Former Denver Broncos wide receiver Demaryius Thomas‘ 2018 season — and possibly his career — ended Sunday, when he reportedly ruptured his Achilles’ tendon during a game against the Philadelphia Eagles.
Thomas, now with the Houston Texans, went down without contact and seemed to immediately know the severity, punching the ground in anger and agony. It was extremely hard to watch, the 30-year-old being carted to the locker room with a towel draped over his head. Tests are expected to confirm the gutwrenching diagnosis.
In the injury’s aftermath, a number of ex-Broncos teammates took to Twitter to wish Thomas well.
“Prayers up @DemaryiusT,” wrote cornerback Chris Harris Jr., who’s on injured reserve with a fractured fibula.
One of the greatest receivers in Broncos history, Thomas’ long tenure came to an end on Oct. 30, when he was dealt to Houston for a 2019 fourth-round draft pick. The move was as unsurprising as it was jarring to a devoted fan base and locker room. Denver wanted to pass the torch to rookie WRs Courtland Sutton and DaeSean Hamilton while wiping Thomas’ $14 million salary cap number off the books. Thomas, meanwhile, received a fresh start on a contending team, which is a win away from an AFC South crown.
“We thought that with the young guys behind him that we could make up for the space that he would leave,” general manager John Elway said. “We got the value that we thought was fair, and that was the most important thing. It’s never easy when you trade a guy that’s been a household name here for a long time and done a lot of great things, not only on the football field but also in the community and was a good man. Plus, it’s a good spot for Demaryius. He’s going to a good football team that’s in a pennant race where he’s going. It’ll be good for him, too.”
Thomas’ debut with the Texans came against the Broncos in Week 9. He made three catches for 61 yards — all in the first half — as Houston emerged victorious, 19-17. Watching Thomas, now wearing No. 87, work as the enemy to the orange and blue was stunningly surreal.
“It was different seeing him over there,” remarked Sutton.
Although no longer a WR1, Thomas had meshed nicely within Houston’s offense, a complementary chain-mover to superstar DeAndre Hopkins. He finishes the 2018 season having caught 59 passes for 677 yards and five touchdowns; 23 receptions for 275 yards and two TDs coming as a member of the Texans.
Thomas’ injury is the worst-case scenario, for a few reasons.
He’s entering a contract year in 2019, his $14 million salary not guaranteed. He turns 31 on Christmas Day, and likely won’t feel totally right until his age-33 campaign. Achilles’ tears are notoriously dreaded due to their prolonged rehabilitation process — at least six months and sometimes up to a year. They’re known to sap an athlete’s explosion, which for Thomas, who was already in a steep decline, may be the kiss of death as his playing days go.