JACK DEMPSEY/Associated Press
The Denver Broncos have a couple of important players entering the final year of their contract. Vic Lombardi, from CBS4 in Denver, tweeted that sources told him the Broncos recently offered a five-year contract to wide receiver Demaryius Thomas.
Mike Florio, from ProFootballTalk.com, reports that a team source told him “nothing [is] going on” with contract negotiations. Florio admits in his article that it’s possible that different interpretations can be applied to whether an actual contract was offered or not.
Regardless of where the team is at in the negotiation process, Thomas has no concern about his contract.
"I never think about that. I haven’t thought about it at all. I don’t even know if Decker was talking about it [last year]. All we talked about was being able to play with each other again. He wanted to come back, but it just didn’t work out. You really never think about the big payday, or anything like that. We like playing together, and I like playing football."
Thomas is one of the best wide receivers in the game today, and he should be compensated as such. In recent years we’ve seen two wide receivers (Calvin Johnson, Larry Fitzgerald) sign contracts in excess of $100 million. It wouldn’t be a shock to see Thomas get a deal similar in price.
Johnson signed a seven-year, $113.4 million contract with an average salary of around $16 million. Fitzgerald signed a similar deal, with a similar annual salary. Whereas Johnson’s deal was structured to be somewhat cap-friendly in the first few years, Fitzgerald’s deal has a larger price tag early on.
Assuming a five-year deal was offered, Thomas is unlikely to receive a deal with a contract total over $100 million. A contract with a closer structure to what the Broncos may want is the deal Percy Harvin signed with the Seattle Seahawks. That deal has a contract total of $64.25 million and pays Harvin an annual salary of $10.7 million.
Simply put, Thomas is worth more than $10.7 million annually. Perhaps a deal more in the range of $14-$15 million annually should be in order—if not more.
The Broncos have to be cautious moving forward. Thomas needs to get paid, but the team also has to manage expectations in the post-Manning era.
Peyton Manning has three years left on his contract, and it would be a surprise to see him play beyond that time. That means Thomas has three more years of elite production, then after that is a great unknown.
The expected drop-off A.M. ("After Manning") is certainly going to have an effect on the offer Thomas receives from the Broncos. It would be great for the team to wrap up the deal in the near future, but it could always use the franchise tag in 2014 on Thomas if there’s any setbacks in negotiations.