The Denver Broncos intend to sign tight end Julius Thomas to a long-term deal.

That doesn't mean they plan to reward him with a contract similar to the $40 million deal signed this week by New Orleans Saints tight end Jimmy Graham.

“Even though Julius had a tremendous year for us, he’s only [played] 23 games," Broncos general manager John Elway told USA Today. "We want Julius to be a Bronco for a long time and we think he has tremendous upside, but he’s not at that level."

Thomas caught 65 passes for 788 yards and a dozen touchdowns last season.

That's a breakthrough season, but it's not up to Graham's level.

The Broncos are in talks with both wide receiver Demaryius Thomas and Julius Thomas.

“Nothing is going to get done before camp, but we’ll keep talking to them in camp,” Elway said. “I’m never going to go into the season, but the first couple of weeks, we can continue to talk about it. After the second week of the preseason, we’ll want to have had something done, one way or another.”

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Aaron Wilson covers the Ravens for The Baltimore Sun