Denver Broncos wide receiver Demaryius Thomas revealed he recently expected to retire after the 2018 or 2019 season as a result of a chronic hip issue, according to an NFL.com feature published Wednesday.
A ninth-year veteran and four-time Pro Bowler, Thomas told NFL.com’s James Palmer that as recently as the end of last season, he planned to retire after nine or 10 NFL campaigns because of a partially torn labrum in his hip that continued to worsen in 2016 and 2017.
However, the 30-year-old has since made radical changes in his diet after having his blood tested, and he now says he feels like he can have a 15- or 16-year career.
“Like, for real, I’m going to be like Larry Fitzgerald,” Thomas told Palmer, alluding to the 15th-year veteran and 11-time Pro Bowler. “Maybe even more. It just depends, you know? I mean,, tomorrow I could finish my career off of one crazy injury. But yeah, my mindset has changed.”
Thomas has started every possible game over the last six seasons, but nagging injuries have kept him from playing more than 90 percent of the offensive snaps in four of those years, including the last three. After playing 90.5 percent of snaps in 2014, Thomas dipped to 84.5 percent in ‘15, 82.3 percent in ‘16 and 78.9 percent last season.
“For, like, the past two years, for real, it’s been my neck and my hip,” Thomas said. “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.’
“...Like, for real, with all the problems with my hip, especially with my hip, it was like, sometimes I couldn’t even stop [to complete a route].”
Thomas told reporters last offseason that his hips were improved, but he now says the progress is much more pronounced. He dropped from 228 pounds to 212 this summer while changing his diet, and has since build his weight back up.
Thomas’ numbers in 2017 (83 catches, 949 yards, five touchdowns) marked his lowest since 2011, and the Broncos drafted a pair of wide receivers in April’s draft. Courtland Sutton (second round) and DaeSean Hamilton (fourth round) have both impressed in camp, with Sutton drawing rave reviews as the team’s third wideout.
But Thomas says he bristles when fans insist the team is already preparing to replace him.
“It be hurting me sometimes, man,” Thomas said. “I love my young guys ... but [fans are] putting my young guys over me already, and they ain’t even played a down. I be like, alright, cool. It’s whatever. Everybody got their own opinion. I let it slide. I used to not let it slide.”
Thomas, who turns 31 on Christmas Day, will make $8.5 million this season and is on the books for $14 million in 2019, the final year of a five-year, $70 million pact signed in July of 2015. There were whispers this spring that he or Emmanuel Sanders (due $8.25 million in 2018, $10.25 million in 2019) could be released or traded, but both were kept.
A first-round pick in 2010, Thomas is the Broncos’ longest tenured player, one year ahead of linebacker Von Miller and cornerback Chris Harris Jr.
—Field Level Media