Julius Thomas is Miami-bound after all.
The Jaguars are trading the veteran tight end to the Dolphins, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported, via a source informed of the pending move. Per Rapoport, it’s expected that the Jaguars will receive a 2017 seventh-round pick in return.
The trade will not be official until the start of the new league year on March 9.
The sides are still finalizing the Albert deal. When all is said and done, the two separate trades will result in Thomas and a late-round draft pick going to Miami in exchange for Albert and another late-round pick.
It’s easy to appreciate the moves from the Dolphins‘ point of view.
With Thomas taking over as the tight end in three-receiver sets and 2016 first-round pick Laremy Tunsil replacing a declining Albert at left tackle, the offense has theoretically improved at two positions.
This could be just the change of scenery Thomas needs to get his career back on track. After a pair of Pro Bowl seasons in Denver, he was a colossal disappointment under a monstrous five-year, $46 million deal in Jacksonville.
Thomas struggled to develop chemistry with Blake Bortles after missing the beginning of the 2015 season with finger surgery and returning at less than peak football shape in October. Hampered by ankle and elbow injuries prior to his season-ending fractured tailbone last year, Thomas finished his second Jacksonville campaign with just 281 yards and four touchdowns on 30 receptions.
Now he’s returning to the comfort of Adam Gase’s offense. With Gase calling the plays across 2013 and 2014 in Denver, Thomas became the first tight end in history to record at least 12 touchdowns in back-to-back seasons.
“Skill-set wise as a tight end, he gives you everything,” NFL Media analyst Daniel Jeremiah explained in 2014. “He can run after the catch, he can post you up in the middle of the field, he has a great feel in the red zone.”
Still just 28 years old, Thomas could be poised for a bounce-back season in Miami. Without benefit of a Hall of Fame quarterback like Peyton Manning, though, he’s a poor bet to score 24 times over 27 games as he did when the Broncos‘ offense was shattering NFL records.
Gase will be satisfied if Thomas stays out of the trainer’s room, fills the void as the pass-catching specialist in spread formations and emerges as Ryan Tannehill‘s most trusted red-zone weapon.