It wasn’t so long ago that the Jaguars considered receiver Mike Thomas a rising star. The 2009 fourth-round pick racked up 114 catches for 1,273 yards and five touchdowns during his first two seasons, primarily operating as a slot receiver. Last October, Jags G.M. Gene Smith signed Thomas to a three-year, $18 million contract extension. The deal included $9 million guaranteed.
But 2011 was easily Thomas’ worst season as a pro, as he struggled with drops, route running, and a transition from slot to outside receiver. Some Jaguars fan-types have blamed quarterback Blaine Gabbert’s awful rookie season on the performance of his pass catchers. And if that’s to be believed, Thomas was a primary culprit.
No longer on scholarship with a new coaching staff in Jacksonville, Thomas has been pushed down the depth chart in camp. According to Vito Stellino of the Florida Times Union, a “struggling” Thomas has been demoted behind second-year man Cecil Shorts in the receiver group. A fourth-round pick in last year’s draft, Shorts caught two of his twelve pass targets in ten games as a rookie. He dropped more balls (three) than he caught. And Shorts is ahead of Thomas now.
Thomas’ 2012 base salary of $1.45 million is guaranteed, and the Jaguars already paid him a $3.5 million roster bonus in March. In addition, $1 million of Thomas’ 2013 salary ($1.45 million) is guaranteed.
So if Thomas does stay on the Jaguars’ roster, it would probably be only for financial reasons. He’d likely be cut if Smith hadn’t signed off on what, in hindsight, has been a complete waste of money by the organization.