The clock is ticking. July 15 is quickly approaching and little if anything has been heard out from either side in the Demaryius Thomas contract negotiations. That is the day Thomas has to sign his franchise tagged contract of $12.8 million and play the season with little to no long-term job security.

Simply put, Thomas deserves a long-term contract worth a high number of guaranteed dollars and a team will pay it to him. That team should be the Broncos and they should do so now for several reasons.

The first reason is the simplest one. Thomas has built himself into a top-three receiver in the NFL. Last season he became only the third receiver in league history with three consecutive seasons with at least 1,400 yards receiving and 10 receiving scores. He reached that feat in 2014 while coming up one game shy of tying the NFL record of eight straight games of 100-yards receiving, held by Calvin Johnson. One of those games included a 226-yard performance against the Arizona Cardinals, which is now the franchise’s single-game receiving record.

He exhibits exactly what every team wishes for in a wide receiver. He not only has the size to outmatch every cornerback in the league but he has the speed to blow by most of team as well. Broncos fans and opponents alike have seen him run screens for first downs and go-routes for touchdowns. He is elite in every sense of the word and that is why Denver will need him more than ever in the near future.

Peyton Manning has clearly helped Thomas put up ridiculous statistics yet he is still young and there is reason to believe he still has untapped potential. The fact that the Broncos will be starting a new quarterback in 2016 or 2017 is all the more reason to sign their enormous pass-catcher to a multi-year deal.

All rumors and reconstructed contracts aside it appears that the Manning playing years maybe ending after this season. While he is under contract through the 2016-17 season the $19 million he is due makes for a doubtful return. Brock Osweiler appears to be the man in waiting and he will need the expertise and big target of Thomas like the barrel man needed a sweater. Osweiler has thrown limited passes in the NFL and if the team wants him to progress quickly the weapons around him will have to be veteran talents.

Many quarterbacks with supreme talent have tried and failed to hold onto starting jobs due to their supporting cast. The situation a young quarterback enters must have the right piece or his career and the team’s season can be over shortly after it starts. Thomas could clearly ease Osweiler into the spotlight and get No. 17 on the right track for success. Look no further than the end of the last Bronco playoff victory with a quarterback not wearing No. 18. Thomas, while not putting up half of what he has in the last three years, still made plays when the team needed him most. Tim Tebow’s short slant versus the Pittsburgh Steelers showed why Thomas is so elite. He caught the ball in traffic, used his long arms and body to separate from his defenders and let his abnormal speed take him past the rest of the field for a walk-off win. That is what Osweiler will need down the road.

Lastly, the team can find a middle ground and hammer out a deal. The hold up clearly is the dollars and cents. Thomas wants career security and the Broncos do not want to be hamstringed for the next four seasons by cap issues. Both sides have understandable concerns. Yet, in recent seasons the team has banked on mostly out of town players and ignored free agents that they know and groomed over several seasons. If Aqib Talib, DeMarcus Ware, and T.J. Ward demand such high price tags what is the hold up for a player who has set the bar at his position not only on the team, but in the entire league?

It appears Thomas wants close to Johnson’s $16.2 million a year contract with about 40-45% of the deal guaranteed. That number does not appear to be realistic. Johnson’s deal is simple outrageous but Thomas certainly will be seeking more than the second highest paid receiver, Mike Wallace. Thomas will be watching Dez Bryant’s negotiations closely as well. Both players have received the franchise tags by their teams and are actively seeking a long-term deal before July 15.

Thomas deserves to get paid nearly $15 million dollars a year. The Broncos can afford the price tag if they make the adjustments to their roster. There are several players who have under performed at their positions that can be cut now and down the line to make cap space. Thomas is the opposite. He is a player of rare caliber and to have the exclusive chance to sign him before the rest of the league is something the team should seriously value now. If they decide to wait they run the risk of ostracizing one of their quiet leaders and will have to pay him over $15 million next year anyways if they seek to tag him again.

The Broncos should sign Thomas now and ensure that they have one the most talent weapons in the NFL for years to come. The team has shelled out money for big talent before without batting an eye. Signing Thomas is a safe bet. Who ever plays quarterback for the Broncos in the next four years will not only have a security blanket but a receiver that can do it all and with out a care in the world.

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