Jaguars tight end Julius Thomas due guaranteed money soon

After two disappointing seasons, the Jacksonville Jaguars have an early offseason decision to make on tight end Julius Thomas.

In an effort to surround quarterback Blake Bortles with better talent, the Jacksonville Jaguars signed tight end Julius Thomas to a five-year, $46 million contact ($24 million guaranteed) in 2015. Thomas had 24 touchdowns over the prior two seasons with the Denver Broncos, so concerns about him being a Peyton Manning creation were prevalent.

Through two seasons in Jacksonville, over just 21 games due to injuries, Thomas has 76 receptions for 736 yards and nine touchdowns. That is obviously not what anyone envisioned Thomas producing in a Jaguars’ uniform to this point, but the team may have a quick way out this offseason.

According Joel Corry of CBS Sports, as part of a longer piece on NFL free agency, $3 million of Thomas’ $7 million base salary for 2017 becomes fully guaranteed on Feb. 10. That’s Friday of this week, and while it’s unclear what new front office head man Tom Coughlin thinks of Thomas, cutting him seems very likely. In terms of potential salary cap implications, Mike DiRocco of reported in January the Jaguars can save $4.7 million by cutting Thomas.

If Thomas is cut before the end of the week, he would join a free agent group of tight ends that is not very impressive. Martellus Bennett is arguably the No. 1 available option, followed by Jared Cook, Jack Doyle, Ryan Griffin and Luke Willson. Thomas would slot in somewhere in the top 2-3 of that group, with Bennett and Cook, even on the heels of his disappointing recent run.

A back injury ended the 2016 season early for Thomas, so if he’s not fully healthy yet that could play into the Jaguars’ decision to cut him or keep him. Corry did add a note suggesting the $3 million that comes due on Friday was guaranteed for injury at the time Thomas was signed, but all things considered Thomas should be looking for a new team soon.

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