Demaryius Thomas says he'll give Broncos a break

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) Demaryius Thomas says he'd take a hometown discount to stay in Denver.

If he does, the Broncos can thank Peyton Manning and even Josh McDaniels, the man who drafted him.

''It's just respect for this town because they took a chance on me when I was coming out, and of course I'd like to keep playing with Peyton,'' Thomas said Friday after testing out his bruised right ankle at practice.

Thomas said he expects to play Sunday against Buffalo, but the bigger news is his eagerness to get a deal done to stay in Denver for the long haul.

While hometown discount is a nebulous term - is that less than the $16 million annually that Calvin Johnson and Larry Fitzgerald average, and if so, how much less? - it is certainly good news for the Broncos.

They have two other stars up for megadeals in cornerback Chris Harris Jr. and tight end Julius Thomas. Then, there's the blockbuster extension looming for Von Miller after 2015.

Thomas first mentioned his willingness to take less money to stay in Denver during an interview with the NFL Network that's airing Friday night.

''Of course, why not?'' Thomas said. ''Peyton is one of the best in the game, and I've been blessed to have him as my quarterback. I learned so much from him. Denver, of course I've got to take my hats off to them, because they took a chance of drafting me in the first round.''

It was McDaniels who selected an injured Thomas out of Georgia Tech with the 22nd overall pick in 2010, three spots ahead of his infamous selection of Tim Tebow.

If the Broncos can get Demaryius Thomas signed to a long-term contract, they could place their franchise tag on Julius Thomas, the only tight end in NFL history to post back-to-back 12-TD seasons. Both players have watched their stock rise after rejecting the Broncos' initial offers last summer.

Demaryius Thomas has 88 catches for 1,255 yards and 10 touchdowns. He's 145 yards shy of joining Jerry Rice and Marvin Harrison as the only players in NFL history to top 1,400 yards receiving with double digit TDs three consecutive seasons. Harrison did it four straight years (1999-2002) with Manning in Indianapolis.

Over his three seasons with Manning, Thomas has caught 275 passes for 4,029 yards and has reached the end zone 34 times.

Knowing the daunting contracts he'd be facing with the two Thomases, GM John Elway chose not to keep free agent wide receiver Eric Decker last winter. Without an offer to stay, Decker quickly signed a five-year, $36.5 million deal with the New York Jets.

Decker has had a trying season in the Big Apple with his team mired in a 2-10 funk while the Broncos appear primed for another deep playoff run. His wife, country singer Jessie James Decker, recently said her husband was depressed, something Decker denied.

''I never have any regrets,'' Decker said this week. ''People sometimes don't understand the free agency process. It's not like Denver was calling my agent to get me back.'' He added: ''I would have bet everything that I have that we wouldn't be in this situation.''

Thomas said he doesn't necessarily see Decker's tough transition as a cautionary tale.

''No, he seems happy to me,'' Thomas said. ''And I think that's all that really matters when it comes to a guy making a decision he made.''

Thomas said he spends no time pondering his own contract situation except when he's asked about it.

''I don't even worry about it,'' he said. ''The only thing I think about when I'm home - well, now this week was getting my ankle better - but previously, it's just trying to be the best receiver I can be, trying to be the best receiver in the league.

''I never think about my contract.''

Notes: Four players are out for Sunday's game: RBs Montee Ball (groin) and Ronnie Hillman (groin), CB Kayvon Webster (shoulder) and WR Cody Latimer (concussion). ... Julius Thomas (ankle) is 50-50. ... ''It's on them, man,'' C.J. Anderson said, pointing to the O-line after being awarded the FedEx NFL Ground Player of the Week award Friday for his 168-yard rushing performance against the Chiefs.

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AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP-NFL

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Follow AP Pro Football Writer Arnie Melendrez Stapleton on Twitter: http://twitter.com/arniestapleton

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