By Nick Shook
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In the latest edition of I’ve never felt better offseason declarations, we bring you Demaryius Thomas.
The Broncos receiver is 29 years old and has posted five straight 1,000-yard-plus seasons, so it’s easy to say he’s felt pretty darn good over the last half decade. But he admitted in April that he dealt with a hip problem in 2016, which he recently said has been alleviated and truly has him feeling at his peak. He also added in a little nugget about his football lifespan, which is interesting, because it’s not all that long.
“I got longer than 30 [years],” Thomas said, via the team’s official site. “I think I’ve got a couple good years [left]. Like I’ve been saying before, this is the best I’ve felt my whole career. I haven’t had the problems I usually have with my hip, because that was one of the things that held me back.
“I wake up now and I don’t feel it, and that’s a good sign, because usually I wake up in the morning and I’m like, ‘OK, my hip’s tight. I’ve got to loosen it up to get it going.’ But now it’s totally different.”
Playing without pain is important because it’s freeing for a skilled position player. One of the basic motions in running a precise route can involve the sinking of hips before bursting out of the cut. The elimination of hip tightness and pain can bring out the best in these types, and for Thomas, who turns 31 in December (he’s a Christmas baby), this is especially important at this stage of his career.
What’s peculiar, though, is that he’d give himself just a couple of good years left. Yes, his touchdown total has declined in each season since 2013, but that number dropped by only one score between 2015 and 2016, in which he played alongside a carousel of Peyton Manning, Brock Osweiler, Trevor Siemian and Paxton Lynch. He still caught 90 passes and finished at 1,083 yards in 2016 despite the uncertainty under center (and in the backfield, and along the offensive line) and hip problem. To put a small cap on a finite future doesn’t exactly inspire confidence, although Thomas could also be the type who wants to retire with relatively good health still intact.
We’ll see if Thomas’ aspirations, health and predictions fall in line. There are plenty of other factors outside of his control — offensive line and quarterback play chiefly among them — but with his health seemingly trending upward, perhaps a sixth season above 1,000 yards awaits him.