ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Saying he was “empty still” in the wake of the trade that sent him from the Denver Broncos to the Houston Texans last week, Demaryius Thomas said Monday he was misled by the Broncos about the possibility of a trade, was asked to surrender playing time in favor of the team’s rookie wide receivers and that it was “heartbreaking” he was not a team captain.
Thomas made his comments during an appearance on the team’s radio partner, 760 AM, with former Broncos Rod Smith and Ray Crockett. Thomas, who Broncos president of operations/general manager John Elway said is a future Broncos Ring of Famer, is just behind Smith in most of the franchise’s major receiving categories.
Thomas finished Sunday’s game against the Broncos with three receptions for 61 yards as the Texans won 19-17.
Before last Tuesday’s trade, however, Thomas had expressed frustration that news of the possibility of the deal had gotten out and that what the Broncos had planned had not been communicated to him. At the time, he was the longest-tenured played on the team.
“Monday before [the trade] Vance Joseph walked up to me and he said, ‘Don’t listen to the trade talk; it’s not true,'” Thomas said. “… When he said that to me, I said, ‘How is that not true? My agent called me today and said Elway wanted a fifth-round pick for me.’ So, are we telling stories to each other now? I thought we were going to men about this.”
Thomas added: “I knew something was going to happen.”
On not being selected as one of the team’s two captains on offense — quarterback Case Keenum and center Matt Paradis were announced as offensive captains — Thomas said: “And then, on the other [end], like, man, I’ve been here nine years and I can’t even be a captain. … I was on guys and I guess they didn’t want it that way. But then I had a meeting, I was like, ‘OK, I’m gonna be a captain again,’ I go to a meeting room and it’s like every player came to me and were like, ‘How you not a captain? We picked you.’ … It was heartbreaking.”
Thomas also said on the program that he was told by wide receivers coach Zach Azzanni he was going to surrender playing time so the Broncos could give more snaps to rookie wide receivers Courtland Sutton and DaeSean Hamilton. Thomas said he was the only receiver who was told his playing time was going to be reduced.
“And I don’t understand that because I never cried about getting the ball,” Thomas said on the show. “I didn’t get pissed about nothing … it just hurt me. I’m emotional. I’m empty. I’m empty still.”
Thomas also called it “honor from Day 1 to yesterday” to play in Denver and that “I love everybody and always will. I love the city still and I’m always going to love the city because that’s where it began.”
Joseph was asked Monday at his usual day-after-game media gathering about comments from Thomas to the NFL Network critiquing the Broncos’ conservative approach at the end of Sunday’s game. The Broncos ended up with a 51-yard kick for Brandon McManus on the game’s last play when they may have had time to run an additional play or two had the offense moved with some additional urgency.
McManus pushed the kick right and the Broncos fell to 3-6.
“I think it’s just a player who won a game, who was excited to win the game,” Joseph said. “Again, that’s not my focus or concern right now — as far as who’s saying what and the high school conversations of after-the-game facts. We can’t be concerned about that. That’s a winning team. They won the game, so good for them, but I can’t be concerned about that ‘he said, she said’ stuff.”
The day following the trade, Elway said: “With how Demaryius has carried himself since he’s been here — I think it’s an end for him and us. I think, as I told him, he’ll always be a Bronco. It ends his career here, but not his career in the NFL. Look at it as the fact that eventually the Broncos will be reunited with Demaryius. …
“It was hard. It’s always hard. I told him too. I said, I know it’s hard with everything that he was hearing out there. Those types of things are obviously very impossible to keep quiet. Unless something comes to fruition, I usually don’t ever talk about them just because the fact a lot of times they are just rumors. We can’t control that. I told him that we did the best we could to try to take care of him as well as take care of the Broncos. He was obviously — I wouldn’t say surprised, but anytime you’re somewhere, and I can only imagine having never been traded, but I can imagine that there’s a lot of unknown out there for him now going to a new spot.”