With two days to go until the window closes for using the franchise tag and no indication that any of the primary candidates for the tag are poised to strike a long-term deal, one of the biggest names due to hit the market most likely won’t.
It’s a “safe bet” the Broncos will be applying the franchise tag to receiver Demaryius Thomas, per a source with knowledge of the situation. While the two sides are talking, a deal currently isn’t expected in the next two days.
While the magnitude of the parties’ positions isn’t known, Thomas stands to earn $13 million fully guaranteed in 2015, if the tag is applied and if he signs the franchise tender. After the tag is applied, the Broncos and Thomas will have until July 15 to strike a long-term deal.
The eventual market for veteran receivers surely will be a major factor in negotiations. If the coming glut of older pass-catchers sees the willingness of teams to spend plummet in light of the trend toward game-ready rookie wideouts, the Broncos may be less willing to pump up the numbers in order to get a deal done.
If/when Demaryius Thomas gets the tag, the stage will be set for tight end Julius Thomas to hit the market. While many believe Julius is destined to no longer wear orange (yeah, I said it), quarterback Peyton Manning’s willingness to restructure possibly comes with a specific request to keep both Thomases around for 2015.
If that’s the directive, the smarter move could be to work out something with Demaryius Thomas before Monday, and then to use the franchise tag on Julius. If agent Todd France anticipates the receiver market will soften to the point that the Broncos may actually offer less by late March or beyond, maybe the best move will be to take the best offer they’re willing to make now. And maybe the Broncos’ best move will be to throw just enough extra on the pile to get Demaryius under contract — and then to keep Julius around with the tag.