Lets get this out of the way before anyone reading this says it in their head. Yes, Julius Thomas has been a massive disappointment. When Thomas originally signed the 5 year, $46.5 million dollar deal in the 2015 offseason, it was predicted by many that he would be the red-zone threat he was in Denver, where he accumulated 24 touchdowns in a 2 year period.
In his 2 years with the Jaguars. Thomas has a combined 76 receptions, 736 yards, and 9 touchdowns. He also has a yards per catch of 9.7 yards, a few ticks down from his time in Denver.
Surely the Jaguars haven't gotten the bang for their buck, as it also doesn't help that Thomas has appeared to be out of shape at times, especially this year.
As much flack as Dave Caldwell has taken this year, the one thing he has done extremely well is construct the free agent contracts wisely, putting most of the guaranteed money upfront, and essentially creating contracts that work as 2 or 3 year deals with team options afterward.
Thomas is due $8,3 million this year. However, the Jaguars could save $4,7 million by cutting Thomas. Initially this seems like a smart idea, considering Thomas' high cap hit and his performance so far in Jacksonville. Here's the thing though; The Jaguars would be making a mistake cutting Thomas.
First, I think for better or for worse, everyone on the team has a fresh start with Coughlin in charge, and Marrone as the new head coach. This also means Thomas should have a chance to prove himself once again. I don't think he will ever put up the numbers he did in Denver, but Thomas still has enough talent to be a top 15 threat as a tight end, especially in the red-zone.
Also, does anyone else get the feeling that Thomas was used in the worst possible way with the last coaching staff? I wanted to pound my head into the wall anytime I saw Thomas run out to the flat, or run a 4-5 yard curl. It was a complete waste of his talent, as Thomas has almost no ability to make guys miss. If he can be used correctly, running up the seam, running post routes, or even the fade route he scored a touchdown on week 1 against the Packers, Thomas can become some of the threat the Jaguars hoped he would be.
Cutting Thomas also means the Jaguars feel comfortable with the tight ends on their roster. While Koyack had some nice games in the last few weeks, neither him or Neil Sterling are ready to take over full time as the main tight end. Marcedes is too past his primed to be asked to do so, and I wouldn't be surprised if they at least consider moving on from him if he gets out performed in training camp by Koyack and Sterling.
So if the answer isn't already on the roster, maybe it would be there in free agency? Well, unless you want to overpay Martellus Bennett, or are a huge fan of Jack Doyle, they aren't many options out there.
At the end of the day, the Jaguars won't be desperate for the extra 4.7 million in cap space, as they will have close to 70 million if they cut guys like Odrick, House, and Skuta.
This team still lacks talent, and while Thomas has been frustrating in his time in Jacksonville, there is no doubt he is still a talented player. The Jaguars aren't in a position to be letting guys with talent go, no matter what the internal belief is in the current talent on the roster.
If Thomas doesn't perform this year, you can always get rid of him next year, for even a smaller penalty of $2.4 million in dead money.
I think Thomas makes it past cuts despites some speculation, but make no mistake about it. The Jaguars would be foolish to give up on Thomas at this point.