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Mason's Mailbag: Demaryius Thomas climbing the ranks

As always, you can tweet questions to me with the hashtag #AskMase, use the submission form or scroll to the bottom of this page.

In a single season, it's happened to six receivers before Demaryius Thomas: Raymond Berry in 1960, Charlie Hennigan in 1961, Herman Moore and Isaac Bruce in 1995, Torry Holt in 2003 and Calvin Johnson last year. So Thomas has some company, but it's fairly exclusive.

Do you think that Demaryius Thomas could be considered one of the greatest wide receivers to play for Denver, even better than Shannon Sharpe and Rod Smith. Do you think he will be a Hall of Famer one day?
-- Kyle Katz

He's already among the 10 greatest wide receivers in Broncos history. Among Broncos, he's tied for third in 1,000-yard seasons with three, is sixth among wide receivers in receptions (328), seventh among wide receivers in yards (4,953) and already has more touchdown receptions (40) than all but four Broncos wide receivers: Rod Smith, Ed McCaffrey, Haven Moses and Lionel Taylor. (When considering all positions, his rankings drop a bit, because tight end Shannon Sharpe and Riley Odoms had more receptions, yards and touchdowns.)

But as for the Hall of Fame ... whoa, whoa. It's waaaaaay too early. He's at least 500 receptions and 6,000 yards from even thinking about that as a possibility, unless there are exceptional circumstances.

Thomas is off to a good start; if he gets another 47 receiving yards this season, he becomes the 11th player in league history to have at least 300 receptions, 5,000 yards and 40 touchdowns in his first five seasons.

But six of the first 10 to earn that distinction came in the last decade: Larry Fitzgerald, Marques Colston, Greg Jennings, Calvin Johnson and, this year, Dez Bryant, which stands as another example of how previous receiving standards for the Hall of Fame will be abandoned because of the ease of passing in this era.

DT turned down the first contract offer for next season, do you think the reason was more money, or not wanting to be in orange and blue next year?
-- Ivan Ronnlof

It's not a question of wanting to be in Denver. As he said Friday, after being asked about giving Denver a "hometown discount" as he said on an NFL Network interview: "I think it's just respectful to the town and to the chance (I was given) when I was coming out and of course, I would like to keep playing with Peyton (Manning)."

Yes, money is a signifcant factor, but it's not everything.

The situation will bear monitoring, but it seems apparent Thomas wants to be in Denver. It's just a matter of whether both sides can make it work, given the market for elite receivers and the logistics of overall roster construction under a salary cap. There's "a lotta ins, lotta outs, a lotta what-have-you's," in the parlance of The Dude.

**

Just sing ray rice.**
-- Dashone Cheatham

I'd rather not. I'm a tad tone-deaf.

Mase, you being the Bronco encyclopedia, what do you think the chances are that Peyton Manning re-signs after his first five-year contract is up?
-- Hany Hanna

I appreciate the thought, and yes, I might be a Broncos encyclopedia, so I can tell you what was. But I'm not a Broncos crystal ball, so I don't know what will be. Besides, too much can change from year to year to even consider this right now.

I have been a Broncos fan since I was in my mother's womb, but have never been able to attend a game. Thankfully, a surprise Christmas gift from my wife will put the longest losing streak in my personal history to an end. We're going to see the game against the Bills! I want to make the most of this trip. I want autographs. Lots of them. I want to shake hands with a few players from the best team in the league. Is that possible? What's the best way to get autographs and shake hands?
-- Shawn Over

Your best chance of seeing players is to come by the northwest tunnel a few hours before kickoff, and you can stand, watch and give a cheer to them as they walk into the stadium. Autographs are tough to get on a game day. You might get lucky and have some players stop and sign, but they've got someplace to go and are in game-day mode. Still, if you want at least a glimpse of all of your favorite Broncos, that is your best bet.

**

I know it might be to early to talk about this but do you think the Broncos will be able to keep all upcoming free agents or is it too early to discuss?**
-- Anthony Madrid

It's early, but realistically, it will be impossible to keep every one of them. Struggling teams will pay a premium price to attract players from a team that has the NFL's best regular-season record since November 2011 (41-12, matched by the New England Patriots). Just look at the contracts given by the Jacksonville Jaguars to Zane Beadles, the New York Jets to Eric Decker and the Tennessee Titans to Wesley Woodyard last spring. All did well as Broncos, but it was not realistic to retain them with other areas of need and, in the case of Beadles and Woodyard, potential in-house replacements awaiting.

You have to trust your drafts, player development, and fortification of the back end of the roster. Without that, the Broncos would have been in trouble when Danny Trevathan suffered a training-camp injury, but Brandon Marshall ensured the defense had no drop-off, and proved that he, too, is a quality NFL starter.

Difficult choices loom, no doubt.

Why would these coaches re-sign a kicker who cannot kick from 33 yards? I guess Denver possibly may not get to the SB........ -- Gail Bock

Because they're signing Brandon McManus to the practice squad -- not the primary roster -- where he can develop and work through his recent slump without the immediate consequences of missing. And if the Broncos decide they need a kickoff specialist -- a discipline at which he's among the league's best -- they can simply promote him to the 53-man roster.

And finally, to follow up on last week's Mailbag, I asked which athletes you would pardon, and some of you mentioned some Broncos:

The players I forgive for a blunder are Brian Griese and Matt Lepsis. Griese for throwing the pick and Matt for leg whipping Terrelle Davis and blowing out that knee. I've forgiven both now. Losing Davis in his prime was a loss to not only Denver, fans but to the NFL as well.
-- Jason Wilson

I am writing in response to your question about which athlete I would pardon. For me, that would be Rahim Moore for the late touchdown pass by Jacoby Jones in the Broncos' 2012 playoff loss to the Ravens. Had the Broncos simply been able to make one more first down, the game would have been over and that pass would never have happened.
-- Joe Garceau

As bad as you and Broncos fams felt, I know he felt a million times worse. The fact that he stood up in the locker room after the game, tears streaming down his face, and accepted responsibility rather than ducking out and not answering questions earned him my permanent respect. He remains one of the most thoughtful, classy players in the locker room, and his forthrightness is always appreciated.


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