By Zack Kelberman
DENVER (247 SPORTS) – When Demaryius Thomas pulls into Broncos Stadium at Mile High on Sunday — this time as the enemy — he’ll be greeted warmly.
The Broncos have affixed a “Thank You” banner for the now-Houston Texans wide receiver from the stadium ahead of the teams’ Week 9 meeting.
In a wholly expected move, Denver shipped Thomas to Houston for a 2019 fourth-round draft pick, ending an accomplished nine(ish)-year Broncos career. The trade concluded weeks of swirling speculation which the 30-year-old revealed had an adverse effect on his Week 8 performance — his last with Denver.
“I know it’s a business,” Thomas told Houston media. “I kinda knew, but I just took it like it’s another day.”
Amazingly, Thomas’ inaugural Texans game will come in Denver. He said earlier this week that it’ll be “tough” and “very strange” to immediately face his former team, but he’s embracing the challenge.
“Change can be good,” he said.
As many as four suitors — the Texans, Patriots, Eagles and Titans — expressed significant interest in acquiring Thomas prior to Tuesday’s NFL trade deadline. General manager John Elway held firm on fourth-round-or-better compensation, and Houston was willing to pony up.
Despite some initial apprehension from Elway, who paused at sending Thomas to an upcoming opponent, the mutually beneficial deal was struck.
“I think that the goal was—we were not hell-bent on trading Demaryius,” Elway said in a Tuesday press conference. “If the value was there and if we felt the value was there, we felt that it could help us that way as far as the draft the next. We thought that with the young guys behind him that we could make up for the space that he would leave. We got the value that we thought was fair, and that was the most important thing. It’s never easy when you trade a guy that’s been a household name here for a long time and done a lot of great things, not only on the football field but also in the community and was a good man. Plus, it’s a good spot for Demaryius. He’s going to a good football team that’s in a pennant race where he’s going. It’ll be good for him, too.”
Thomas reportedly will be in the starting lineup for Houston, working opposite All-Everything stud DeAndre Hopkins. Before he aims to drive a stake through the 3-5 Broncos’ season, he’ll receive a moment of remembrance with a pregame video montage of his greatest moments in orange and blue.