By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — For whatever reason, the release of Kenny Britt this week sent many folks in New England into a bit of a frenzy. Many of them turned their eyes toward Dez Bryant, the highly talented receiver who remains unemployed here in the late days of August.
Now, while it may not make tremendous sense for such a reaction to come from the release of a player who never contributed to the Patriots, the response nevertheless indicated that some people covering and following the Patriots might be getting a little bit antsy regarding the Patriots’ receiver situation. But they may have been looking at the wrong veteran receiver to fix the problem.
Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio floated an eye-catching theory on Friday, in which he suggested that the Broncos may end up trading wide receiver Demaryius Thomas. And, Florio speculated, the Patriots would make an interesting partner.
“Now there may be nothing to this whatsoever, but I’ve detected just a weird sense coming out of Denver as it relates to Demaryius Thomas,” Florio said in a conversation with Peter King. “He’s a guy that was drafted by [Josh] McDaniels, he’s a guy who ultimately could be available, $8.5 million. We’ve seen John Elway do this, where he’ll squeeze a guy very, very late, maybe try to trade him, and if all else fails, out he goes like T.J. Ward last year. But with the young receivers there — Courtland Sutton for example — if these guys can develop and Elway looks at it and says, ‘$8.5 million, that’s too much to pay,’ it would not shock me if a guy like Thomas ends up joining that [Patriots] depth chart. Late in the game, but still in time to make an impact for the Patriots.”
King ultimately said he doesn’t believe such a trade will happen before the season started, but he also offered a caveat.
“Nothing will shock me with John Elway at all, because I think he always does what Bill Belichick does. He’ll do what he thinks is best for the team, even if it’s a revolutionary thought,” King said.
Thomas has spent all eight of his NFL seasons in Denver, topping 1,000 receiving yards for five straight seasons from 2012-16. He caught 83 passes for 949 yards and five touchdowns last season. While those numbers may not be necessarily eye-popping, Thomas would have led all Patriots in receptions, ranked second in yards for wide receivers, and tied for second-most touchdowns among wide receivers on last year’s Patriots with the same numbers. Thomas was also working with one of the worst quarterback groups in the entire NFL.
Truth be told, as we’ve seen quite clearly with Eric Decker this summer, the McDaniels connection for some Broncos is overstated. For one, McDaniels’ offensive philosophy and schemes have developed over the past eight years. Secondly, and much more significantly, Denver’s quarterback when McDaniels coached Thomas was a man by the name of Tim Tebow. Having experience in a Tebow-led offense doesn’t exactly prepare a player in any way to play in a Tom Brady-led offense.
Nevertheless, the Patriots’ receiving depth chart is a bit unimpressive at the moment, particularly if you cross out the name of suspended receiver Julian Edelman for four weeks. Would a Denver-New England trade for Thomas be considered a likely event, or even an occurrence with a slight chance of happening? No, probably not. But Florio wouldn’t throw such a nugget out to the world if there wasn’t something to it, so for the time being, this one can be classified as slightly worth watching.