As a free agent, Julius Thomas chose a long-term contract with the Jags over the virtually guaranteed playoff spot that would have come from staying in Denver. And I don’t mean that as a criticism, because I don’t fault an athlete for prioritizing money and security over winning a Superbowl. I just mean that he could have chosen lots of teams who were more competitive, and he chose to go to Jacksonville. Perhaps he felt that he could get them to the next level, and found that more compelling than being one of Manning’s many options. And maybe he just likes the weather in Jacksonville.
You could draw a similar parallel to Joe Thomas preferring to stay in Cleveland over being traded to a contender. For some players, I expect that getting to play football for a living and liking where they play is more than enough…even if it doesn’t come with playoff trips.