NFL notebook: Broncos place franchise tag on star receiver Demaryius Thomas _lowres

Denver Broncos wide receiver Demaryius Thomas, left, pulls in a touchdown pass as Indianapolis Colts free safety LaRon Landry defends during the first half of an NFL divisional playoff football game, Sunday, Jan. 11, 2015, in Denver. (AP Photo/Jack Dempsey)

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — The Denver Broncos placed their franchise tag on star receiver Demaryius Thomas, guaranteeing him roughly $12.8 million next season and buying them more time to work out a long-term deal.

General Manager John Elway used that same tactic before re-signing kicker Matt Prater and left tackle Ryan Clady before training camp in recent years.

“This is another step in our efforts to extend Demaryius’ contract and ensure he remains a Denver Bronco,” Elway said. “We will continue working toward a long-term agreement with Demaryius, who is a very important part of our team.”

Selected 22nd in 2010 out of Georgia Tech, Thomas has made the Pro Bowl in each of his three seasons with Peyton Manning at quarterback.

Thomas could always signal his displeasure with the move by waiting to sign the tender and skipping offseason workouts that begin the first week of April. If Thomas doesn’t sign a long-term contract, the Broncos could use the franchise tag on him again next year.

This move also makes it more unlikely that Pro Bowl tight end Julius Thomas will be back in Denver next season.

The Thomases are among Denver’s dozen unrestricted free agents, a group that also includes Wes Welker, Terrance Knighton, Rahim Moore, Orlando Franklin and Jacob Tamme.

By placing the non-exclusive designation on Thomas, the Broncos also bought more time to see how the Manning era plays out. Manning is expected to announce soon that he’ll be back for an 18th season and fourth in Denver, with a restructured contract that gives the team more financial flexibility.

Other players who officially received the franchise tag Monday: Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant, Chiefs outside linebacker Justin Houston, Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul and Patriots kicker Stephen Gostkowski.

The Dolphins gave tight end Charles Clay the transition tag.


Team, Peterson have chatted: The Vikings have been trying to take advantage of their opportunity to communicate with Adrian Peterson.

General Manager Rick Spielman said the organization has had “open dialogue” with the star running back since the NFL tabled his suspension and returned him to the special exempt list. That’s where Peterson spent much of the 2014 season, essentially paid leave, while the child abuse case he was involved in played out in court.

The league made that move Thursday after U.S. District Judge David Doty overruled the arbitrator who denied Peterson’s appeal. Under the parameters of his suspension, the Vikings weren’t allowed to have any direct contact with Peterson. Now they’re able to, for the time being. That’s critical with the NFL’s transactions period starting March 10. Peterson will turn 30 five days later.

Around the league

A person familiar with the decision said the Titans informed veteran safety Bernard Pollard that he will be released. ... The Ravens waived cornerback Victor Hampton after his weekend arrest in North Carolina on a charge of driving while impaired and speeding. ... Cornerback Cortland Finnegan was released by the Dolphins after starting 12 games last season. ... The Eagles signed linebacker Brad Jones, who was released by the Packers last month.