With almost every trade that occurs in sports comes a slew of analysis that tries to decide which team was the winner of the trade. The declared winner at the time of the trade can often be very different than the winner of the trade in hindsight, but occasionally there are trades that end up being good for both teams involved.
The trade of Mike Thomas could very well be one of those trades that serves both the Jaguars and the Lions well, but there's no question that the Jaguars are winners of the trade regardless of Thomas's performance in Detroit.
After a relatively strong start to his career, catching 48 balls for 453 yards and a touchdown in 2009 before catching 66 for 820 yards and four touchdowns in 2010, Thomas received a big contract extension from the Jaguars in October 2011 and subsequently disappeared.
In the year that followed he dropped from the top receiving option for the Jaguars to No. 4 on the receiving depth chart behind Laurent Robinson, Cecil Shorts III and Justin Blackmon. While two of those players were added during the offseason, it's a simple reality Thomas was playing like, and was justifiably, the fourth best receiver on a 1-6 football team.
The fourth best receiver on a 1-6 football team that was to receive $1.45 million for his play in 2012, $1.45 million in 2013, $3.45 million in 2014 and $3.71 million in 2015, before becoming a free agent. For comparison's sake, Kevin Elliott, the undrafted rookie that was seeing roughly the same amount of time on the field as Thomas is to receive $390,000 for the 2012 season, $480,000 for 2013, and $570,000 for 2014 before becoming a free agent.
After seven games, in fact, Thomas had been on the field for exactly 257 snaps while Elliott had recorded 255. Granted, Elliott had many more snaps on special teams than Thomas through the seven games, but the point remains the same.
Whether Thomas develops into a 1,000+ yard receiver for the Lions or not, it doesn't matter. It had become perfectly clear that it wasn't going to happen in Jacksonville. Instead he was a fourth-string option that was being paid like a starter.
The rumors are that the Jaguars will receive a mid-round pick that most are guessing will be a fifth rounder, but it really doesn't matter in the final conclusion of the trade. They Jaguars are now without an excessive contract for a role player on the team and it came with an incentive in return. The Jaguars won their side of the trade, regardless.