No player has felt the impact of the Denver Broncos’ poor offensive season more than wide receiver Demaryius Thomas.
Going into Week 17, Thomas needed 108 yards to claim his sixth consecutive 1,000-yards receiving season. But the odds were against him. This season Thomas has only managed to one game of over 100 yards receiving — a Week 6 loss against the New York Giants — and was only averaging 69.6 yards per game.
Along with that, Paxton Lynch was at the helm making just his fourth NFL start. In Lynch’s last outing, the second-year quarterback only managed to complete nine passes for 41 yards before exiting the game late in the third quarter due to an ankle injury.
The odds were long for Thomas to keep his 1,000-yard streak alive. Unfortunately, there was no magic to be found.
Thomas finished the game with six receptions for 57 yards, 51 yards shy of what he needed. His 1,000-yards receiving streak will end at five.
Thomas finishes the disastrous 2017 season with 81 receptions for 949 yards. Both of these are his lowest total since his second year, when Tim Tebow was the Broncos’ quarterback. Thomas also finished the season with just five touchdowns, tied for the third-lowest output in his career.
The lack of output has also resulted in Thomas snapping his Pro Bowl selection streak, as he will instead be sitting at home during the exhibition game for the first time since 2011.
Is this a sign of the diminishing skills of an aging Thomas, Denver’s longest-tenured player? Not necessarily for the 30-year-old.
Instead, it’s more of a reflection on the quarterbacks and offense that Thomas has been surrounded by during his career. His first 1,000-yard season occurred in 2012, which was also the first year veteran Peyton Manning joined the team. It was also the first year Thomas was selected to the Pro Bowl. He finished that season with 1,434 yards and 10 touchdowns on 94 receptions. During the Manning era, Thomas averaged 1,447 yards and 10 touchdowns per season.
Once Manning retired, however, the numbers began to fall off.
Entering 2016, the Broncos went with then-second-year quarterback Trevor Siemian. Without Manning, the entire offense was expected to fall off in terms of production and scoring. While these expectations were correct, Thomas was still able to keep his streak alive, finishing with 1,083 yards.
This season, however, a carousel of quarterbacks caught up with the receiver. Having to deal with three different starting quarterbacks (each who had two stints as starter) throughout the season, Thomas was never able to quite keep up his blistering receiving pace from previous seasons. Despite this, the perennial captain was still by far the team’s leading receiver, finishing with 394 more yards receiving than teammate Emmanuel Sanders. His five touchdowns also led all receivers on the team.
Now, there is potential that Thomas’ future with the Broncos is in jeopardy. He does have two more years remaining on his current contract with the Broncos, however only the 2018 season is guaranteed, and rumors have started that the team may look to move him in the offseason, especially if they want to pursue higher-priced free agent quarterbacks such as the Redskins’ Kirk Cousins.
Although Thomas’ time with the Broncos may end soon, one thing is for certain: The wide receiver will enter 2018 looking to start a new streak of 1,000-yard seasons.