Julius Thomas is about to become very, very rich.
If reports are true, he and the Jacksonville Jaguars will finalize a deal some time soon after the free agency period begins at 2:00 p.m. MDT Tuesday (maybe even 2:01 p.m.) that will pay him around $9-10 million per year. That's pretty far north of the $6-8 million per year the Broncos offered Julius last offseason and partially explains why the Broncos have not been in touch with Julius this offseason. They know he has priced himself out of their range.
Another part of Denver's tepidness to even come to the table with Julius may be the bitter taste they have in their mouths after Julius' 2014 season. Broncos fans have accused Julius of quitting on the team after his ankle injury late last season. Those accusations were supported when someone who appeared to be Julius' father defended his son's effort down the stretch, saying "black opportunities matter." Those words implied that the potential for Julius to strike it rich as a healthy player in the offseason meant more to Julius and his family than playing hurt for the Broncos.
That's the family's take. Broncos Ring of Fame tight end Shannon Sharpe has a football take.
One reader asked Sharpe why the Broncos have had no interest, challenging the idea that Julius doesn't fit the new scheme. Sharpe replied simply, "If you watched Broncos gms you know why."
Asked to clarify, Sharpe expanded: "He quit on the Broncos making less than a mil. Give him 9 mil what would he do?"
Those are damning words from a fellow Broncos tight end who used to be pretty far in Julius' corner. Julius' unwillingness to play hurt and his subsequent bolt for free agency has Sharpe calling out Thomas as a quitter.
Here's my take: I would like to take Julius' motives and emotions out of it.. We don't know whether Julius' motives were purely financial, related to football toughness, a combination of both, or if his ankle really was just too hurt to allow him to make plays down the stretch.
The bottom line is that, no matter Julius' motives, Denver decided not to call him this offseason. The Broncos had a number on Julius last offseason, and that number was at most $8 million per year. Whether he was hurt or he quit, Julius didn't do enough this season to increase that number in Denver's eyes.
So why bother calling at all?