AFC West Blog
Almost immediately after Dez Bryant signed his five-year deal, Demaryius Thomas agreed to a five-year deal with the Broncos at almost the same value. Thomas signed a five-year contract worth $70 million and $43.5 million guaranteed. While the guaranteed cash is slightly less than Bryant's, Thomas will be given all but $8.5 million upfront. He's now locked in as the Broncos' WR1 for the rest of his prime years. Broncos' president John Elway praised Thomas after the signing. "We are thrilled to reach a long-term contract agreement with Demaryius Thomas," Elway said. "He has developed into one of the top wide receivers in the NFL, and making sure he remained a Denver Bronco was a significant priority for our team. Demaryius is a special talent and an elite player who has also become a team leader during his five NFL seasons. We are very much looking forward to him playing a major role in the success of the Broncos well into the future."
Demaryius Thomas was given the opportunity to become the first Broncos' player to sign a $100 million contract. It was a seven-year deal with $42 million guaranteed. However, Thomas declined the offer because the final two seasons were not guaranteed and worth $15 each season. He instead accepted the five-year $70 million offer he agreed to just prior to the July 15 deadline.
Demaryius Thomas is now under contract and ready for training camp. He may appear to be noticeably slimmer once he gets on the field. Thomas, who usually weighs in at 229 pounds, has cut his weight to 222 pounds. That's lighter than he was coming out of Georgia Tech. He says he's looking to play faster this season. "I'm fit," Thomas said. "I think I'm a little faster. I think I'll play at a smaller weight this year, see how it goes."
After signing his massive long-term deal with the Broncos, Demaryius Thomas has set his goals much higher. It looks like he wants to prove he's worth every dollar of his new $70 million contract. He now wants to leave every wide receiver evet in every relevant stat. "I want to lead the league in yards, touchdowns, basically about everything a receiver can do," Thomas said. "I kind of want to break the NFL record in yards. There's big plays to be made."
Philip Rivers is in the last season of his contract with the Chargers. He has said he wants to retire in San Diego, however, there have also been rumors that he will refuse to play for the team if they move to Los Angeles. Despite his contract situation looming large, he does not seem overly concerned with the matter. As a matter of fact, the only thing he really appears to be concerned with is preparing for the 2015 season. Now 33 years old, Rivers has to take some extra precautions with his body. "Troy Aikman is a guy who really told me this years ago," Rivers said. "He said as he got older, doing more and more core stuff for your back, for everything, to him was of utmost importance. I've done that maybe a little more so, just the stability there with the core. Other than that, I've done a similar routine. ... No drastic changes."
According to the Chargers' official website, the team plans to us wide receiver Stevie Johnson "in a variety of ways". He's expected to play both "outside and in the slot". Johnson is expected to see a lot of slot work early in the season due to the Antonio Gates suspension. He is expected to be a key contributor in Gates' absence. His quarterback Philip Rivers has nothing but good things to say about Johnson. "Stevie Johnson looks good," Rivers said. "He really came in and committed himself to learning (the system). You can just tell when he got here (he thought) 'I've got to dive in get this figured out because we play at a fast pace. We play a lot of no huddle.' So I've got nothing but positives to say about him so far."
Keenan Allen is expected to be the Chargers WR1. After a breakout rookie season, he disappointed during his rookie campaign. This season he has reportedly rededicated himself and looks great. According to his WRs coach Fred Graves, Allen is picking things up at a rapid pace. "It's impressive," Graves said. "He's a smart guy. He is one of those guys where you always have to give him something else because he picks things up so quickly. In a lot of years I've been coaching, he is (rare) in how he understands things. You can change things without frustrating him."
The Chargers lack a true deep threat in their WR corps. They added former Ravens' speedster Jacoby Jones to help remedy that issue. Entering the season with a 34-year-old Malcom Floyd as the primary deep threat was not going to work. Jones will add a lot to this offense with his speed and ability to make plays after the catch. Chargers WRs coach Fred Graves raved about Jones saying, "He gives us another guy who can go deep. Last year we had Malcom Floyd, but now we have two guys like that. We can put them on either side, and he is another physical guy, but obviously his run after the catch ability is the big thing."
Broncos' wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders is expected to play in the slot more this season. He is familiar with the slot from his days in Pittsburgh. However, he played on the outside a lot more last season. Sanders has now confirmed that he will be moving to the slot this season when the team comes out in three-receiver formations. "When we go into our three-wide receiver package, I am going to move into the slot, which I'm very comfortable doing because I played the slot in Pittsburgh and a lot in college," Sanders said. "I'm looking forward to that."
Following this year's draft, the Broncos signed undrafted free agent Jordan Taylor out of Rice. He dealt with some nagging injuries this offseason, however, he made a "massive impression" when he was on the field. Multiple players and coaches in camp had good things to say about Taylor, including Peyton Manning. "He catches everything around him and he's gone up and made a couple plays on some deep balls, which have stood out," Manning said.