It’s always nice to have Peyton Manning on your list of references if you’re an NFL player.
Julius Thomas already had a connection with Dolphins head coach Adam Gase when the Dolphins acquired Thomas from the Jaguars for a seventh-round draft pick in February. Gase was the Broncos’ offensive coordinator in 2013 and 2014, and Thomas caught 12 touchdown passes in each of those seasons.
It was Manning’s recommendation, however, that ultimately persuaded the Dolphins to swing a deal for the tight end.
Dolphins offensive coordinator Clyde Christensen was Manning’s offensive coordinator with the Colts in 2009 and 2010. Ever the pitchman, Manning provided a glowing review of Thomas. He was particularly impressed with Thomas’ ability to adapt to football coming from a basketball background.
“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,” Christensen told the Palm Beach Post as he recalled his conversation with Manning.
Thomas’ production dropped in his two years with Jacksonville. He caught a total of nine touchdown passes in 2015 and 2016 and had just 30 receptions last season. Part of that could be the quarterback. Thomas has experienced the two extremes in that regard. Ryan Tannehill still has question marks hanging over his head, but perhaps he and Thomas can help each other improve.
That will be something to keep an eye on, as well as the progress of Jaguars’ fullback Marquez Williams. Jacksonville acquired Williams with the seventh-round pick it received for Thomas.
Time will tell who wins this trade, but we know which way Manning is leaning.