Though it seemed like a split between Michael Thomas and the Saints was a certainty, there are some question marks about that now.
Just before the final game of the New Orleans Saints season, the team gave longtime wide receiver Michael Thomas a nearly $1 million bonus and a massive restructure to his contract. At the time, it looked like money Thomas would almost certainly never see, and a setup for the team to part ways with him over the offseason.
All signs then pointed to a split between the receiver and team. Thomas has spent his entire pro career with the Saints.
The contract, as was pointed out by Nick Underhill of NewOrleans.football at the time, was the same kind signed by Drew Brees and Malcolm Jenkins before their retirements.
That precedent may not follow suit, though, according to Underhill’s latest report and the latest NFL rumors.
In his column on NewOrleans.football detailing for his subscribers what they heard at the NFL Draft Combine this week, Underhill admitted that calling Thomas’s time in New Orleans done now looks premature (subscription required).
Underhill said that both sides have not completely closed the door on a return, but stipulated that the massive contract Thomas signed to lead to his release will not hold true. The two parties will need to come to a separate agreement.
Michael Thomas, Saints reunion feels surprising
This news is interesting, considering that for the duration of Thomas’s injury struggles, there was a forced storyline that the team and its medical staff wasn’t doing right by Thomas. That had never actually been reported or confirmed, but it was a story many believed to be true based on facts like surgery timelines and reading between the lines on cryptic Tweets.
After appearing in 15 or 16 games in each of the first four seasons of his career, Thomas has played in seven, zero, and three games total in the most recent three seasons, all due to injury. It’s been a depressing reality for both Thomas and the Saints, considering that when Thomas was healthy, he was a top-three receiver in the league, leading the NFL in receiving yards in 2019 and receptions in 2018.
His health is still up in the air, which will make his next contract complicated regardless of where he signs. Expect little of it to be guaranteed and a fair portion of it to be driven by conditional achievement-based bonuses.
The Saints still believe they have the lead in the Derek Carr race. Having a receiver like Thomas for Carr to utilize would be huge for his chances of success in New Orleans, if Thomas is healthy.