The New York Jets receiver added another chapter to the team’s New England rivalry with negative comments toward his brief Patriots tenure.
Speaking with Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News, Thomas isn’t feeling nostalgic as his Jets prepare to do battle with the New England Patriots on Monday (8:15 p.m. ET, ESPN). The veteran, like many before him, sought a restart to his football career with the gridiron juggernaut in Foxboro when he signed a one-year deal with the team in April.
A five-time Pro Bowler, Thoma seemed in prime position to join that list. A 2018 season that was spent between Denver and Houston was ended early with a torn Achilles. The injury kept him out of the first trio of preseason games, but he ended the summer on the right note with two touchdowns in the exhibition finale against the New York Giants.
While he didn’t make the Week 1 roster, Thomas reported he was told an opportunity would be available in New England if he was still interested.
Sure enough, Thomas was brought back two days after his release when first-round rookie N’Keal Harry was placed on injured reserve. But eight days later, Thomas again found himself on the move.
New England’s controversial addition of receiver Antonio Brown sent Thomas to his current New York setting eight days after his welcome back. A September trade yielded the Patriots a 2021 sixth-round pick.
While Thomas has been positive about his time with the Jets, he was displeased by his treatment at the hands of the Patriots.
“It was insulting, for sure,” Thomas told Mehta about the trade. “Once I got cut, I could have just come (to the Jets) and not stayed there and re-sign. When (New England) 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.”
Brown would play a single game with the Patriots before he was released in the wake of sexual assault allegations. His one-game stay with New England denied Thomas a chance to work with Josh McDaniels again. The Patriots’ offensive coordinator was the head coach when the Denver Broncos made Thomas their first-round pick in the 2010 draft.
McDaniels departed after that season, but Thomas reached five All-Pro and two Pro Bowl teams over nine seasons in Denver. He currently ranks second in franchise history in receiving yards (9,055) and touchdowns (60). Thomas was traded to the Texans last season in exchange for a pair of third-day picks. He was carted off the field during the penultimate week of the season in Philadelphia.
“(The Patriots) took a chance to bring me in and helped me get healthy,” said Thomas. “It would have worked out because I was still learning their offense. 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, AB gets cut … and then they kicked me (to the curb) and shipped me out like I’m just a rookie.”
Thomas, 31, has earned 108 yards on nine receptions thus far in 2019. He tallied season-highs last week with four catches for 62 yards in a 24-22 win over the Dallas Cowboys.