At one point this season, the New England Patriots had an embarrassment of riches at wide receiver with Julian Edelman, Josh Gordon, Antonio Brown and Demaryius Thomas all on the 53-man roster at the same time. A lot has changed since that was the case for a few days in early September, however: Thomas was shipped to the New York Jets via trade, and Brown released a few days later after new allegations against him came to light.
While Brown has stated that he would want to return to New England — an unlikely scenario considering the free agent’s legal situation and post-release Twitter rant — it seems unlikely that Thomas feels the same way about his old team. In a recent interview with Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News, after all, the 31-year-old called his two-week return to the Patriots after his initial release a “waste of time” and described his departure from the team as “insulting.”
“Once I got cut, I could have just come here and not stayed there and re-sign,” Thomas said about the Patriots. “When they re-signed me, I was thinking that I was good. Two weeks later, I was gone. So, it’s like, ‘Why did I waste my time?’ Because at the end of the day, it was kind of a waste of time for me. [...] I could have easily become a Jet once I got cut. I could have been here the next day after I got released. But I chose to stay.”
Thomas originally joined the Patriots in April when he was still rehabbing from a torn Achilles tendon suffered in Week 16 of the 2018 season. The long-time Denver Broncos receiver therefore missed the team’s entire offseason workout program and was not reactivated off the physically unable to perform list until late in August. He went on to appear in one preseason game before being released on cutdown day.
New England, however, eventually re-signed the wide receiver — “You told me when you cut me at the cut, sit around you’ll bring me back. And I stayed.” — but a hamstring injury forced him to miss the team’s season opener against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Brown had already been added to the mix at that point, and shortly afterwards the Patriots sent Thomas to the Jets in exchange for a sixth-round selection in the NFL’s 2021 draft.
“They took a chance to bring me in and helped me get healthy. I always knew I was going to be able to still play… and it would have worked out because I was still learning their offense,” Thomas told Mehta. “Josh McDaniels drafted me. So, I felt like I was cool. But even having conversations with him and couple other people, it was like, ‘You’re going to be okay.’ Two weeks later, [Antonio Brown] gets cut… and then they kicked me and shipped me out like I’m just a rookie.”
“It was disrespectful to me. Like, you know, you could trust me and I could trust you,” he added. “[Bill Belichick] came up to me and was like, ‘Uh, we got too many guys. We can’t get the ball around enough and we’re going to trade you to the Jets,’ And that was that…. Ain’t no reason to yell. They’ve won championships without me. I was only trying to be a part of something that was going to be good when I was there.”
Thomas will face his old team for the first time this week when the Jets host the Patriots on Monday Night Football. But despite his unhappiness about how things unfolded in New England, he still had some nice things to say about the club after all: “They’re doing a hell of a job. At the end of the day, I couldn’t do anything for them.”