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Demaryius Thomas: Career Retrospective

Demaryius Thomas announced his retirement from football after 10 seasons this Monday in a video statement released by the Denver Broncos.

The Broncos’ first-round pick in 2010, Thomas has the second-most receiving yards (9,055) and touchdown catches (60) in franchise history and was a key member of Denver’s 2016 Super Bowl roster. Let’s take a look back at his legendary career.

2010 NFL Draft

NEW YORK - APRIL 22:  Demaryius Thomas from the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets poses with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell as they hold up a Denver Broncos jersey after Thomas was drafted by the Broncos number 22 overall during the the first round of the 2010 NFL Draft at Radio City Music Hall on April 22, 2010 in New York City.  (Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Demaryius Thomas;Roger Goodell Photo: Jeff Zelevansky, Getty Images / 2010 Getty Images
Jeff Zelevansky, Getty Images

The Broncos selected Thomas No. 22 overall in the 2010 NFL Draft as the first receiver off the board. Denver took a risk by passing on the more experienced Dez Bryant — Thomas was not a major part of the offense at Georgia Tech and never recorded more than 50 receptions in a season. It’s safe to say that risk paid off.

Early Career: 2010-2011

Demaryius Thomas

Demaryius Thomas’ inexperience limited him early on and kept him from a starting role in his first two seasons. He had only 22 catches for 283 yards as a rookie. He got more playing time in 2011 but struggled with consistency: he was targeted 70 times but only caught 32 passes. The Broncos offense as a whole was stagnant with Kyle Orton and Tim Tebow behind center, but that would soon change.

The Peyton Manning Years: 2012-2016

Denver Broncos news: Peyton Manning works out with Demaryius Thomas

When the Broncos signed Peyton Manning before the 2012 season, they formed one of the most productive quarterback-receiver duos in the league. Thomas put up 1,434 receiving yards in their first year together and made his first of three consecutive trips to the Pro Bowl.

In 2013, their chemistry helped produce one of the most prolific offensive season in NFL history. The Broncos as a whole totaled 7,317 yards, the second-most ever. Manning broke the records for passing yards and touchdown passes in a single season, and Thomas led the team with 1,430 yards and 14 touchdowns. It all culminated in a trip to Super Bowl XLVIII. The Broncos came up short against Seattle’s ‘Legion of Boom’ defense, but Thomas set a Super Bowl record with 13 receptions.

Thomas cemented his status as one of the league’s top playmakers with a career-high 1,619 yards in 2014, a franchise record. Denver, though, did not return to the Super Bowl until the 2015 season. Though Thomas was largely a nonfactor in those playoffs, he earned his first and only championship ring in a 24-10 defeat of the Carolina Panthers in Super Bowl 50.

End of Career: 2016-2020

Texans WR Demaryius Thomas wants to keep playing
Justin Edmonds/Getty Images

Thomas was never quite the same after Manning’s retirement. 2016 was his fifth consecutive and final 1,000-yard season, He was traded to the Houston Texans for a fourth-round pick at the 2018 trade deadline, ending his days as a No. 1 receiver. The Texans released him after that season. He then signed with the Patriots, who traded him to the Jets before the season even began for a sixth-round pick. He found some success in New York, starting 10 games, but was third on the depth chart. The Jets released him and he sat out 2020 as an unsigned free agent.

Is Adam Vinatieri the Greatest Kicker of All Time?

Legendary kicker Adam Vinatieri retired from football after 24 seasons this Wednesday, wrapping up the third-longest career in NFL history. The 48-year-old played 10 seasons with the Patriots and 14 with the Colts and is the NFL’s all-time leading scorer.

Vinatieri is the most beloved special teams player of his generation, but is he the greatest kicker in league history?

Morten Andersen and Jan Stenerud are the only two athletes in the Pro Football Hall of Fame who played exclusively kicker. Assuming that Vinatieri joins them in five years — which he most certainly will — there will not be many kickers that can claim to be better than the New England icon.

Impact

Adam’s really, in my mind, the best of all time.

Bill Belichick

The Patriots’ success over the past two decades is usually credited only to Bill Belichick and Tom Brady, but there would be no dynasty without Vinatieri. He is the only player to kick two Super-Bowl-winning field goals: a 48-yarder in 2002 and a 41-yarder in 2004.

The Patriots would not have even made it to the 2002 Super Bowl without Vinatieri. He kicked a 45-yard field goal to end that year’s AFC Divisional Round to overtime and booted in another to seal the win — with five inches of snow on the ground. At the time, Belichick called it “by far the greatest kick I have ever seen.”

Belichick doubled down on his praise this Thursday, noting how Vinatieri’s calmness in high-pressure situations helped set a tone for the entire Patriots dynasty.

“Adam’s really, in my mind, the best of all time,” Belichick said. “His consistency, his ability to handle clutch situations and make the biggest kicks and just the longevity of his career, I mean it was a quarter of a century and the consistency is just remarkable.”

Statistics

Adam Vinatieri retires with an impressive stat line that reflects his consistency and skill in addition to his longevity.

Points: 2,673 (1st all-time)

Field Goals Made: 599 (1st)

Extra Points Made: 874 (2nd)

Field Goal Percentage: 83.78% (25th)

The main argument against Vinatieri’s status as the best ever is his field goal percentage. While he was never as accurate as modern-day greats like Justin Tucker (90.65%) and Robbie Gould (86.58%), those players have yet to prove they can maintain their skill level as they age. Vinatieri’s 96.8 field goal percentage in 2014 led the league and was the best ever by a player over 40.

More importantly, Vinatieri unseated Andersen as the NFL’s all-time leading scorer while playing one fewer season. Though some active kickers (led by Stephen Gostkowski) are on pace to break the record again, they are playing in an era of high scoring and constant extra point attempts. It is unlikely that anyone will match Vinatieri’s sheer staying power and universal respect.

Image courtesy of Michael Conroy/Associated Press

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