The former Virginia Tech quarterback spent the last four years bouncing around the league, but now he has found a new home in Washington.
Thomas would have been the Redskins' second-leading tight end in receiving yards last year behind Jeremy Sprinkle. He only had three starts last year, but it would seem that he could compete for more playing time with Washington. Here are five things Redskins fans should know about Thomas.
1. Redskins fans are already familiar with him.
Many Redskins fans might believe this is the first time they have ever heard of Thomas, but they actually saw what he can do last season.
Thomas had 16 receptions for 173 yards and one touchdown in 2019. That score came in Week 12 against the Redskins when quarterback Jeff Driskel connected with him on a 12-yard pass in the third quarter.
The play was Thomas' first catch and target of the game. Trailing 13-6 at the end of the first half, the Lions started on offense after the break and opened with a 75-yard scoring drive that ended with Thomas' catch. The play tied the game, 13-13, as Thomas celebrated his second career touchdown with a Lions fan sitting in the stands.
Thomas finished the game with two catches for 24 yards, but it might have been enough to show the Redskins that his skills could be useful in offensive coordinator Scott Turner's offense.
2. He played quarterback in college.
Thomas wasn't always a tight end. He spent his time throwing touchdowns rather than catching them at Virginia Tech.
Thomas was an all-around athlete at Brookeville High School in Campbell County, Virginia. On the football field, he played quarterback, wide receiver and defensive back. He also competed in track and field during his junior and senior years. He was an All-State competitor in the 110- and 300-meter hurdles, high jump and discus.
He stayed in his home state by signing an offer from the Hokies, and after redshirted his freshman year and backing up Tyrod Taylor, he was named the starting signal-caller.
In three seasons as a starter, Thomas threw for 8,896 yards and 53 touchdowns. He also rushed for 1,337 yards and 24 touchdowns on 489 carries. Virginia Tech went 26-14 during that stretch, including a trip to the ACC Championship in 2011, and finished all three seasons with bowl appearances.
3. He played quarterback for the Cardinals and made NFL history.
Thomas entered the 2014 NFL Draft as a quarterback and was picked up by the Arizona Cardinals in the fourth round. He was part of a crowded quarterbacks room that included Drew Stanton, Carson Palmer and Ryan Lindley.
He made his NFL debut in Week 5 against the Denver Broncos when Stanton was sidelined with a concussion. Thomas only completed one of eight passes in a 42-20 defeat, but that one completion resulted in an 81-yard touchdown by Andre Ellington.
Thomas was the first NFL quarterback in 23 years to have his first-career completion result in a gain of at least 80 yards. The last player to do it was Neil O'Donnell in 1991 with an 89-yard pass against the San Diego Chargers.
The pass ended up being the only completion of Thomas' career as a quarterback, as he only played the position in one more game and was 0-for-1 in the matchup. Still, Thomas made sure his professional debut was a memorable one.
4. He officially switched to tight end in a separate stint with the Lions.
The 2019 season wasn't the first time Thomas signed with the Detroit Lions. He first joined them in 2016 as a member of the practice squad after brief periods with the Miami Dolphins and New York Giants.
But rather than continue his career as a quarterback, he decided to switch to tight end.
Thomas didn't get much playing time at the position until he signed with the Buffalo Bills later that year. He started to get on the field more often in 2017 after fellow tight end Charles Clay went down with a knee injury. He even caught his first touchdown pass from Taylor against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
"I had to learn a completely different set of ideals, a completely different verbiage, but it's going very smoothly," Thomas told the team’s website. "Thankfully going from quarterback to tight end is a lot easier than going from tight end to quarterback."
Thomas signed with the Lions again in March of last year and had his best statistical season as a tight end. He averaged 10.8 yards per catch, which was a big jump from his six-yard average with the Bills.
5. He can be a weapon on special teams.
Thomas' days as a quarterback are likely long behind him, but he has still found ways to use his arm on occasion, particularly during fake punts.
After taking a 7-0 lead against the New York Jets in 2018, the Bills were forced to send the punt team out after a drive stalled at their own 47-yard line. But rather than kick the ball away, the team had Thomas throw a 15-yard completion to Robert Foster.
The play kept the Bills in control, and Thomas' pass paid off eight plays later when the drive ended in another touchdown.
likes versatility in his players and is known for being aggressive at times. Those gambles on fourth down are why he has the nickname "Riverboat Ron." Having a player who used to be a quarterback is another tool to make sure those gambles work in his favor.