The Saints are in win now mode but this week they made a move to secure their future by signing Michael Thomas to a massive 5 year $100 Million extension beyond this season, keeping Thomas with the Saints until the end of the 2024 season and making him the highest paid non-QB in the NFL.
The deal also includes $61 Million in guarantees, showing how much the Saints value their star receiver and how much they want him to be a big part of their long term future. Thomas has proven to be an incredibly consistent threat with the most receptions over the last three seasons and the most by any receiver during their first three year in the league. That has helped the fourth year receiver to amass at least 1100 yards in each of his seasons in the league, with a 100 yard increase year on year.
The Saints simply had to pay Michael Thomas, he is crucial to the team’s success with twice as many receiving yards (1405) as any other Saint and 80 more receptions than any other receiver (125, though Alvin Kamara did have 81 receptions). One reason he had to be re-signed so early is the fact that he fell to them in the middle of the second round in the 2016 NFL draft, meaning the Saints didn’t get a fifth year option. With the receiver holding out of training camp, New Orleans had to keep him happy and certainly want to let Thomas test free agency at the end of the season.
As you can see in the table below showing receiving yards for WRs selected in rounds one & two of the 2016 draft, Thomas leaves the receivers drafted before him in the dust. Thomas has the three best season totals among the group and even Thomas’ rookie receiving yards would rank fourth among career receiving yards, the Saints playmaker has increased his production in year on year too.
|Corey Coleman||15th Pick||CLE/|
|Will Fuller||21st Pick||HOU||635||423||503||1561|
|Josh Doctson||22nd Pick||WAS||66||502||532||1100|
|Laquon Treadwell||23rd Pick||MIN||15||200||302||517|
|Sterling Shepard||40th Pick||NYG||683||731||872||2286|
|Michael Thomas||47th Pick||NO||1137||1245||1405||3787|
|Tyler Boyd||55th Pick||CIN||603||225||1028||1856|
The bad news for the Saints is that with just under $8 Million for 2019, Thomas will play with a cap number was $6.1 Million, carried over from his rookie deal. With an average of just under $20 Million a year, Thomas will count heavily against the cap well into the 2020s. That being said, with the collective bargaining agreement being renegotiated in 2021, and multiple new revenue streams for the NFL, the league is likely to see further big jumps in the salary cap in the coming years. And more importantly, if Thomas can replicate his first three seasons in the league for years to come, this contract will be a bargain.
Michael Thomas has it all, the bulk to box out defenders for first downs and great hands that very rarely see a ball dropped, making him a hugely reliable safety blanket for Drew Brees. Then you add in game-breaking speed to beat defenders deep and 23 career touchdowns showing him as a redzone threat; it is hard to find a more complete receiver in the league today.
Now with this deal keeping Michael Thomas in Louisiana until 2024, he and Cameron Jordan are the pieces that the Saints will build around over the next half decade.