The New York Jets will be wide receiver Demaryius Thomas’ fourth team in the past year — the four-time Pro Bowler suddenly becoming pro football’s newest nomad.
The 31-year-old has gone from the Denver Broncos to the Houston Texans, to the Patriots, before landing with the Jets, who had to give a sixth-round draft pick to New England to get him.
While Thomas has seemingly been written off around the NFL, being acquired by New York could provide a mutualistic relationship between the veteran pass catcher and his team.
The move suggests that the Jets aren’t happy with the current state of their wide receiving corps after their Week 1 loss to the Buffalo Bills.
Second-year quarterback Sam Darnold had a great connection with his newest slot receiver, Jamison Crowder, as the two hooked up on 14 receptions for 99 yards.
Darnold’s next-leading receiver was running back Le’Veon Bell, although he’s one of the best dual-threat backs in the league.
When it came to other Jets wide receivers, though, Robby Anderson, Josh Bellamy, and Quincy Enunwa combined for just 5 receptions and 34 yards.
And head coach Adam Gase didn’t mince his words when calling out his pass catchers on Monday.
“Yeah, I mean, if we just make plays on the balls that we actually threw down the field, that’s a different number,” Gase said. “I mean, we had opportunities. We had a chance to win the game… Guys need to do a better job of executing what they’re supposed to be doing.”
His comments and the Jets’ decision to pick up Thomas sends a clear message: Do your job or you’re done.
Considering Thomas is an outside receiver with big-play capabilities, that’s bad news for Anderson. Though his acquisition now provides crucial depth after it was announced Wednesday that Enunwa will be out for the season.
There is no denying that Thomas is exiting his prime years, which was accelerated after he ruptured his Achilles with the Texans.
From 2012-2017, the 6-foot-3 receiver averaged 95 receptions and 1,303 yards per season before falling out of favor in Denver, prompting the trade to Houston.
The Patriots took a flyer on Thomas as he recovered from his injury and he was able to suit up for the final game of the preseason against the Giants.
He looked good, reeling in seven catches for 87 yards and two touchdowns, but the Patriots released him during final roster cuts only to sign him a few days later.
New England’s sudden — and depending on who you ask, suspicious — signing of Antonio Brown this week made Thomas the odd-man-out once again.
Now, Thomas will be entering a system where he could very well compete for the No. 1 receiver job while providing Darnold with a proven outside receiver.
During Thomas’ prime years (2012-2017), Brown was the only receiver during that stretch with more targets and receptions. Thomas’ catch rate of 62-percent during that span is also a solid mark for an outside receiver.
It would be unfair to place those kinds of expectations on his shoulders, but Thomas could provide Darnold with the best receiver he’s ever worked with during his young career.