Can the Denver Broncos Afford to Keep Their Big-Time Wide Receivers?

Throughout the past year, players like Demaryius Thomas have spent more time on the locker room benches than on the field. In fact, of all the players listed on the Denver Broncos current roster, Thomas is the only one who’s consistently missed games – due to injuries.

Can the Denver Broncos Afford to Keep Their Big-Time Wide Receivers?

As the team’s first-round pick back in 2010, Thomas is one of the longest-tenured players on the current Broncos roster. This means that throughout his NFL career, he’s witnessed the team get remade, reworked, and restricted in a variety of ways – starting with their powerful offense in 2013 and ending with their dominant defense in 2016. So as the Broncos close out this year with a 5-11 record, players like Thomas and Von Miller know that there will be a wave of changes to come this off-season – starting with the quarterback.

Unfortunately, with these changes comes uncertainty. In other words, every player knows that there’s no guarantee that they will remain on the team’s roster during the upcoming months.

The Gameplan

As of now, the Broncos’ primary focus is on their quarterback situation – which has been in discussion all year long and on John Elway’s to-do list for quite some time now. Fortunately, with so much focus on the quarterback position, other players can expect to remain on the roster – for now. The one major question, however, is who will the Broncos keep at wide receiver during the team’s rebuilding stage?

While it’s still early in the year and anything can happen, there is a scenario in which the Broncos release their star receivers in Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders – veterans who appeared in Pro Bowls and most notably, won a Super Bowl with the Broncos. Although neither Elway nor head coach Vance Joseph has publicly confirmed this speculation, with the team getting closer to their salary-cap space and looking for a quarterback, they’ll more than likely have to let some players go in the process. After all, football is all about business first before it’s recognized as a contact sport.

Since both Trevor Siemian and Paxton Lynch are still tied into their rookie contracts, the Broncos have enjoyed the benefit of having two devoted quarterbacks for the price of one. It also allowed them to give a big contract to Von Miller and have two wide receivers (Thomas and Sanders) along with a pair of top corners (Aqib Talib and Chris Harris Jr).

So if the Broncos dive into the free agency for a quarterback or use their fifth overall draft pick for one, a number of players on the current roster could see some contract adjustments. Especially if the coaching staff doesn’t think certain athletes are playing to their full potential.

For Thomas – who recently turned 30 – it will simply come down to whether or not the Broncos want to pay the $4 million bonus option. If they decide not to, then Thomas’ contract would be voided for the last two years and he would subsequently become a free agent going into the 2018 NFL season. If the Broncos do, however, agree to pay the bonus, then Thomas would remain on the team and finish the remainder of his contract.

If you combine this along with Sanders performance last year, there’s plenty of uncertainty at positions Joseph called one of the team’s strongest just a couple months ago.

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