By Zack Kelberman
(247 SPORTS) – Emmanuel Sanders isn’t the only Denver Broncos wide receiver to doubt his football future.
In a revealing interview with NFL Media’s James Palmer, Demaryius Thomas admitted that he considered retirement due to a series of recent injuries that severely hampered his effectiveness.
“For, like, the past two years, for real, it’s been my neck and my hip,” Thomas told Palmer. “It was just times I couldn’t compete my best. And you know, sometimes, I remember one game we were playing the Patriots, and the corner (Logan Ryan) called it out. He said, ‘You’re not yourself.’ And I was like, ‘Man, I’m doing whatever I can to try to get attention.’ ”
Thomas sustained a torn labrum in his hip during the 2016 regular season opener. He gutted through the pain, appearing in all 32 games across the last two seasons, but his production took a massive hit. Things crescendoed in 2017, when he finished with just 83 receptions for 949 yards — the first time he failed to break 1,000 yards since 2011 — and five touchdowns.
According to Palmer, Thomas believed that he would hang up his cleats within the next two years.
“Like, for real, with all the problems with my hip, especially with my hip, it was like, sometimes I couldn’t even stop,” he said.
But that sort of thought is behind Thomas, whose mindset shifted drastically with a change in diet. He shed a few pounds, dropping from 228 to 212, and began utilizing a personal at-home chef to supplement his increased workout program.
Pain-free and feeling “exponentially improved,” Thomas, 30, plans to extend his time in the league as long as possible.
“Now I’m thinking, 15 or 16 (years),” Thomas said with a smile. “Like, for real, I’m going to be like Larry Fitzgerald. Maybe even more. It just depends, you know? I mean, s—, tomorrow I could finish my career off of one crazy injury. But yeah, my mindset has changed.”
Whether Thomas finishes his career in the Mile High City isn’t totally up to him, though. He was retained for 2018 despite a $12.03 million salary cap number and $4 million option bonus, and is due to count $17.53 million against the cap in 2019, the final year of his current contract. Financials aside, the team also drafted his successors, Courtland Sutton and DaeSean Hamilton, both of whom have shined in training camp.
Knowing the NFL stands for “Not For Long,” Thomas sees the writing on the wall but isn’t necessarily bothered by it. Not anymore. He can control what he can control.
“I love my young guys … but they putting my young guys over me already, and they ain’t even played a down,” he said. “I be like, alright, cool. It’s whatever. Everybody got their own opinion. I let it slide. I used to not let it slide. It used to, like, bother my game. So now it’s like, it is what it is. It’s like, (I have) no cares about it. I’m going to go out every week, I’m going to go out every day and I’m going to work my ass off every day to be the best I’m going to be. If my best ain’t good enough for here, then you never know.”