BOSTON (CBS) — The Patriots signed veteran receiver Demaryius Thomas on Tuesday, a somewhat desperate move for a team in desperate need of depth at the position. But as is usually the case when the Patriots sign a veteran player, the move comes with very little risk and could pay off big-time if it works out.
The NFL Network’s Albert Breer has tweeted out the parameters of Thomas’ one-year pact with the Patriots, and as expected, it’s mostly performance incentives for the 31-year-old receiver.
As ESPN’s Field Yates reported earlier Wednesday, Thomas will carry a cap hit of just under $3 million.
This is very much a “prove it” deal for Thomas. His base salary is lower than what the Patriots just gave Philip Dorsett this offseason, who he’ll be battling with on the depth chart for the No. 2 receiver spot behind Julian Edelman (barring a Josh Gordon comeback).
Given that Thomas, 31, suffered the second Achilles injury of his career in December, there’s no guarantee that he even makes New England’s 53-man roster out of camp. He’s seen his production dip over the last three seasons, though you can just as easily point to Denver’s poor quarterback situation on that front. It’s hard to put up decent numbers when guys like Trevor Siemian, Paxton Lynch and Case Keenum throwing you the football.
But Thomas wasn’t an immediate fit with the Texans following a mid-season trade to Houston last season, and he finished the year with just 677 receiving yards, his lowest total since his first two years in the league.
If Thomas doesn’t fit with the Patriots, or is slowed by his Achilles injury, the team can move on without too much of a cap hit lingering. They likely aren’t done adding to their receiver depth chart, either, with 12 picks in the upcoming NFL Draft.
But if Thomas hits his incentives and plays like a five-time Pro Bowler again, it will work out for both the Patriots and the player in the end.