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NFL free agent profile: WR Michael Thomas

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By: Ian St. Clair

Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images

Should the Broncos look to add a veteran receiver who has familiarity with Sean Payton and the offense?

Wide receiver isn’t at the top of the list for Denver Broncos needs.

But veteran playmakers who know the Broncos offense could prove valuable. Add in a receiver who is familiar with Sean Payton, and this is a move that could make sense.

Michael Thomas checks all those boxes, but it also comes with risk. That’s if there’s even interest from either party.

Thomas played 10 games in 2023, netting 39 receptions for 448 yards and one touchdown. The stat that stands out most: Thomas once again found himself on injured reserve with a knee injury. That’s the fourth straight season the veteran receiver has been on IR.

Player Profile

Height: 6-3
Weight: 212 pounds
Age: 30
Experience: Eight seasons

Why it makes sense

It’s no secret that Payton likes familiarity. After all, 19 former New Orleans Saints are with the Broncos. That includes coaches, players and executives.

So Denver targeting and potentially signing Thomas isn’t out of the question.

Thomas had the best years of his career in Payton’s offense. Namely the 2019 season when Thomas was named the Offensive Player of the Year and caught 149 passes.

Of course, the Saints had a Hall of Fame quarterback in Drew Brees. And with the question surrounding the QB position in Denver, that might make Thomas disinterested.

But whoever Payton nabs as his quarterback, that player will need weapons. The Broncos need more depth and production from the receiver position, so a player like Thomas would fill a need.

Why it doesn’t make sense

As noted earlier, Thomas hasn’t been healthy since the 2019 season. Starting in 2020, he’s spent time on IR every season since.

He’s also going to be 31 next Sunday. That’s not “old” by any stretch of the imagination, but this is the NFL and he’s been injured the last four seasons.

And there’s still a chance Thomas stays in New Orleans. He could sign a deal with the Saints before NFL free agency begins.

If Thomas does hit free agency, it’s not certain that Payton and the Broncos would be interested. Or have the budget to make it happen, depending on what happens with the quarterback.

With Denver’s other needs, especially on defense, signing a player like Thomas doesn’t make much sense.

Final thoughts

The Broncos lack depth and production at receiver, so it must be addressed this offseason. Whether that happens via free agency or the NFL Draft.

Thomas could bring playmaking experience who also knows Payton and the offense. If Thomas is healthy and on the field, he’s an elite receiver. The problem is he hasn’t been healthy since 2020 and will be north of 30 when this next season starts.

If Thomas hits the open market, the most likely scenario is that both sides test the waters and gauge the interest.

There’s no doubt familiarity sparks the discussion, it’s just a matter of it catching and expanding. That could happen if Thomas doesn’t like what’s being offered and tries to go with what he knows. That’s just not likely to happen.

Originally posted on Mile High Report