After being released by the Miami Dolphins back in March, Julius Thomas is officially hanging up his cleats.
Thomas, 30, is closing out his seven-year NFL career, one that started as a fourth-round draft pick of the Denver Broncos back in 2011. While in Denver, Thomas emerged as one of the league’s most dangerous tight ends, especially in the red zone. During the 2013 and 2014 seasons, he accumulated a whopping 24 touchdowns, over 1,200 receiving yards, and 108 receptions while catching passes from Peyton Manning under then-offensive coordinator Adam Gase.
Thomas turned that production into a five-year, $46 million contract with the Jacksonville Jaguars, where injuries and poor quarterback play from Blake Bortles brought his numbers down to a sputtering low. After the 2016 season, the Jaguars top brass decided they’d overpaid for Thomas long enough and traded him to the Dolphins for a seventh-round draft pick.
In Miami, the former Pro Bowler signed a new two-year contract. Both Thomas and Dolphins fans were hoping that being reunited with now-head coach Adam Gase would be enough to rekindle that spark that led Thomas to being a star in Denver. Unfortunately a combination of nagging injuries and horrendous quarterbacking from Jay Cutler proved to be insufficient fuel, and Thomas failed to become a useful weapon in Miami’s offense. The veteran looked slow on the field and was simply outmatched by more athletic defenders. Only on the hook for $1 million in guarantees, the team cut him loose this offseason.
Thomas released a statement through The Players’ Tribune discussing his reasons for walking away from the game he’s played over the past seven years. “The ability to assist with the latest research being done on brain trauma and the pursuit to better understand CTE. To study it not just from the perspective of a psychologist or a clinician, but also as a person who has played for several years at the highest level, is something that excites me,” he wrote. “It fills me with a sense of purpose. It’s a way to help while growing intellectually that I had been searching for. I know I have so much to learn, but that’s what I’m most looking forward to.”
Thomas is hoping that by making an impact, he can cement his legacy beyond football. “I believe helping others is what I’m supposed to be doing at this point in my life. Hopefully I can help by encouraging more of my peers to connect with who they are outside of the game. If ultimately that’s what I’m remembered for, I’d be very thankful.”