New England Patriots

The New England Patriots’ depth problems at wide receiver could be solved — and solved in a big way — by the Denver Broncos’ Demaryius Thomas,  Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk theorized in a Friday conversation with Peter King.

“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 told King (via NBC Sports Boston). “He’s a guy that was drafted by [Patriots offensive coordinator] Josh McDaniels, he’s a guy who ultimately could be available — $8.5 million [salary for the 2018 season].”

On a team plagued by poor quarterback play — really since the departure of Peyton Manning following their Super Bowl 50 victory in 2016 — the 30-year-old Thomas is coming off a 949-yard, five-touchdown 2017 season with the Broncos. But Thomas had at least 90 catches and 1,000 yards in the five seasons that came before, so it’s not as if there’s been this catastrophic falloff for the 2010 first-round pick (taken by McDaniels two spots ahead of free agent wideout Dez Bryant).

Florio just believes that the Broncos, who are in the midst of a youth movement on the offensive side of the ball, and front office head John Elway could believe that Thomas’ pay is too much to handle given where the Denver depth chart is trending.

“We’ve seen John Elway do this, where he’ll squeeze a guy very, very late, maybe try to trade him, and if that all else fails, out he goes like T.J. Ward last year,” Florio noted. “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 [New England’s] depth chart. Late in the game, but still in time to make an impact with the Patriots.”

Such a move — whether via trade or with Thomas cut from Denver — would require significant contract restructuring or pay-cutting on the part of Thomas, who is due $8.5 million this year and $14 million next season on his current deal.

But it would absolutely help solve the Patriots’ undeniable talent issues at wideout.