Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Free Agent Focus on Pair of Broncos

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Free Agent Focus on Pair of Broncos

Article excerpt

Byline: Ryan O'Halloran

INDIANAPOLIS | A key element of any Jaguars free agent conversation since the middle of last season has been about making Denver tight end Julius Thomas a priority when the market opens March 10.

Thomas makes total sense and should be near the top of the Jaguars' Plan A list even if he'll cost more than Marcedes Lewis, who has been limited during the Dave Caldwell/Gus Bradley Era by calf (2013) and ankle (2014) injuries and counts $8.2 million against the salary cap this year.

But another Broncos player could make sense in the Plan B category.

Free safety Rahim Moore, 26, would be a fit for the Jaguars.

The Broncos have $24.2 million in cap space, but receiver Demaryius Thomas is expected to take up a big chunk (maybe 50 percent) of that. And quarterback Peyton Manning ($19 million base salary) is expected to return.

"I know we're going to do everything we can to hang on to our players, but at the same time, you have to put yourself in position to get better as a football team," new Broncos coach Gary Kubiak said. "[GM John Elway's] track record has proven he's doing a great job of that so I'll leave that to him."

Enter other teams like the Jaguars to raid the Broncos' roster.

Thomas will be 27 when the 2015 season starts. He played only nine games his two years with the Broncos before having a combined 108 catches (24 touchdowns) the last two years while playing 27 out of a possible 32 games.

The cynic will always suggest Thomas was a product of Manning. The real view: Thomas is a dynamite red zone target who would instantly become one of Blake Bortles' top options.

But he'll cost a lot - maybe in the $8.5-$9 million range per year.

The Jaguars may not get a shot at Patriots free safety Devin McCourty, who could be placed under the franchise tag and Moore falls in the second tier.

Moore had low points in 2012 (he was beat for a 70-yard Jacoby Jones touchdown catch in Baltimore's playoff win over Denver) and 2013 (broken leg that resulted in compartment syndrome and nearly ended his career) to play every game last year and have four interceptions and two forced fumbles. …

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