Julius Thomas is scheduled to become a free agent on March 10 when the new NFL league year begins. Thomas, who has enjoyed two productive seasons with the Denver Broncos, could be on the move to the Jacksonville Jaguars, who reportedly are interested in the tight end, per Mike Klis of the Denver Post.
Thomas was drafted out of Portland State in the fourth round of the 2011 NFL Draft. Known as much for his basketball talent as his football ability, Thomas was slow to develop due to injuries. Thomas appeared in five games during his rookie season before missing all of 2012 following offseason ankle surgery.
In 2013, Thomas exploded onto the scene with 65 catches for 788 yards and 12 touchdowns, earning his first Pro Bowl nomination. Last year, Thomas was once again bitten by the injury bug, playing portions of 13 games and only amassing 43 receptions and 489 yards, albeit with another dozen touchdowns.
Why it makes sense
Jacksonville is flush with money. The Jaguars have the most cap space of any team with $64.3 million available. With Blake Bortles entering his second year, general manager David Caldwell needs to add playmakers. With Cecil Shorts III on his way out and Marcedes Lewis declining in ability, Thomas would be an ideal security blanket. Thomas could help Jacksonville convert in the red zone, an area the team needs drastic improvement in after ranking 31st last year at 40.6 percent.
Ultimately, Jacksonville can flat outbid anybody for Thomas' services. It also doesn't hurt that income is tax free in Florida.
SB Nation presents: Julius Thomas impresses on our Super Bowl game show
Why it doesn't make sense
Thomas would have to go from playing with the great Peyton Manning, to Bortles and the worst offensive line in football. Jacksonville was a disaster in front of Bortles, giving up a league-high 71 sacks in 2014. Would Thomas risk going from one of the best teams in football at a solid pay rate, to play with a franchise lacking obvious direction for a larger check?
For Jacksonville, the downside is obvious. With Thomas' inability to play a full 16 games, it could be paying a ton of money for a guy in street clothes on Sunday. On the field, Thomas has never truly lived up to his reputation as a dominant player. He's a lousy blocker and has never eclipsed 800 yards even with Manning throwing the football.
Probability of it happening (1-10): 7
Thomas seems all but done in Denver. Considering his injury history and the fact that this could be the 26-year-old's only major payday, Thomas will have a hard time turning down the money. The Jaguars have a boatload of cap space and realize that the offense needs to be greatly improved if the team hopes to make a move anytime soon.
With Gus Bradley slowly turning the defense around, a signing like Thomas would help the offense get up to speed. Thomas is a risk, but the Jaguars can afford to take a chance.