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Elway: We want to keep Julius Thomas, but he’s no Jimmy Graham

Bobby Wagner, Julius Thomas

Bobby Wagner, Julius Thomas


Broncos tight end Julius Thomas was glad the Saints came to an agreement with tight end Jimmy Graham, perhaps because Thomas thinks having Graham’s deal in place will put him in better position to get a new contract worked out with the Broncos. But Broncos boss John Elway wants to make one thing clear: Thomas won’t be getting a Jimmy Graham type contract.

“Even though Julius had a tremendous year for us, he’s only [played] 23 games. We want Julius to be a Bronco for a long time and we think he has tremendous upside, but he’s not at that level,” Elway told USA Today.

Elway is right: Although Thomas had a breakout year last year, catching 65 passes for 788 yards and 12 touchdowns, he’s a long way from earning a contract like the deal the Saints gave Graham, which will pay $21 million over the next two seasons.

Elway plans to work on contract negotiations with both Thomas and wide receiver Demaryius Thomas during training camp, but he doesn’t want to see those negotiations extend into the regular season.

“Nothing is going to get done before camp, but we’ll keep talking to them in camp,” Elway said. “I’m never going to go into the season, but the first couple of weeks, we can continue to talk about it. After the second week of the preseason, we’ll want to have had something done, one way or another.”

The Broncos may get something done with Thomas, but they won’t overpay him by putting him in the same pay range as Graham.