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ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported the Broncos get rid of $4 million in cap space this season and $14 million next season with the move. Broncos general manager John Elway commented on the trade, via Mike Klis of 9News:
“With the youth we have at receiver, we wanted to get them on the field, and Demaryius goes to a team that wanted him. It was best for both sides. We weren’t going to do this unless we got value. We weren’t taking less than a fourth.”
James Palmer of the NFL Network noted the Texans weren’t the only team interested in the veteran wideout:
James Palmer @JamesPalmerTV
It’s been Pats, Titans, Eagles, Texans all interested to some extent in Demaryius Thomas.
Thomas, 30, is a four-time Pro Bowler, last playing in the all-star showcase after the 2016 season. The past two years without Peyton Manning at quarterback have been more difficult for Thomas, however.
During last year’s QB carousel, the receiver dipped below 1,000 yards for the first time since 2011, registering 83 receptions for 949 yards and five touchdowns. While Case Keenum has been an upgrade this season, Thomas has still only posted a modest 36 receptions for 402 yards and three scores, as Emmanuel Sanders has emerged as Keenum’s most trusted target.
And Thomas perhaps hasn’t helped his own cause, struggling with drops in recent seasons:
Kevin Seifert @SeifertESPN
Most drops since 2015, per @ESPNStatsInfo:
Michael Crabtree: 26
Demaryius Thomas: 24
Mike Evans: 22
Amari Cooper: 22
And when trade rumors began buzzing in October, Thomas said he understood the chatter but liked playing for the Broncos.
“That’s a good thing if somebody is interested because then I can still play ball,” he said, per Klis. “I still got a chance, if I get traded. I want to be here, but I’ve been hearing it the whole season now so I feel like somewhat it is true. My time here is coming up.”
Given Sanders’ strong season and Courtland Sutton’s emergence at the position, Thomas became expendable for a Broncos team that isn’t one of the AFC’s top contenders.
While he is perhaps no longer the dynamic threat and touchdown machine he was earlier in his career, he’ll still be a big body (6’3″, 229 lbs) and veteran presence for the Texans, who should upgrade their receiving corps. And if he develops a quick rapport with Deshaun Watson, he could be a key component for Houston, which is looking to make a playoff push.
Plus, he’ll help fill the void left by the injured Will Fuller V, who’s out for the season with a torn ACL.
His days as an elite weapon are likely over. But if Thomas can be a reliable target in Houston, the Texans will be more than justified in swinging this deal.