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What I would like to see done with the Demaryius Thomas contract

To tag, or not to tag, that was the question. Now that we know that answer, how much should the Broncos be paying Demaryius Thomas? And for how long?

Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Its that time of the year again, time for fans to pretend they know more than the GM (and cap gurus). Because Elway has a very big decision to make regarding Demaryius Thomas and his Franchise Tag / long term contract, I'm going to throw my hat in the ring and spend the Broncos money they way I see fit for him.

What we know:

  • We know that Demaryius is set to make $12.823 million dollars, fully guaranteed this year.
  • We know that DT is only guaranteed to be a Bronco for the 2015 season because tags are one-year contracts.
  • We also know that DT and Dez Bryant are joined at the hip meaning that they are much the same player at the same age, from the same draft, and will demand about the same amount of money.
  • We know that Demaryius said publicly that he'll be down for a hometown discount. Now, whether or not that was him being politically correct for the nation to see or if he was serious has yet to be seen.
  • We also know that DT won't have off-field issues, on-field issues, or be a cancer in the locker room. He really does seem like one of the rare WR non-divas and an overall fantastic human being.

What we know part 2:

  • We know that Calvin Johnson is the gold standard for wide receivers; not only in impact, but in salary.
  • We know that Megatron signed an 8 year, $132 million dollar contract with $60 million of it guaranteed.
  • We also know that these ridiculous contracts never actually live to see their maturity (meaning they never actually play out without a major restructure, or outright cutting of the player once the cap hit becomes manageable).
  • We also know that when it comes to contract extensions, two things are a priority: First is the length. Players want long term contracts because it helps mitigate their financial burden if they get hurt. The second and by far the biggest sticking point is the guaranteed portion of the contract. Megatron doesn't sign an 8 year $1 billion dollar contract if he only gets $20 million guaranteed money. He just doesn't.

This leads me to believe that it is the guaranteed portion of the contract, not the overall dollar amount, that players get stuck on. Yes, they want long-term security, but they'd get the length in years taken care of anyways. We also routinely see players add length of contract for even a few million more in the guarantee department. Why? Again, it is because they might get hurt, and if they do, they will still get that guarantee. That is why Megatron wouldn't sign such a ridiculous deal unless the guaranteed portion was there. He also couldn't sign it because it's way over any salary cap known to man (yes Steinbrenner, even yours), but my point is still valid. It is the guaranteed portion of the contract that players (and agents) are most interested in. The non-guarantee is simply window dressing.

Which brings me to my playing GM for the day. First, we know DT will get $13 million guaranteed this year. If he doesn't get a long term deal, he can get tagged again. That tag would be (in my estimation for next year) around $19-20 million. That is essentially a 2-year contract with $33 million guaranteed. Let's extrapolate that out shall we? What if we quadruple that (to reflect 8 years: i.e. length of the Calvin Johnson contract). That would be, without raises in the tag's worth, an 8 year, $132 million contract. Sound familiar? Yes, it's the exact length and overall money as the current C. Johnson deal. The difference? All $132 million would be guaranteed. That's a darn sight more than $60 million guaranteed. In fact, it's more than double. Sounds too good to be true for Thomas, right? Well, it is. It'll never happen. But let me tell you want I think COULD happen.

I think the Broncos should call DT's agent and say "Look, we love Demaryius. We want him on our team until the day he retires. But you know as well as I know that these Star Wars numbered contracts never see their fulfillment. Knowing that, we won't try to blow smoke up anyone's backside. Instead, let's do this. Let's make DT the highest paid player in NFL history." Naturally the agent's ears will perk up. "Continue," he says.... Elway can then unleash my master plan. "We are going to offer DT an 8 year $80 million dollar contract. Now get this, that $80 million is 100% guaranteed. He will never have to worry about being cut or injury. His contract will see fruition because it's guaranteed. He will be the richest player in the NFL and the envy of all players. What do you think?"

And that my friends is where I ask the same question... "What do you think?" 
Fully guaranteeing a contract will work. It takes away the sticky points of every NFL contract negotiation. It gives the player the ultimate security blanket. They don't have to worry about signing an 8 year $132 million contract and only seeing $60 million of it before they are cut for salary cap reasons. There is no huge $22 million dollar final year of a contract (Larry Fitzgerald). The salary cap won't be gouged with an enormous $13-16 million cap hit that only increases each year of the contract. There would be a wonderful "hometown discount" given by DT ($10m per year is a huge discount), but in reality, there is no discount because he knows as well as the Broncos, that he will be the highest paid (guaranteed portion) player in the NFL. If that doesn't say "we love you", then I just don't know what does.

**If you think that 7 or 8 years is just too long to guarantee a player, fear not. My line of reasoning is simple. Take Megatron's 8 year, $132 contract. Upon completion of his 5th year (2016), he will have been paid a total of $80 million dollars. If DT signs a fully guaranteed $80 million 8 year contract and plays 5 or more years (meaning he can get injured and miss 3 full seasons), he will not cost the Broncos a penny more than he would had he signed a traditional contract. The bonus of that? If he plays longer than 5 years, it's free elite WR play for the Broncos because they would be saving $50 million over those remaining 3 years! I dare anyone to find flaws in that logic!

So what do you think? Does this have legs? Do you think he would go for it? And maybe more importantly, do you think we will see a contract like this done this year or the next?