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Report: Broncos' Julius Thomas expected to move on in free agency

Has Julius Thomas played his last down for the Denver Broncos?

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

According to Walter Football, there are rumors going around at the Senior Bowl that tight end Julius Thomas is not expected to give the Denver Broncos a home team discount, and is expected to sign with another team this offseason.

The Broncos have some tough decisions to make with a lot of talented players hitting free agency. Among that group is tight end Julius Thomas, whom many around the league believe is going to get a big pay day. Sources say that Thomas won't give the Broncos a home team discount, and it looks likely that he'll be moving on from Denver.

Right now this sounds like a rumor more than a solid report, so let's break it down.

Why this makes sense

The Denver Broncos have a lot of tough decisions to make this offseason. They have a number of players hitting free agency this season including star receiver Demaryius Thomas, and defensive tackle Terrance Knighton. The Broncos will have some tough decisions to make here, and I believe they will ultimately let Thomas walk.

Cornerback Chris Harris Jr. gave the Broncos a hometown discount in his contract, and receiver Demaryius Thomas said he would potentially give the Broncos one as well. The rumor, that Julius would not do that, could force the Broncos to move on from Thomas.

Thomas's injuries the past two seasons could make the Broncos think twice before offering him a big money, long term contract like the one he is seeking. The last two seasons Thomas has missed a combined 5 games and has been limited in others because of lingering injuries. He has yet to play an entire 16 game schedule thus far in his short career. The big question will be would you offer Thomas a long term contract knowing there's a good chance he will not play the entire season?

Plus, just look at John Elway's history. He's had no problem letting players walk if the price isn't right (see: Eric Decker, Zane Beadles, Elvis Dumervil, on and on an on...)

One last reason why I think this makes sense is Thomas's fit in Gary Kubiak's offense. Tight ends are asked to run block in his scheme, and Thomas is a pretty weak blocker. Backup tight end Virgil Green is a much better fit for the scheme and would be a much cheaper option for the Broncos.

Why this doesn't make sense

Thomas has a combined 24 touchdowns the past two seasons, and that type of production will be hard to replace. Also, Peyton Manning is nearing the end of his career, and the Broncos could decide to continue to surround him with the best playmakers as possible for one last run for his second Super Bowl ring.

Also, the Broncos do not have a lot of experience outside or Thomas. Virgil Green has been mostly used as a run blocker and rarely used in the passing game. Can Green step up and replace Thomas in the offense, or will the Broncos have to look in free agency or the draft for his replacement?

Likelihood it happens

I believe that Julius Thomas will be playing for another team this offseason

Right now, I believe that Julius Thomas will be playing for another team this offseason. The Broncos have to re-sign Demaryius Thomas this offseason, and they have Terrance Knighton, Orlando Franklin, Rahim Moore, and others to consider re-signing as well. I just don't see the Broncos giving Thomas the money he wants.

I think the Broncos will re-sign tight end Virgil Green, and use the money saved to find replacements at safety or defensive tackle, and look to upgrade the offensive line.