Julius Thomas TE DEN 5 Days

Thomas had four catches on four targets for 32 yards in Saturday's preseason game against the Texans.

The expectations for Thomas were already high after his breakout 2013 season, especially with Eric Decker signing with the Jets in the offseason. With the news that Wes Welker could miss Week 1 after he suffered a concussion Saturday, Thomas could be the beneficiary of even more targets, particularly in the red zone.

Julius Thomas TE DEN 12 Days

Thomas had three catches on three targets for 35 yards and a touchdown during Sunday's preseason game against the 49ers.

Thomas dealt with a bruised thigh earlier this month, but there was nothing Sunday that indicated it's still bothering him. As long as he's healthy, Thomas is an elite fantasy tight end, who could see even more red zone targets this season with Eric Decker now with the Jets.

Julius Thomas TE DEN 1 Month

Julius Thomas spent time working with Tony Gonzalez this offseason.

Thomas and Gonzalez live near each other in the Los Angeles area. "I picked his brain on, what are sort of the things you're looking for?" Thomas said. "Not just technique, but what's going through your mind during plays? What do you focus on? How do you prepare for the day? His routine." By all accounts, Orange Julius has not rested on his breakout 2013 season that saw him finish as fantasy's No. 3 tight end. With Eric Decker gone and Thomas in a contract year, there's room for significant statistical growth.

Julius Thomas TE DEN 1 Month

Julius Thomas told Larry Brown Sports he "absolutely" wants to stay in Denver long term.

Thomas is entering a contract year, and GM John Elway has made it clear he doesn't value J.T. at Jimmy Graham's level. Thomas doesn't seem to mind. "Absolutely," said the ascending 26-year-old. "I love Denver. It's a great city. I really love that franchise, fan base, I would look forward to being there for a long time." Thomas could be a candidate for the franchise tag in 2015.

Julius Thomas TE DEN 1 Month

Broncos GM John Elway made it clear to USA Today that he doesn't believe contract-year TE Julius Thomas deserves Jimmy Graham money.

The Saints signed Graham to a four-year, $40 million deal with $21 million guaranteed. "Even though Julius had a tremendous year for us, he's only (played) 23 games," said Elway. "We want Julius to be a Bronco for a long time and we think he has tremendous upside, but he's not at that level." In other words, if Julius isn't willing to accept something of a hometown discount, the Broncos would feel comfortable letting "Orange Julius" play out his contract year absent a long-term commitment. They could franchise tag him in 2015. Thomas caught 21 fewer passes than Graham in 2013, for 427 fewer yards and four fewer touchdowns. He's also used far more often as an in-line tight end than Graham, so the Broncos could win a tight end/wide receiver arbitration case if things got that far.

Julius Thomas TE DEN 2 Months

Julius Thomas said he'll be used "a lot more creatively" this season.

It's easy to forget that Thomas played just one season of college football at Portland State and entered last season with one catch in two NFL seasons. He's still a developing prospect despite going off for 65-788-12 last season. "I think there are a lot of things that our offense wanted to do with me, but you can only learn so much in one year," he said. Now entering his second year as a starter, Thomas will be asked to expand his route tree and help compensate for the loss of Eric Decker -- especially in the red zone. Another 12-15 touchdowns for Orange Julius is well within reach.

Julius Thomas TE DEN 2 Months6 Comments

Broncos TE Julius Thomas said he's monitoring the arbitration case between the Saints and Jimmy Graham.

Thomas is in the final year of his rookie deal and could be franchised next offseason. Like Graham, he lines up in multiple spots on offense and will likely try to make a similar case if Graham's grievance is successful. The Broncos have approached Thomas about a contract extension, so the decision has the potential to impact long-term talks. "I've kind of been keeping an eye on that situation, obviously, because it could probably come back to affect a lot of us tight ends," Thomas said. "I think that if you're a guy that makes plays, that's how you should be valued."

Julius Thomas TE DEN 3 Months

The Broncos have approached contract-year TE Julius Thomas about an extension.

GM John Elway is trying to secure both Julius and Demaryius Thomas to long-term deals before training camp. If he can get one locked up, it'd free up next year's franchise tag as a possibility for the other. Julius is coming off a breakout season and should see even more targets with Eric Decker now out of the picture. The Denver Post believes Julius could be seeking $7 million annually.

Julius Thomas TE DEN 7 Months

The Seahawks held Julius Thomas to four catches for 27 yards on six targets in Super Bowl 48.

His first two receptions went for three and five yards as Seattle let Denver catch short stuff, but gave up little deep and tackled relentlessly around the line of scrimmage. Thomas added an 11-yard gain late in the first half, but never put a real dent in the Seahawks' defense as WLB K.J. Wright and SS Kam Chancellor put drapes on "Orange Julius" in coverage. Still, Thomas broke out in a major way in 2013, his first season as a full-time player, scoring 12 touchdowns in 14 regular season games to finish as the No. 3 fantasy tight end. He'll be in the second- and third-round mix as a 2014 fantasy pick.

Julius Thomas TE DEN 7 Months

Julius Thomas caught eight balls for 85 yards in Denver's AFC title game win over the Patriots.

Orange Julius had four deep red-zone targets, but two fell incomplete, the third came on a shovel pass where he was tackled at the two-yard line, and Thomas dropped the fourth. Two 14-yard gains and a 37-yarder over the top of Patriots LB Jamie Collins in the second half buoyed Thomas' stats, but this was mostly a Demaryius/Decker day when the game was still in doubt. Look for more impact from Denver's basketball-player tight end in the Super Bowl.