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With deal signed, Demaryius Thomas says he wants to 'retire a Bronco'

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- Saying he "wanted to finish a Bronco, retire a Bronco," Denver wide receiver Demaryius Thomas said Friday he's glad that negotiations worked out on a new long-term deal and that he looks forward to helping the team win the Super Bowl.

Thomas, 27, who had been designated as the team's franchise player, signed a five-year, $70 million deal Wednesday that includes $43.5 million in guarantees.

And though the negotiations came down to the final hours before the deadline for teams to agree with players with the franchise tag, Thomas said he never doubted an agreement would be made.

"No, I didn't [worry a deal would not get done]," Thomas said. "I kind of knew for a little while I was going to be a Bronco. ... Kind of a week before they were going back and forth, I kind of knew."

Thomas, a team captain this past season and one of the team's cornerstone players since he was a first-round pick in the 2010 draft, is now the longest-tenured player with the team on the current roster. Left tackle Ryan Clady was a first-round pick in 2008, but he has already been moved to injured reserve after tearing an ACL in an offseason workout.

Earlier in the week, Broncos executive vice president of football operations and general manager John Elway said: "[Thomas] has developed into one of the top wide receivers in the NFL, and making sure he remained a Denver Bronco was a significant priority for our team. Demaryius is a special talent and an elite player who has also become a team leader during his five NFL seasons."

Thomas, a three-time Pro Bowl selection, also said Friday even if he had not agreed to a long-term deal that he would have played the 2015 season under the franchise player tender (one-year, $12.82 million) and that "I wasn't going to sit out any games."

But the negotiations were never acrimonious, and the Broncos had made enough progress on the deal that they had already shipped Thomas a playbook and practice video to see the new offense under first-year coordinator Gary Kubiak. Thomas was also regularly in touch with wide receivers coach Tyke Tolbert and quarterback Peyton Manning.

Thomas said Friday he intended to play this season at about 222 pounds after playing at about 229 pounds last season and has made setting an NFL single-season record for receiving yardage one of his goals for the season. Calvin Johnson holds the record, which he set in 2012 with 1,964 yards.

Thomas finished with a franchise-record 1,619 yards this past season, despite having 48, 62 and 31 yards in the team's first three games in 2014.

"I had three bad games last year or I would have hit it then, don't forget," Thomas said with a smile.

It has been a huge week for Thomas both personally and professionally. Monday he received the news his mother, Katina Smith, was one of 46 nonviolent drug offenders to have her sentence commuted by President Barack Obama.

Smith and Thomas' maternal grandmother, Minnie Pearl, were arrested in 1999 for narcotics trafficking. Both had been in prison since Thomas was 11 years old. Smith was scheduled to be released in 2017.

Thomas said Friday his mother will now go to a halfway house in Macon, Georgia, in two weeks and is scheduled for a release from the halfway house, he hoped, by November.

"I look forward for her coming to her first game," Thomas said. "It's [all] kind of breathtaking."

Minnie Thomas received a life sentence for that crime and remains in prison.

On the field, since starting the 2011 season, Thomas ranks second in the NFL with 28 100-yard-receiving games in the regular season and postseason. Last season he posted 10 100-yard games, including seven in consecutive weeks. His 226 yards in the Broncos' Oct. 5 win over the Arizona Cardinals is a single-game franchise record.

With Manning at quarterback, Thomas has had three consecutive seasons with at least 92 receptions, 1,430 yards receiving and 10 touchdowns. He is only the third player in league history to have three consecutive seasons of at least 1,400 yards receiving and at least 10 touchdowns; Jerry Rice and Marvin Harrison are the others.

The Broncos have now signed their past three players to carry the franchise player tag to long-term deals just before the deadline -- Clady and kicker Matt Prater were the others. Thomas' deal gives the Broncos the franchise player tag back, so it is available to use on linebacker Von Miller, whose contract is set to expire after the 2015 season.

Thomas is scheduled to have a football camp in Denver on Saturday and Sunday.