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Demaryius Thomas, Broncos headed for franchise tag?

Whether or not Peyton Manningreturns for an 18th NFL season, the Denver Broncos have no intention of losing Demaryius Thomas to free agency.

Appearing on Tuesday's edition of NFL Total Access, NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport reported the Broncos are set to wield the franchise tag, if necessary, to keep their ultra-talented No. 1 receiver.

There have been no talks between the team and Thomas' camp for some time, per Rapoport.

Applying the franchise tag to Thomas would cost roughly $13 million. It would also limit the organization's options with Julius Thomas, another impending free agent.

The Broncos did make some progress on a deal with Julius Thomas early in last summer's training camp, but there have been no negotiations since that time, according to Rapoport.

While both young Pro Bowlers are solid investments, the sense is that an aging Wes Welker will not return to Denver. The slot receiver turns 34 in May, lost his playmaking ability in 2014 and is reportedly contemplating retirement.

If general manager John Elway manages to keep the Thomas duo in Denver, the most likely scenario is via a long-term deal for Julius and the tag for Demaryius.

Under that scenario, Emmanuel Sanders can move to the slot with 2014 second-round draft pick Cody Latimer entering the lineup on the outside.

That proposed lineup would solidify Manning's offense as one of the NFL's most prolific provided the savvy veteran's body cooperates for a 16-game season.

The latest Around The NFL Podcast breaks down the free-agent quarterback market and discusses Peyton Manning's future. Find more Around The NFL content on NFL NOW.

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