Julius Thomas' representatives, with his back-to-back seasons of 12 touchdown receptions, are looking to move him into the upper reaches of the pay-grade at the position. With a long list of free agents that includes wide receiver Demaryius Thomas, the Broncos are not expected to put a better offer in front of Thomas than he could get elsewhere.
Thomas finished with the 4th-highest PPG in standard formats in each of the last two seasons, but he missed two games in 2013 and three more (plus reduced snaps in three additional games) in 2014. His value is likely to take a hit if he signs elsewhere.
Peyton Manning reassured Denver Broncos officials, including general manager John Elway, that he is physically and mentally prepared to play at a significant level in 2015, league and team sources told ESPN's Chris Mortensen.
The two sides met Thursday in Denver and while retirement technically remains an option for Manning, it is not one he expressed to Elway and CEO Joe Ellis, sources said.
Manning took it upon himself to get a comprehensive evaluation from a renown performance manager and trainer, Mackie Shilstone, during the past 2½ weeks in New Orleans. Shilstone, who was worked with several elite athletes in the latter stages of their careers, has given the quarterback a strong assessment based on numerous workouts and tests, a source said.
The quad injury that plagued Manning at the end of the 2014 season is fully healed.
Manning first popped up on the injury report with a thigh injury after Week 15 (vs. San Diego). When looking only at his first 13 games, Manning averaged 301 yards, 2.8 TD and 0.8 INT, or 21.4 fantasy points per game. That would have been good enough for the third-highest average if he were able to keep that pace. In the final three weeks, including the game in which he injured the thigh, Manning averaged 272 yards and just 1.0 TD versus 1.3 INT. Even with the reduced production, Manning finished as the #4 quarterback in 2014. If he's fully healthy and ready to go, we'd expect him to be selected in the top 5 in 2015 fantasy drafts, though the Broncos' activity in free agency (namely re-signing Demaryius Thomas and Julius Thomas) will impact his value.
According to three trustworthy sources, Peyton Manning wants to return to the Broncos, but won't and can't make a final decision until he takes an annual physical examination mandated by his contract. Last year, the test results were learned at the beginning of March. The Broncos have requested that Manning let them know his plans by March 9 — the day before teams must exercise their rights on veteran players under contract. Manning, who turns 39 on March 24, is due $19 million next season.
Friday, January 9, 2015, 6:47pm
Broncos TE Julius Thomas (ankle, probable) took full practice reps all week and is probable for Week 19. Thomas is going to play but he has just five catches for 66 yards in his last four games after posting the #1 TE numbers through the first 10 weeks.
Tuesday, December 30, 2014, 2:41pm
Thomas hurt his ankle in the team’s 10th game, however, and added just five catches and 66 yards to those totals while sitting out three games before making a quiet return in the final three weeks of the regular season. Thomas called the experience a “frustrating” one and said that he hopes the bye before the Broncos open their playoff schedule helps him get back into form.
“I just try to do everything I can, continue to get better and try to get healthier,” Thomas said, via ESPN.com. “Some things feel great, some things I’m still trying to improve on. It kind of changes day-to-day, but I’m just going to keep working with it and keep doing all I can. That is definitely the goal. I’m hoping that in two weeks it’ll be a big change for me. So get over that hump and get back to looking like the guy I used to be. So I’m looking forward to it and definitely anticipate being in better health.”
Thomas’s injury and ensuing absence from the lineup coincided with the Broncos’ offensive turn toward a more run-heavy look with C.J. Anderson, as well as an uneven stretch of play for Peyton Manning. Having Thomas somewhere closer to full speed would provide a boost to the passing game for Denver, although it will be a while before we know if the extended rest has served as the right tonic for Thomas’s troubles, the story pointed out.
Friday, December 26, 2014, 6:53pm
Broncos TE Julius Thomas (ankle, probable) took full practice reps all week and is probable for Week 17. Thomas played his highest percentage of snaps (65%) since Week 10, so he’s working his way back. He saw six targets, so at least he was involved in the offense.
Christopher Clark (T, back), Cortrelle Anderson (RB, ankle), Cody Latimer (WR, concussion), Jacob Tamme (TE, ribs), Demaryius Thomas (WR, ankle), Julius Thomas (TE, ankle), Will Montgomery (C, knee).
Paul Cornick (T, toe), Brandon Marshall (LB, foot).
Brandon Tate (WR, illness), Jermaine Gresham (TE, toe), Margus Hunt (DE, ankle), Terence Newman (CB, ankle), Mike Pollak (G, knee), Carlos Dunlap (DE, calf), D'Andre Kirkpatrick (CB, Achillies).
QB A.J. McCarron (illness)
Emmanuel Lamur (LB, hamstring), James Wright (WR, knee).
Friday, December 19, 2014, 6:02pm
Thursday, December 18, 2014, 6:14pm
Friday, December 12, 2014, 6:26pm
Broncos TE Julius Thomas (ankle, probable) took full practice reps on Friday after being limited earlier in the week and is probable for Week 15. Thomas is expected to return in Week 15 after a frustrating few weeks. Don’t expect his usual production, but he’s worth a start solely due to his heavy involvement in the red zone.
Thursday, December 11, 2014, 6:32pm
Broncos TE Julius Thomas (ankle) took limited practice reps again Thursday. Thomas is expected to return in Week 15 after a frustrating few weeks. Don’t expect his usual production, but he’s worth a start solely due to his involvement in the red zone.
Wednesday, December 10, 2014, 6:25pm
Broncos TE Julius Thomas (ankle) took limited practice reps Wednesday. Thomas is expected to return in Week 15 after a frustrating few weeks. Don’t expect his usual production, but he’s worth a start solely due to his involvement in the red zone.
Tuesday, December 9, 2014, 9:22am
For the first time since his injury Broncos TE Julius Thomas was in uniform for a game, but he did not play a snap in the Broncos' 24-17 victory. Following the game Broncos head coach John Fox said Thomas could have played if the Broncos needed him.
Monday, Fox was asked how the decision was made to put Thomas in uniform, rather than make him a gameday inactive, and then not play the league's leader in touchdown receptions in the game.
"Just like every week, we have 53 men on the roster and we have to pick 46 to be active for the game," Fox said. "You have to sign documents, there is all kind of paperwork. There are guys who work out before games to see how they look and how they feel. We picked him as one of the 46."
Against the Bills, tight end Jacob Tamme played with a rib injury he had suffered in the Broncos' win in Kansas City the week before. Tamme was clearly limited by the injury and played just nine snaps in the game after taking a big hit on a reception just before halftime that resulted in a fumble.
Thomas had spent more than 30 minutes stretching, jogging and running some short routes for backup quarterback Brock Osweiler before last week's game the story said. It went on to say that last week Thomas said the injury to the left ankle is "nothing like" his previous ankle troubles, and he said he has good and bad days. Even with the team running the ball more, the story points out they've missed Thomas in the passing game as teams are now focusing their attention on wide receiver Demaryius Thomas. Even if Julius Thomas is active again this week, owners will now be left to wonder if he gets on the field.
Julius Thomas returns after two weeks off. Start him if you've got him, but he will be playing at less than 100%.
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