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NFL free agency: Tight end Julius Thomas leaving Broncos to play for Jaguars

Julius Thomas is following the money. Can you blame him?

(Sean O'Brien/@ClutchDigi)

Julius Thomas should write Peyton Manning a thank you note.

Thomas has agreed to terms on a five-year deal with the Jaguars, according to Bleacher Report's Jason Cole. The deal is expected to become official Wednesday.

The contract is expected to be worth $46 million with $24 million guaranteed, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport. That's an average of $9.2 million per year, $7.5 million more than he made during his entire four years in Denver.

Sharpe's Take

Thomas was selected by the Broncos in the fourth round of the 2011 draft. After struggling to stay healthy during his first two seasons in the league, Thomas exploded with a breakout year in 2013. Thomas caught five passes for 110 yards and two scores in Denver's season opener that year and never looked back.

Thomas finished the season with 65 catches for 788 yards and 12 scores, earning a Pro Bowl selection. His production slipped a bit last season, as health concerns prevented him from starting in six games. He caught 43 passes for 489 yards and 12 touchdowns in 2014, earning another Pro Bowl nod.

Many fans have been hard on Thomas over the past year for a perceived lack of toughness, an allegation that caused his father, Greg Thomas, to lash out on MHR.

"This kid has beaten all the odd [sic]. You losers have been knocking him since he got drafted, screaming 'he's a nobody, he didn't play against anybody, he's soft, he can't this, he can't that' and all he did was prove every critic wrong along the way," the elder Thomas said.

Thomas will now have a chance to prove his value with a struggling Jacksonville franchise. It may sound hard to believe, but the Jaguars' offense has potential entering 2015.

Second-year quarterback Blake Bortles is talented, Denard Robinson was one of the hottest running backs in the league for a five-week stretch last season, and receivers Allen Hurns and Allen Robinson have shown flashes of brilliance. Adding Thomas to the mix will make Jacksonville's offensive attack more potent, especially in the red zone.

Bortles is no Manning, but the Jaguars hope he can develop a Philip Rivers to Antonio Gates type of connection with his new tight end.

The Broncos, meanwhile, have already replaced Thomas by re-signing tight end Virgil Green to a three-year deal and bringing in veteran Owen Daniels on a three-year deal.