And while he knows it's more than that, he would welcome a similar situation with the developing Blake Bortles in Jacksonville.
"I'm hoping that five or six years from now they are saying, 'You still aren't any good,'" Thomas said this week, via Jacksonville.com. "You caught passes from Peyton and now you caught passes from Blake. Those guys did all the work. You're 6-5, put your hands out and the ball just stuck to it."
Thomas is making a few points here, but here's what he's not doing: Comparing Manning to Bortles at any stage of their career, projecting Bortles to be a similar quarterback or saying that he hopes Bortles plays like Manning.
What he is saying is that he'd welcome a high level of quarterback play, but also that you have to be pretty talented to put up the kind of numbers he did.
When Thomas notes that he's 6-foot-5 and the ball just sticks to his hands, does that not read to everyone else like a giant eye roll toward his critics?
While the tight end was ranked as one of the best free agents this offseason, that always came with a major caveat. Denver didn't help matters by letting him walk.
Now, it's up to Thomas to prove everyone wrong, and maybe make a star out of his quarterback. At the least, he can prove to everyone that the ball simply doesn't stick to one's hands.