The Patriots have signed wide receiver Demaryius Thomas, adding another contender for playing time to their receiving corps. But it remains to be seen how much (if anything) Thomas has left.
The NFL Network reports indicate Thomas signed a one-year deal worth up to $6 million, but that might be misleading. It’s possible most of the money is tied to incentives that won’t be reached. And with this deal having just been signed, the amount of guaranteed money is unknown. (If the Patriots aren’t paying Thomas much money up front, they would have the ability to look at him throughout August and painlessly release him if they didn’t like what they saw.)
Thomas suffered an Achilles injury in December and isn’t certain to be 100 percent when training camp open. He’s also a 31-year-old receiver who simply isn’t nearly as explosive as he was in the past. Over the last two years he’s averaged only 11.5 yards per catch. Among players with at least 100 receptions, only 11 have averaged fewer yards per catch (and all but two were slot receivers).
With less speed, Thomas nowadays looks more like Brandon Marshall – a big receiver who needs to rely on his size. He doesn’t get much separation, so more balls turn into contested situations (see photo).
|YARDS PER CATCH (2017-18)|
If we wind it back to the 2012-13 seasons, Thomas was one of the league’s most feared deep threats – a big, fast Julio type who would consistently make plays downfield. He averaged 4 more yards per catch at that time. Over those two seasons, only seven receivers averaged more yards per catch.
|YARDS PER CATCH (2012-13)|
|Cecil Shorts III||121||1,756||14.5||10|
|Steve Smith Sr.||137||1,919||14.0||8|
The Patriots have a long history of kicking the tires on older receivers. Joey Galloway, Torry Holt, Reggie Wayne and Chad Johnson come to mind. To me, Thomas looks like one of those kind of guys.
New England in 2007 traded for a 30-year-old receiver who worked out very well: Randy Moss. So they haven’t missed on all of their older receiver acquisitions. But if I were walking into a draft today, I wouldn’t think there would be any chance that I would select Thomas.