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Broncos have 'increased expectations' of No. 88 now

But Broncos' GM John Elway doesn't see any reason for a drop in production from No. 88 just because he's landed the big deal. "We have a tremendous amount of confidence in DT, and it’s why we’re comfortable paying this kind of money.”

Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

It came down to the wire with just minutes to spare before Broncos GM John Elway and star wideout Demaryius Thomas inked the largest contract in franchise history for a wide receiver - five years at $70 million with $43.5 million guaranteed and $35 million of that fully guaranteed.


I think until you get any kind of deadline, it's hard to get anything going. Demaryius wanted to stay in Denver, and we wanted him to want to stay here.   -John Elway on negotiations with Demaryius Thomas

It was almost an identical contract to Dallas Cowboys' wide receiver Dez Bryant, who signed for $70 million over five years with $45 million guaranteed just 30-plus minutes before Thomas.

And while no movement occurred until Wednesday morning on the offers presented to each party over a month ago, Elway spoke about the historic deal as if it was just another day at the office.

And that's the thing - for Elway, it was just another day at the office.

"I think until you get any kind of deadline, it's hard to get anything going," Elway said. "We wanted to get a deal done - they knew that. Demaryius wanted to stay in Denver, and we wanted him to want to stay here. It was just a matter of trying to get those terms where both sides could live with them."

And they reached those terms at 1:35 p.m. - less than 30 minutes before the deadline.

"We're thrilled that we were able to get the deal done and that DT is going to be a Bronco for another five years," Elway said in a conference call with the media Wednesday just hours after the contract was signed. "We have high expectations that he is going to be a big part of the success we have."

But don't worry about the $70 million or the $43.5 million guaranteed having a surprise impact on the cap or on coming big-time contracts. TYJE has already factored that in, including of course Von Miller who will be up next season.

"We look at what the value is to the Broncos, what we can afford, how that fits into the structure and how that fits into our football team," he said, pointing out that the Broncos work off of three- and four-year plans when looking at player contracts. "We're well aware of the people we have coming up. We have a lot of good football players coming up. D.T. was the first step. We will have a plan for Von next year as well as with other players."

Demaryius is the first part of trying to keep this football team together. I think it was a very fair deal for both sides.   -John Elway

And despite rumor after rumor that no deal was going to get done - plus accusations that Elway won't pay his homegrown players - the fifth-year GM had an answer: $70 million in five years. In fact, his first answer was $100 million over seven years.

"With Demaryius - he's obviously a big part of that, and he's the first part of trying to keep this football team together," Elway said. "I think it was a very fair deal for both sides."

Elway indicated that Bryant's deal with the Cowboys certainly influenced their initial offer, but the Broncos' front office had its numbers picked out and knew where they were willing to go in negotiations.

"Any time you have two special football players at the same position that are going into a franchise year, there is always caution that no one jumps the gun," Elway said. "I think it went as long as it went to be able to make sure that everybody [was] where they needed to be."

Thomas clearly felt comfortable with where it ended up, which could see No. 88 donning Broncos' orange and blue his entire NFL career.

Posting on Instagram after he signed, Thomas said, "Bronco for life!! Truly a blessing. #GodBless."

Bronco for life!!! Truly a blessing. #GodBless

A photo posted by demaryiust (@demaryiust) on

But as happy as Broncos Country is to have No. 88 back on the team, Elway noted that Gary Kubiak and the rest of the coaching staff is going to be careful introducing the wide receiver into training camp in two weeks.

"I think that we'll just have to be careful with D.T. when he comes into training camp and really manage him and get him up to speed with what we're doing mentally," Elway said, adding that since DT also missed OTAs and minicamps there's a lot of ground to make up. " We're going to monitor that very closely and make sure that we get him up to speed and don't take any unnecessary risks with him."

But that cautious re-entry is not a sign of any fear of Thomas' future production now that he's landed the big contract he deserves.

"I don't think there's any question that DT is one of the top wide receivers in the league and he's being compensated that way now. It's very well deserved on DT's part," Elway said, adding that he only expects Thomas to get better. "He's a hard worker, studies and he's smart. ...That's what we have seen the past three years from Demaryius and what we'll see for the next five as a big-play guy and a No. 1 receiver."

And "No. 1" is exactly what Elway and Co. is expecting this coming season.

"We have high expectations. We think he's coming right into his prime and we don't anticipate him backing up at all," Elway said, adding that DT is exactly the kind of player the Broncos want to have on the team. "We have a tremendous amount of confidence in DT, and it's why we're comfortable paying this kind of money."