of his shoes late in the fourth quarter, beating his man on a quick corner route and snagging a wide-open six-yard touchdown to tie the game at 24. The outing was bittersweet for Thomas. Not only did Denver lose, but he came 51 yards short of his sixth-straight 1,000-yard season. The fact that he's been able to keep the streak going this long with Denver's shoddy quarterback play in recent seasons is impressive in and of itself and he'll have to work some magic again in 2018 with Denver's quarterback situation very much in question.
Thomas reeled in four of six targets for 52 yards in Denver's 27-11 loss in Washington. You'd have to go all the way back to 2011 for the last time Thomas was held under 1,000 yards for a season. He faces an uphill climb to reach that mark in 2017. After Sunday's 52-yard outing, Thomas will enter Week 17 needing 108 yards to reach 1,000 for the season -- a sum he has accumulated just once all season. Add in the fact that second-year quarterback Paxton Lynch figures to make just the fourth start of his career in Denver's season finale and you're likely looking at a steep climb for Thomas to end the year.
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