Demaryius Thomas was signed by the New England Patriots in April as roster depth at wide receiver and perhaps some insurance if Josh Gordon doesn’t return from his indefinite drug suspension.
At first glance, Thomas appeared to be an addition with considerable upside. He’s a five-time Pro Bowler with 688 career catches for 9,330 yards and 62 touchdowns. In three of his nine NFL seasons, Thomas notched 10 or more scoring receptions.
However, Thomas is coming off a torn Achilles tendon suffered last December. As a result, the Patriots signed him to a less expensive contract that lessens their financial risk. Thomas’ one-year deal has a $1.2 million base salary and $150,000 signing bonus. With roster bonuses and incentives, he could earn $2.9 million. But he would have to compile numbers that he hasn’t reached in the past three seasons.
Between the low risk for cutting Thomas and a roster already stocked with at least six capable receivers going into training camp, it’s possible that the veteran could be squeezed off the depth chart before the regular season begins. That’s the conclusion drawn by NBC Sports Boston’s Phil Perry.
For one thing, Thomas may not be healthy enough to play during the preseason and thus might not be ready for Week 1. Additionally, he faces a possible suspension at the beginning of the season for his involvement in an auto accident which resulted in injuries to a passenger. Thomas pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges in March.
Yet the reality is that the Patriots have plenty of receivers, led by Julian Edelman. Joining Edelman on the depth chart are No. 1 draft pick N’Keal Harry, Phillip Dorsett, Dontrelle Inman, Matthew Slater and Maurice Harris. Add undrafted rookies Ryan Davis and Jakobi Meyers to the mix, as well.
Not all of those players will make the final roster, of course, but that’s quite a crowd in front of Thomas. And a veteran coming off injury likely isn’t going to play special teams, which is what the Patriots’ coaching staff would require from a receiver low on the depth chart.