The side effect of a losing record midway through the season is trade rumors, and the Denver Broncos are dealing with plenty of them.
Most notably is wide receiver Demaryius Thomas. He has been the most talked about player who could be wearing a different uniform next week. Thomas, who is second in franchise history in many receiving categories, has expressed a desire to stay with the team that drafted him in 2010, but his fate is in the hands of general manager John Elway.
Had the Broncos been able to beat the Chiefs on Sunday instead of losing 30-23, things might be different. A 4-4 record looks a lot better than 3-5, but it’s an uphill battle to just make the playoffs with the AFC West division all but lost.
“He’s a good player and people want good players on their team, so everyone is going to want to call about four or five of our guys,” head coach Vance Joseph said Monday. “I’m not surprised teams are calling, but it’s no guarantee he’s going to get moved. He gets the business side. We’ve communicated clearly for the last week and he’s been a great pro for us.”
Joseph said Elway has not talked to him about any possible trades.
“He has not. Obviously, that’s John’s department and I’m sure he’s getting calls and he’s probably making some calls,” Joseph said. “But, he has not. It’s my job to coach the team and to coach the players. That’s my focus.”
Thomas, for his part, said after Sunday’s game there was a “50-50” chance he would be traded. He’s 30 (he turns 31 on Christmas) and has a contract through 2019 with a cap hit of $17.5 million in the last year of the deal.
If he is dealt before the deadline it is a signal that the Broncos accept that 2018 won’t be a playoff season and will give rookie Courtland Sutton more opportunities. Sutton has made some big catches the last few weeks and has emerged as a viable option for quarterback Case Keenum.
Thomas’ teammates aren’t ready to give up on the season, or want to see Thomas go.
“I love D.T.,” cornerback Chris Harris Jr. said. “He’s been a great teammate to me and we’ve had great competition for eight years that I’ve been here. I know he’s going out there and he’s giving it his all. I’ve won a lot of games with him, so I know I can continue to win them with him.”
FLAG DAY: The Broncos were hit with 10 penalties for 83 yards in Sunday’s loss, a few of which wiped out big gains. Denver averages seven penalties a game, which ranks 21st in the NFL, and it has contributed to the team’s 3-5 record.
“We’ve got to fix it. It’s not coming back around or getting helped by anybody else. We have to play cleaner football,” Harris said. “We have to fix that and we can’t let this continue to happen. What week are we at now? Week 9? We can’t continue to have that same type of burn-the-football and not play clean.”
ON A POSITIVE NOTE…: Phillip Lindsay kept up his strong play to start his NFL career. He got his first start Sunday and rushed for 95 yards on 18 carries and had a touchdown run. Lindsay is just the third rookie running back to start for Denver, and he became the first undrafted rookie back to make an NFL start since Washington’s Rob Kelley in Week 17 of 2016.
“I just showed that I love the game and that I love playing football,” Lindsay said after Sunday’s loss. “That’s it. For me, it’s just about going out there and playing football and being there for my teammates.”