The Miami Dolphins traded with the Jacksonville Jaguars for tight end Julius Thomas this offseason, but not without consulting Peyton Manning first.
Manning, who helped turn Thomas into two-time Pro Bowler who caught 24 touchdowns in 2013-14, gave Miami a glowing report about his former Denver Broncos teammate. When Dolphins offensive coordinator Clyde Christiansen, who coached him in 2009-10 with the Indianapolis Colts, to pick his brains about Thomas, Manning gave him a glowing report.
“That (Thomas) figured it out,” Christensen explained of Manning’s report, via Joe Schad of the Palm Beach Post. “(Thomas’) figure-it-out factor was high. That’s what you look for. There’s a guy who came in and probably didn’t know a whole bunch about football, or played very little. His experience was very minimal, and then (he) came in and figured it out and then worked. (Manning) talked a lot about (Thomas asking), ‘Would you stay out and help me with this? Take me through this. Would you watch a little tape with me? Would you explain what you want on this?’ And he still does the same thing. I’ll see him in (Head) Coach (Adam) Gase’s office and his questions are right. His questions and his process are right, which as a coach, (is what) you’re looking for.”
After Thomas’ brilliant campaigns in Denver with Manning, he signed a lucrative contract with the Jaguars in free agency before the 2015 season. Between some injuries and the fact that he was playing with Blake Bortles, rather than Manning, his production dropped off considerably the past couple of seasons. Between 2015-16, Thomas caught just 76 passes for 736 yards and nine touchdowns.
Because of that, Miami was able to land Thomas without having to give up much in return. He’ll be in a better situation to excel with the Dolphins. Quarterback Ryan Tannehill is healthy and ready to pick up where he left off last year before a knee injury ended his season early.
On top of that, Thomas will be in an offense that should help him succeed.
Any time you can get Manning’s stamp of approval, you’re doing something right. The Dolphins hope Thomas can get back to his Broncos form. If he can, then they’ll be one step closer to becoming a force in the AFC.