While New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick took the high road in reaction to New York Jets wide receiver Demaryius Thomas’ critical comment about his stint with the squad, ESPN analyst and host Stephen A. Smith did not mince any words when he spoke his mind about the situation. During Thursday’s “First Take," Smith called Thomas delusional for saying that his short stint with the Patriots was “waste of time” and his trade to the Jets was “insulting." I think he’s a bit delusional if he expected anything different than what he got because he’s not a high-end producer anymore,” said Smith, adding that Thomas is not a star any longer.

Smith added that Thomas, as a player already past his prime, should expect the Patriots to make moves on how to improve their team. “It’s been years since you’ve had a 1,000-yard season, what the hell do you expect?” Smith said of Thomas, who will turn 32 in December. In three games with the Jets, Thomas has caught nine passes for 108 yards and no touchdown.

Thomas insulted by trade to Jets

The Patriots signed Thomas, a five-time Pro Bowler, to a contract in April while he was still recovering from an Achilles injury that he sustained in December 2018. He played in the Patriots’ final preseason game on Aug. 29, catching seven passes for 87 yards and two touchdowns in their 31-29 loss to the New York Giants.

Two days later, the Patriots released Thomas during final roster cuts. New England re-signed him on Sept. 2 before trading him to the Jets on Sept. 11, two days after the Patriots signed troubled wide receiver Antonio Brown. "It was insulting, for sure,” Thomas told the New York Daily News' Manish Mehta. The veteran wide receiver said he should have signed with the Jets immediately after his first cut instead of “wasting his time” in his second stint with the Patriots.

Thomas also called his release “disrespectful”, feeling that he was treated as a rookie.

Belichick takes high road

In response to Thomas’ tirade, Belichick described the veteran wide receiver during his press conference at Gillette Stadium as a “great kid," adding that he has a ton of respect for him. Belichick also lauded Thomas for being professional as he did everything that the Patriots asked him to do.

Leading up to Thomas’ trade, Belichick explained that circumstances surrounding the Patriots changed several times. The veteran head coach added that he’s always truthful to Thomas about his situation with the team. While Belichick tried to downplay the situation, Thomas’ comment will be an interesting storyline when the unbeaten Patriots (6-0) take on the Jets (1-4) on Monday Night Football at MetLife Stadium. The Patriots entered the week as a 10-point favorite over the Jets in early betting odds.