Before trading for Thomas, Miami Dolphins offensive coordinator Clyde Christensen reached out to Manning, who he knows very well from their time together with the Indianapolis Colts. Thomas caught 24 touchdowns in his two seasons with Manning, but Christensen wanted to make sure that the tight end has the mindset to be successful after two disappointing seasons with the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Manning gave Thomas a glowing recommendation.
“That [Thomas] figured it out,” said Christensen of Manning’s overall praise of the tight end. “His figure-it-out factor was high. That’s what you look for. There’s a guy who came in and probably didn’t know a whole bunch about football or played very little. His experience was very minimal, and then came in and figured it out and then worked. [Manning] talked a lot about [how Thomas used to ask] ‘Would you stay out and help me with this? Take me through this. Would you watch a little tape with me? Would you explain what you want on this?’ And he still does the same thing. I’ll see him in coach Gase’s office, and his questions are right. His questions and his process are right, which as a coach, you’re looking for.”
Without Manning in 2015 and 2016, Thomas’s numbers fell off a cliff, dropping from 1,277 yards and 24 touchdowns over the two years with Manning to 736 yards and only nine touchdowns with the Jags. The Dolphins acquired the tight end for a seventh-round draft pick.
The Dolphins also have head coach Adam Gase, who was Thomas’s offensive coordinator in Denver and part of the tight end’s success.
“He knows the system,” said Christensen of Thomas. “He came up through the ranks. He has a great story. You guys will hear it when you talk to him, but a guy that hadn’t played a ton of football and learning how to be a pro, learning how to practice, learning how detailed this thing is and figuring it out. So, his story and what he’ll bring to that locker room I think is really good.”
With Jordan Cameron retired and only a seventh-round selection given up to snag Thomas, I’d say the Dolphins have a lot to gain here without having given up much at all.