There is no denying that when the Detroit Lions signed Calvin Johnson to a contract extension in 2012, all young NFL receivers’ eyes glimmered with the idea of one day getting a Megatron-type deal. Johnson received an 8-year extension worth $132 million dollars, with $43.8 million dollars guaranteed.

Now, 29-years-old, Johnson continues to be a premier receiver in the league proving the Lions were right to give him the biggest receiver deal in NFL history.

With the Denver Broncos and wide receiver Demaryius Thomas finally reaching an agreement Wednesday afternoon before the deadline, DT will be in Denver for at least the next five years on a $70 million contract. The deal contains $43.5 million guaranteed: an $11 million signing bonus, a $6.5 million initial roster bonus, and each of Thomas’ first three base salaries.

This is a long-term commitment from the Broncos to keep Thomas in Denver. The most important thing is that the focus can now turn back to football. With training camp looming, Manning will have his number one receiver on the field.

In the last three seasons, Thomas has caught 297 passes for 4,483 yards and 35 touchdowns. These stats have propelled DT to becoming one of the premier receivers in the league, no question. Taking it a step further, over the past three years there have been 16 instances where a wide receiver (and one by a tight end) caught 85 balls for 1,200 yards and 10 touchdowns. Of those 16, three were Thomas.

When it comes to NFL wide receivers, Demaryius Thomas is at the very top of the list with other stars like Dez Bryant and Johnson. DT has proven his ability to have an impact on the passing game for multiple seasons, and from his perspective he got paid what he felt he was deserved.

Taking a look at the production stats from another angle, you can understand why this deal took so long for the Broncos and Thomas to get it done.

Peyton Manning arrived in Denver in 2012 after a hall of fame career in Indianapolis. Manning, who was healthy and ready for a new challenge, embraced his role as the leader of the Denver Broncos, and his performances didn’t disappoint. Since 2012, the Broncos have set the NFL alight with video game-like passing numbers.

Just last season, Emmanuel Sanders, in his first year with the Broncos, caught 101 passes for 1,404 yards and 9 touchdowns. This was Sanders’ best season in the NFL by far. When he signed with The Broncos prior to the 2014 season, he made it clear he was coming to Denver because Manning makes receivers better.

Eric Decker is a prime example of a wide receiver that had great years (2012, ’13) with the Broncos before signing a big contract. Decker signed in 2014 with the New York Jets for five years and $36.25 million dollars with $15 million guaranteed.

In the two years Decker played with Manning, he caught 172 passes for 2,352 yards and 24 touchdowns. Decker then became a big-time free agent and when a deal with the Broncos could not be agreed upon, the Jets swooped in.

Decker’s two previous seasons with the Broncos (2010, 2011) tell a different story. In 2010 and 2011 the Broncos were between quarterbacks with Kyle Orton and Tim Tebow both getting opportunities. During those two tumultuous years, Decker caught 50 passes for 724 yards and 9 touchdowns.

Last year with the Jets, Decker had 74 catches for 962 yards and five touchdowns. Geno Smith was the Jets quarterback and there is no certainty that he will be the Jets starting quarterback for the upcoming season. Decker is getting paid, but he’s not putting up big numbers or competing for a division title.

Another one of Manning’s favorite targets who left for a better contract was Julius Thomas. He was a tight end that exploded onto the scene thanks in large part to Manning. In his two full years in Denver (2013, 2014), he was almost unstoppable. He caught 108 passes for 1,277 yards and 24 touchdowns.

This remarkable production from the tight end earned him a lot of accolades and a lot of money. In March, Julius Thomas signed a lucrative deal with the Jacksonville Jaguars for five years and $46 million dollars with $24 million in guarantees.

For some perspective, the 27-year-old Demaryius Thomas caught 54 passes for 834 yards and six touchdowns in his first two seasons (2010, ’11) in the league before Manning arrived. Thomas never played more than 11 regular season games in his first two seasons, posting very pedestrian stats.

With Manning now 39 years old and entering his 17th NFL season, it’s possible to think that this will be his final season. If that is the case, the Broncos will likely turn to Brock Osweiler and the running game will take more of the offensive load.

Gary Kubiak, now the Broncos head coach, has already said Denver is going to be more of a running team; expect that to continue once Manning departs for retirement.

What does this all mean for DT?

With a deal now in place, Broncos Country will hope that DT continues to put up big stats. He will be held responsible for being the leader of the Denver receiving corps. He will be expected to be the number one target for the foreseeable future drawing the best corner from opposing teams.

The Broncos have committed their faith to Thomas and have proven it by giving him one of the most lucrative deals for a wide receiver in NFL history. Giving that much guaranteed money to a position player besides the quarterback is a risk, but a risk Elway and other Bronco executives felt was worth taking.

However, history doesn’t paint the prettiest picture for similar scenarios.

In 2013, the Kansas City Chiefs signed wide receiver Dwayne Bowe to a five-year deal worth $56 million dollars with $26 million guaranteed. Fast-forward to 2015 and the Chiefs released Bowe who now plays for the Cleveland Browns. As ESPN pointed out:

Bowe, 30, was a target for release because of his hefty salary-cap figure and declining production. He was scheduled to cost the Chiefs $14 million against their salary cap this year. He hasn’t caught more than 60 passes or had more than 801 yards in any of the past three seasons. In 2014, he was held without a touchdown for the first time in his career.

If Thomas reached the apex of his career in 2014, when he posted franchise records for receiving yards and touchdowns, Denver could find themselves in a similar situation as Kansas City in the not-to-distant future.

In another example, in 2013 the Miami Dolphins signed wide receiver Mike Wallace from the Pittsburgh Steelers on a five-year deal worth $60 million, with $30 million guaranteed. Jump to 2015 and this offseason Wallace was traded to the Minnesota Vikings for draft picks.

While Manning is a better quarterback than any of the quarterbacks Bowe or Wallace have had throwing to them, Thomas may only be receiving passes from Manning for one or two more seasons. But the Broncos want to win now and signing Thomas was a big part to that equation.

Similar to Thomas, 26-year-old Dallas Cowboys receiver Bryant waited until the eleventh hour to get a deal done with the Cowboys signing a five-year deal worth $70 million with $45 million guaranteed.

Thomas and Bryant along with Johnson are now the top three receivers to earn the most guaranteed money as NFL on ESPN  pointed out:

With big-time money comes big-time expectations and now with DT getting the contract he wanted, the coaching staff and all Broncos fans will expect DT to continue to be an elite receiver in the NFL.

With Manning under contract for two more seasons, the Broncos have secured a key offensive target to take another shot at the Lombardi Trophy that has eluded the Mile High City since 1999. If DT can help deliver that elusive title, it will all be worth it. If not, there will be big decisions to make in a few years when Thomas’ guaranteed dollars run out.

Sammy Mugharbil, a Mile High Sports intern and MSU-Denver student contributed to this report