On Wednesday morning, the Saints and Michael Thomas agreed to a five-year, $100MM extension with $61MM guaranteed, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets. The new deal makes him the league’s highest-paid receiver of all-time on a yearly basis.
With the new deal, Thomas is tied to New Orleans through the 2024 season. In 2019, he’ll still earn a paltry $1.148MM in the final year of his rookie contract, but he’s already locked in plenty of dough at signing.
The deal marks plenty of firsts for the Saints as well. They’ve never paid a non-QB skill-position player more than $10MM per year, but they’re now paying Thomas $20MM per annum. The previous watermark was owned by tight end Jimmy Graham, who banked $10MM/season before being traded to the Seahawks in 2015.
Last season, Thomas set Saints records with 125 catches and 1,405 yards while adding nine touchdown grabs. He was wildly efficient, too – Thomas’ catch rate of 84.5% was the highest of any NFL receiver since at least 2001.
With Thomas’ deal done, the attention will now shift to fellow standout wide receivers in search of their own monster contracts. Unlike Thomas, Falcons star Julio Jones has participated in training camp, but he is expecting a contract that will either match or exceed Thomas’ in average annual value. There’s also Bengals star A.J. Green to consider, though his recent injury may be a barrier in talks.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.