Michael Thomas (WR)

Extra Points: Thomas, Meredith, Buccaneers

Soon after Michael Thomas received his five-year, $100MM extension from the Saints, we heard that it wasn’t quite $100MM in reality. The base of the deal is $96.25MM, with incentives in the final couple of years that will be very hard to reach which could bump it up to $100MM. Now we have full details on the contract, courtesy of Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com. Florio has a year by year breakdown off all the incentives and bonuses Thomas will get. To reach the full value of $100MM, Thomas “needs to do each of the following in 2022 and 2023: Catch 100 passes, gain 1,400 yards, score 12 touchdowns, and get to the playoffs.”

Florio notes that the fully guaranteed portion of the deal is $35.64MM, “covering the first two years and a slice of 2021.” He seems to think the Saints aren’t actually tied to Thomas for too long if they don’t want to be, writing “the rolling guarantees give the Saints plenty of flexibility beyond 2020.” Thomas has put up absurd numbers in his first three years in the league, and he was the only consistent receiver New Orleans had for a lot of last season. Drew Brees was often throwing to a rotating cast of undrafted free agents and castoffs last year, so it’s safe to say they need Thomas.

Here’s more from around the league:

  • Receiver Cameron Meredith landed on his feet as he signed with the Patriots earlier today, but he apparently isn’t fully healthy. New England placed him on the active/PUP list after inking him, per Doug Kyed of NESN.com. Meredith had a breakout 2016 campaign but then missed the entire 2017 season with a devastating knee injury and hasn’t been the same since. The Saints finally gave up on him and released him earlier this week after he was never able to fully recover during his time in New Orleans. Since it’s the active/PUP list and not the reserve/PUP list, Meredith could be activated at any time and resume practicing. He isn’t the only Patriots receiver that’s banged up, as the Pats are also waiting on Demaryius Thomas and Julian Edelman to heal up.
  • Buccaneers coach Bruce Arians promised to hire women when he got hired by Tampa Bay, and he followed through by bringing on two female assistant coaches back in March. He didn’t stop there, as the Bucs have also hired Carly Helfand as a scouting assistant, per Jenna Laine of ESPN.com. Laine notes that she also worked for Penn and the Philadelphia Soul of the AFL. She was the only woman interviewed out of ten candidates, and Laine notes the Buccaneers were “very impressed” with her.
  • In case you missed it, we took a look at a few potential landing spots for Redskins left tackle Trent Williams.

Fallout From Michael Thomas’ Deal With Saints

On Wednesday, Michael Thomas and the Saints agreed to a deal that will keep the standout wide receiver in the fold through the 2024 season. The contract was initially reported to be worth $100MM over five years, but those numbers don’t quite tell the whole story.

Here’s the latest on Thomas’ shiny new pact:

  • Thomas extension has a base value of $19.25MM per year, Mike Florio of PFT tweets. He can get to $20MM per year – giving him the initial reported value of $100MM in total, but as Florio’s source puts it, “He has to do some crazy sh-t in the last two years of the deal.”
  • Thomas’ new contract is the first real movement at the wide receiver position since A.J. Green‘s 2015 extension, Jason Fitzgerald of Over The Cap tweets. The yearly record set by Green’s deal has been broken multiple times in the last four years, but this is the first contract to truly top its $20MM in inflated annual value.
  • The Thomas deal will play well in the Saints’ locker room, Jeff Duncan of the The Athletic tweets. The team’s core of young stars – including Alvin Kamara, Marshon Lattimore, Ryan Ramczyk, and Sheldon Rankins – will know they’ll be taken care of if they continue to produce.
  • The holdout-ending deal was the smart move by the Saints, NJ.com’s Darryl Slater opines. The monster numbers could come back to haunt them, but Slater’s feeling is that it was worthwhile to end Thomas’ holdout, especially considering the fact that Drew Brees has a limited championship window.

Saints, Michael Thomas Agree To Deal

It’s a done deal. And it’s one for the record books (for now, at least). 

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.

Down the line, Thomas’ new deal will also have ramifications for the Cowboys and Chiefs as they consider extensions for Amari Cooper and Tyreek Hill.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Saints, Michael Thomas Nearing Deal (Again)

The Saints and wide receiver Michael Thomas are close on a new deal, Mike Florio of PFT hears. This was more or less what we heard late last week, but, at long last, the two sides sound like they’re at the goal line. 

Thomas has been holding out of Saints camp as he awaits a new deal, much to the chagrin of GM Mickey Loomis. Florio senses that Thomas is gunning for $20MM/year on a five-year deal while the Saints have pitched $19MM/season. Still, there are structural and guarantee issues to be resolved. For now, the Saints have the right to fine Thomas $40K per day missed in camp.

In 2018, Thomas led the league with 125 receptions while racking up 1,405 receiving yards and nine touchdowns.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFC Notes: Thomas, Saints, Elliott, Cowboys, Nkemdiche, Cardinals, Daniels

We heard earlier today that the Saints were close to getting a deal done with receiver Michael Thomas, but it apparently hasn’t been the smoothest process. Saints GM Mickey Loomis has been frustrated with the negotiations, sources told Charles Robinson of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link). “The Saints have offered to make Thomas the highest paid wideout in the NFL, with a contract that solidly exceeds Odell Beckham Jr. Loomis feels it’s a great offer w/ great structure,” Robinson writes. Loomis seems to feel like an agreement should’ve been reached by now, but Thomas’ camp is clearly still holding out for something more. Meanwhile, Thomas will continue to stay away from training camp as he awaits his new contract.

Saints coach Sean Payton addressed the media after practice today, and said he isn’t worried about the fact Thomas isn’t at camp (Twitter video link). Payton seemed confident that he’ll be back before too long, saying he’s “optimistic it’ll get done soon.” The most recent reporting suggests the Ohio State product will be getting $19-20MM annually. Thomas has established himself as one of the league’s best receivers the past couple of years, and New Orleans’ offense relies on him heavily. Thomas has the most receptions ever for a player through his first three years, and it sounds like it’s only a matter of time before the Saints break the bank for him.

Here’s more from around the NFC:

  • Speaking of players looking to get paid, Ezekiel Elliott is remaining away from the Cowboys as he seeks a new deal. Head coach Jason Garrett had said he expected Elliott to show up on time, but then he didn’t. The good news is the two sides are apparently still talking. The Cowboys “held contract discussions with Elliott’s agent” on Thursday night, a source told Calvin Watkins of The Dallas Morning News. Unfortunately the conversation didn’t lead anywhere, as Watkins reports that “talks remain stale.” Elliott is reportedly looking to eclipse the deal Todd Gurley got from the Rams, and it’s unclear if the Cowboys are going to meet that asking price. Dallas has a lot on their plate with extensions due for several players, and it’ll be interesting to watch how this unfolds.
  • Former first-round pick Robert Nkemdiche doesn’t appear to be making a good impression with the Cardinals’ new coaching staff. The 29th overall pick in the 2016 draft is coming off an ACL tear, and head coach Kliff Kingsbury said the Ole Miss product showed up to camp out of shape, per Kent Somers of The Arizona Republic (Twitter link). Somers adds that Nkemdiche “apparently neglected his overall physical condition while rehabbing from ACL.” Nkemdiche is already on thin ice, and this certainly isn’t going to help his case. We’ve heard that he’s likely to be cut, and he’s also facing a likely suspension for a June arrest. He’s only started six games in his three years in the league, and is looking like a bust.
  • Mike Daniels signed with the Lions after visiting Detroit and Cleveland, and those were far from the only two teams interested. 13 teams called about the former Packer, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network (Twitter link). Daniels got a $9.1MM deal from the Lions, and Rapsheet reports that four other teams “were willing to do that deal or better,” but that Daniels wanted to play for Matt Patricia as well as the opportunity to play against Green Bay twice a year. Daniels is still only 30, and could prove to be a nice addition for Detroit’s defense.

Saints, Michael Thomas Nearing Deal

The Saints and Michael Thomas are “close” to getting a deal done, Mike Florio of PFT hears. It’s still not a done deal, but Florio expects a five-year extension worth either $19MM or $20MM per season. 

There might not be much left to debate in terms of overall value, but as with any NFL deal, the two sides are probably still haggling over guarantees, bonuses, and the all-important cash flow. In the interim, Thomas will reportedly continue to stay away from training camp.

At one point in time, Thomas was reportedly pushing for $22MM per year, which would have blown the contracts of Odell Beckham Jr. and Antonio Brown out of the water. Thomas’ reduced ask should be more palatable for the Saints, who are still in a tricky cap situation thanks in large part to Drew Brees‘ contract.

Still only 26, Thomas is one of the best young wide receivers in the NFL. Last year, he led the league with 125 catches while recording 1,405 receiving yards and nine touchdowns.

Reportedly, fellow NFC South star Julio Jones is also on the cusp of a new extension. His brand new deal with the Falcons could become official before the end of business on Friday.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Saints’ Michael Thomas To Skip Camp

Michael Thomas has not arrived at Saints training camp and won’t attend until the two sides agree on a new deal, according to Mike Garafolo and Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link). It’s a surprising stance from the wide receiver, particularly since he is an enthusiastic player in scrimmage. 

The Saints and Thomas also seem to be rather close on terms. Last month, Thomas lowered his demand to $22MM/year. Then, this week, we learned that the Saints offered him something with an average annual value of $18-$19MM. Still, he’s looking to push the pace and is willing to potentially absorb fines in order to get the deal that he wants.

The former second-round pick leads the league in receptions (321) over the past three seasons and ranks fifth in yards (3,787) since the start of the 2016 season. Thomas’ 1,405 receiving yards last season broke the Saints’ single-season record.

For now, the 26-year-old Thomas is slated for free agency after the final year of his rookie contract. Without a new deal, he’ll earn just $1.148MM in 2019.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Latest On Saints, Michael Thomas

Michael Thomas sought $22MM per year on a Saints extension, and this was a reduced demand, last month. The Saints appear to prefer their top wideout end up just shy of $20MM AAV.

The Saints, though, may be moving up gradually. Their latest offer came in between $18-$19MM AAV, Charles Robinson of Yahoo.com reports (on Twitter). This is consistent with what the team was offering in June, only they did not look to be close to a $19MM average at that point.

Odell Beckham Jr.‘s $18MM-AAV pact remains the league’s standard, but Julio Jones is expected to eclipse that soon. Thomas, 26, is lurking as a possible candidate to then surpass Jones as the NFL’s highest-paid wideout. A deal worth $20MM AAV, with certain structure and guarantees, would likely be enough to convince Thomas to sign, Robinson adds.

Beckham and Mike Evans pace the receiver market in total and full guarantees, with the former’s figures at $40.9MM and $65MM, respectively. Of course, Jones is almost certainly pushing to land atop both lists. Being four years younger than Jones, Thomas may be as well. The Saints and Thomas have been negotiating for more than a month. One season remains on Thomas’ rookie contract.

The former second-round pick leads the league in receptions (321) over the past three seasons and ranks fifth in yards (3,787) since the start of the 2016 season. Thomas’ 1,405 receiving yards last season broke the Saints’ single-season record.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Saints’ Michael Thomas Reduces Asking Price

The Saints and Michael Thomas seem to be making some progress on contract talks, as Jeff Duncan of The Times-Picayune tweets. Thomas’ camp has lowered its asking price to $22MM/year, though they remain about $4MM apart in terms of average annual value. Nothing is imminent, as Thomas is currently on vacation in Europe.

Already, the Saints are willing to go to $18MM/year, which would match Odell Beckham Jr.’s average annual value. If the two sides meet in the middle and split the difference, Thomas will be the league’s highest-paid wide receiver in terms of new money AAV, though a forthcoming extension for Julio Jones could knock him down a notch.

Thomas, who leads the league in receptions (321) over the past three seasons and ranks fifth in yards (3,787) since the start of the 2016 season, is likely looking to be the NFL’s highest-paid receiver in every major contract category, which would include AAV, total value, total guarantees, and full guarantees. It’s a safe bet that he’ll check most of those boxes after notching a league-leading 125 catches, a career-high 1,405 yards, and a career-high matching nine touchdowns.

Thomas’ effort landed him a First-Team All-Pro nod in 2018 and at the age of 26, he’s just getting warmed up.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Saints, Michael Thomas Far Apart On Deal

The Saints and Michael Thomas are far apart in contract talks and no extension is imminent, according to Jeff Duncan of NOLA.com (on Twitter). Still, the two sides remain motivated to get a deal done and hope to have one in place by the start of training camp. 

This news somewhat conflicts with what we heard earlier this week. The two sides seemed to be in a good place, especially since the Saints are reportedly comfortable with making Thomas the highest-paid wide receiver in the NFL.

For one reason or another, the two sides have hit a snag. It’s possible that the Saints have offered to make Thomas the highest-paid wideout by certain metrics such as average annual value, but his guarantees might not be on par with that of Odell Beckham Jr., who leads the way with $65MM in total guarantees and a whopping $41MM guaranteed at signing. Thomas, who leads the league in receptions (321) over the past three seasons and ranks fifth in yards (3,787) since the start of the ’16 campaign, is likely seeking to be the new leader across every major category.

Thomas recently signed with agent Andrew Kessler after cutting ties with David Mulugheta in November. a sign that he is not content with simply cracking the top five at the position. The Saints may want to get something done with Thomas sooner rather than later, because his asking price could inch up if the rival Falcons sign Julio Jones to a multi-year extension first.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.