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Shamarko Lanell Thomas (born February 23, 1991) is an American football safety for the Denver Broncos of the National Football League (NFL). He played college football at Syracuse, and was drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the fourth round of the 2013 NFL Draft. Thomas has also been a member of the New York Jets, Buffalo Bills, and Indianapolis Colts.

Shamarko Thomas
refer to caption
Thomas with the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2015
No. 38 – Denver Broncos
Personal information
Born: (1991-02-23) February 23, 1991 (age 28)
Virginia Beach, Virginia
Height:5 ft 9 in (1.75 m)
Weight:217 lb (98 kg)
Career information
High school:Ocean Lakes
(Virginia Beach, Virginia)
NFL Draft:2013 / Round: 4 / Pick: 111
Career history
 * Offseason and/or practice squad member only
Roster status:Active
Career highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics as of 2018
Total tackles:69
Pass deflections:0
Forced fumbles:1
Fumble recoveries:1
Player stats at


Early yearsEdit

Thomas was born in Virginia Beach, Virginia. He attended Ocean Lakes High School in Virginia Beach, and he played for the Ocean Lakes Dolphins high school football team. He was named 2008 first-team all-state, all-region and All-Tidewater, and was a two-time first-team all-district selection. He set school records in career tackles, interceptions and defensive touchdowns. In 2008, he recorded a team-high 102 tackles, six interceptions, 11 pass breakups, and one blocked field goal as a team captain, leading the squad to a 12–1 record, while earning 2008 team defensive MVP honors. He led the team in tackles as a junior.

Thomas was also a track star at Ocean Lakes High School. He earned all-state honors competing in the 100 meters, and as the anchor of the 4 x 100 meter relay that placed seventh in Virginia. At the 2009 Beach District Championships, he placed first in the 100 meters (10.76s) and third in the 200 meters (21.78s).[1]

College careerEdit

Thomas attended Syracuse University, where he was a member of the Syracuse Orange football team from 2009 to 2012. During his career, he started 43 of 48 games in which he played, recording 263 tackles, two interceptions and four quarterback sacks. As a senior in 2012, he was a first-team All-Big East Conference selection.[2]

Professional careerEdit


Thomas was projected by many analysts to be a mid-round selection, likely going in the third or fourth rounds. Although he had good coverage skills and was thought to be really tough, many scouts thought his lack of height would be an issue when covering tight ends. He was invited to the NFL Combine and performed well, but during his 40 yard dash, he fell. He was unable to perform the three-cone drill due to a hamstring injury but did make it up at Syracuse's Pro Day. Thomas was comfortable enough with his combine performance that he chose not to do any exercises, besides three-cone drill, at his Pro Day.[3] He was also rated fourth among 177 qualifying strong safeties by[4]

Pre-draft measurables
Ht Wt 40-yard dash 10-yd split 20-yd split 20-ss 3-cone Vert jump Broad BP
5 ft 9 in
(1.75 m)
213 lb
(97 kg)
4.42 s 1.52 s 2.49 s 4.26 s 6.84 s 40.5 in
(1.03 m)
11 ft 1 in
(3.38 m)
28 reps
All values from NFL Combine[5]

Pittsburgh SteelersEdit

2013 seasonEdit

The Pittsburgh Steelers selected Thomas in the fourth round (111th overall) of the 2013 NFL Draft. The Steelers traded their third round pick in the 2014 NFL Draft to the Cleveland Browns in order to acquire their fourth round pick (111th overall) in the draft to select Thomas.

On May 16, 2013, Thomas signed a four-year, $2.61 million contract that includes a signing bonus of $453,152.[6]

He entered his rookie season as the third-string backup to Pro-bowl veteran Troy Polamalu and Damon Cromartie-Smith.[7] He made his professional debut in the Steelers' season opener against the Tennessee Titans and finished with two tackles. On September 22, 2013, Thomas had his first career start and finished the loss with one tackle against the Chicago Bears. On November 3, 2013, he had his best game of the season after he made a season-high 8 total tackles during the Steelers' 31–55 loss to the New England Patriots. During a Week 10 matchup against the Buffalo Bills, he suffered an ankle injury that sidelined him for the next two games. Before the injury, Thomas had been able to earn the backup strong safety position and mainly played the primary safety in the defense's sub packages. Veteran Will Allen was signed by the Steelers to substitute for Thomas while he recovered from his injury and when he returned he was unable to win his former position from Allen.[8]

He finished his rookie season with a total of 29 tackles in 14 games and two starts.[9]

2014 seasonEdit

During the offseason, Thomas was invited by Troy Polamalu to train with him in California under Polamalu's trainer Marv Marinovich. He was the first player Polamalu ever invited. They used iso-kinetic training to focused on fast-twitch muscle fibers.[8] He entered training camp battling Will Allen for the backup position behind Polamalu, and won the backup position after Allen was moved to the backup free safety position behind Mike Mitchell.[7] In his second season with the Steelers, he was unable to receive prominent playing time and was mainly used as a gunner on special teams. During the 2014 season, Thomas played in 11 games, none as a starter, recording 5 solo tackles and his first career forced fumble at Carolina Panthers in Week 3.

2015 seasonEdit

On April 9, 2015, Polamalu announced his retirement from the NFL, and Thomas was assumed to be the heir apparent.[8] After a rough preseason, it was determined that Thomas would be the backup behind Will Allen.[7] Thomas played sparsely during the season, registering just 12 tackles in 15 games.[10]

2016 seasonEdit

Thomas entered the offseason with an opportunity to regain the starting position after the Pittsburgh Steelers decided to overhaul their pass defense after ranking 28th in 2015. With former starting strong safety Will Allen gone, Thomas battled rookie Sean Davis and veteran Robert Golden for the starting strong safety position. He lost the job to Golden and was slated to be his backup to begin the regular season.[7] He was placed on injured reserve on December 24, 2016.[11]

New York JetsEdit

On June 2, 2017, Thomas signed with the New York Jets.[12] On September 2, 2017, he was released by the Jets.[13]

Buffalo BillsEdit

On October 3, 2017, Thomas was signed by the Buffalo Bills.[14]

Indianapolis ColtsEdit

On July 26, 2018, Thomas signed with the Indianapolis Colts.[15] Thomas was released by the Colts on August 11, 2018.[16]

Denver BroncosEdit

On August 13, 2018, Thomas signed with the Denver Broncos.[17] He was released on September 1, 2018.[18] He was re-signed on September 11, 2018.[19] He was released on December 10, 2018.[20] On January 2, 2019, Thomas was re-signed to reserve/future contract.[21]

Personal lifeEdit

While attending Syracuse University in 2010, Thomas lost his mother and father in a span of nine months. His mother, Ebeth Shabazz, died from a heart condition and his father died after being involved in a motorcycle accident. As the oldest child in his family, Thomas questioned whether or not to enter the 2012 NFL Draft so he could have an income to help his siblings. He has four brothers and one sister.[3]


  1. ^ "Beach District Outdoor Track Championship".
  2. ^ "BIG EAST Announces 2012 Postseason Football Honors".
  3. ^ a b "NFL Draft Profile: Shamarko Thomas". Retrieved November 30, 2016.
  4. ^ "Shamarko Thomas/Syracuse, SS: 2013 NFL Draft". Retrieved November 30, 2016.
  5. ^ "NFL Events: Combine Player Profiles – Shamarko Thomas".
  6. ^ " Shamarko Thomas". Retrieved November 30, 2016.
  7. ^ a b c d " Pittsburgh Steelers Depth Chart". Retrieved November 30, 2016.
  8. ^ a b c Jeff Hartman (July 26, 2014). "Troy Polamalu's Ninja training routine works for Shamarko Thomas". Retrieved November 30, 2016.
  9. ^ "NFL Player Profile: Shamarko Thomas". Retrieved November 30, 2016.
  10. ^ "With Troy gone, it's Thomas' turn". April 13, 2015.
  11. ^ "Maxey and Shabazz promoted to active roster". December 24, 2016.
  12. ^ Lange, Randy (June 1, 2017). "Jets Sign Ex-Steelers DB Shamarko Thomas".
  13. ^ Lange, Randy (September 2, 2017). "Jets Reduce to 53 with 23 Player Moves".
  14. ^ Brown, Chris (October 3, 2017). "Bills sign WR Brown, S Elston back to the roster; sign S Thomas".
  15. ^ "Roster Move: Colts Sign Safety Shamarko Thomas". July 26, 2018.
  16. ^ "Colts jettison Shamarko Thomas days after ejection". August 11, 2018.
  17. ^ "Broncos sign S Shamarko Thomas, place Jamal Carter on injured reserve". August 13, 2018.
  18. ^ DiLalla, Aric (September 1, 2018). "Broncos trim roster to 53 players".
  19. ^ "Broncos sign S Shamarko Thomas to active roster, Niles Scott to practice squad". September 11, 2018.
  20. ^ "Report: Broncos waive Shamarko Thomas, promote Trey Marshall". December 10, 2018.
  21. ^ Swanson, Ben (January 2, 2019). "Broncos sign 10 players to future contracts".

External linksEdit