Denver Broncos UFA Priorities: #6 Julius Thomas, Will Montgomery – Mile High Report (blog)
Continuing our series on which Broncos FA’s should be re-signed and which should should be given their walkin’ papers.
2014 Salary: 1.2 million w/escalators (reached) to 1.925 million
Projected 2015 Salary: 1-5-2.5 million
2014 Role: Depth, eventual starter
2015 Role: Incumbent starter
Not surprisingly, Montgomery appears at the very bottom of the staffer’s lists of players to resign. Why? He did an admirable job stepping in for Manny Ramirez. Though he struggled some in run blocking, that can be attributed to all the moving parts the Broncos employed throughout the season. Overall, he finished with a +4.9 grade and ranked 15th among all centers according to pro football focus. He managed to keep Peyton Manning relatively clean allowing just one sack and three hurries.
The wild card is that Montgomery was a starter for Mike Shanahan back in 2012 and was the 5th highest ranked center in the league. Monty Jr. helped lead a zone blocking system that catapulted rookie RB Alfred Morris to 1600+ rushing yards.
At the very least Montgomery will provide solid veteran depth. The price should be right for Montgomery to stick on the Broncos roster in 2015.
2014 Salary: 741K
Projected 2014 Salary: Greater than 8.0 million per season
2014 Role: Starter
2015 Role: Starter
Where it was surprising for a player like Montgomery to “make the cut” on the very fringe, it was quite the opposite for Julius Thomas. Thomas should have been an absolute lock to be resigned, regardless of number this offseason. He started off white hot recording 9 touchdown receptions in the first 5 games of the season. Outside of that, his contributions were slim to none. In the toughest six game stretch of the season, and largely due to yet another injury, Julius notched 15 catches (about 3 per game) with three touchdowns.
Not only did his contributions in the passing game diminish, but his run blocking was absolutely atrocious. In order to play TE in a zone blocking scheme, in order to play TE for Gary Kubiak, you must be a willing and able blocker. Julius is neither.
In my opinion, Julius Thomas as a player embodies everything that went wrong with this team in 2014. I wouldn’t be surprised if he is one of the ones Demaryius was speaking of when mentioning there were some guys in the locker room who weren’t interested in going to New England to play the Patriots.
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