Julius Thomas TE DEN 2 Days

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 6 Days

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 20 Days

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 1 Month6 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 1 Month

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 6 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 6 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.

Julius Thomas TE DEN 6 Months

Julius Thomas caught six passes for 76 yards in the Broncos' Divisional Round win over the Chargers.

Lined up at Z receiver, Thomas ripped off his first reception on a legit wideout route, beating Chargers LCB Shareece Wright's man coverage for a 16-yard gain. Thomas lost a fumble when S Jahleel Addae ripped the ball out at the end of a five-yard catch, but San Diego failed to capitalize when Nick Novak's 53-yard field goal try fell short. Overall, it was an uncharacteristically error-filled game for Orange Julius, who also had an ugly drop and committed a false start penalty, drawing the ire of Peyton Manning. Thomas did atone with two first-down receptions (17, 9 yards) to put the game on ice late in the fourth quarter. Expect more production in next week's bout with the Patriots.

Julius Thomas TE DEN 7 Months

Julius Thomas caught five passes for 36 yards in Sunday's Week 17 win over the Raiders.

Thomas was held out of the end-zone this week and didn't play in the second half with the Broncos resting their starters. He finishes his breakout season with 65 catches, 788 yards, and 12 touchdown despite only appearing in 14 games. The Broncos will take on the lowest remaining seed in the second round of the playoffs.

Julius Thomas TE DEN 7 Months

Julius Thomas caught six balls for 78 yards and a touchdown in the Broncos' Week 16 win over Houston.

Thomas' fourth-quarter touchdown football is headed to Canton, as it broke Tom Brady's 2007 single-season record as Peyton Manning's 51st of the year. Orange Julius has ever bit earned his nickname by finding pay dirt in 10 of his 13 appearances this season. The Broncos will close out the regular season against the Raiders in Week 17.