Sports

Saints restructure Michael Thomas’ contract, assuring All-Pro WR stays put in 2022, per report


If you were one of many NFL fans wondering if the Michael Thomas era was over for the New Orleans Saints, you now have your answer: it is not. The two-time All-Pro wide receiver has been webbed in controversy regarding his status with the team as of late, and that’s saying the very least. But, finally quelling any talk of potentially parting ways with Thomas, the Saints have reportedly restructured his contract in a move that not only garners them much-needed cap space, but keeps one of the best receivers in the NFL in Louisiana.

Thomas’ compensation for 2022 ($14.565 million) has been converted into a signing bonus, per Field Yates of ESPN, along with that of All-Pro offensive tackle Ryan Ramczyk ($18.206 million) to create a robust $26.217 million in cap space ahead of NFL free agency. Restructuring the contract of Thomas alone gained the Saints roughly $10 million, and while that’s a more than solid figure, the team could’ve opted to hold off, either releasing or trading him as a post-June 1 move, and netted much more — to the tune of $15.8 million.

In other words, they wanted both the cap savings and Thomas.

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The two sides still have much to work through over the next several months, with the 28-year-old still recovering from injur(ies) that ultimately cost him the entirety of the 2021 season. It was declared in January 2021 that Thomas would undergo surgery to repair a torn deltoid and ligaments in his ankle, but he waited until June to do so, a move that infuriated head coach Sean Payton and the Saints front office — the delayed decision guaranteeing he’d miss a large chunk of the regular season. 

The relationship became more sour from that point forward (keeping in mind the rift began in 2020), and it was alleged that Thomas ignored calls from both Payton and the team’s medical staff for months before finally going under the knife last summer. Two days after that allegation surfaced, Thomas fired back, implying the organization was attempting to damage his reputation. Fast forward to November, when the three-time Pro Bowler declared he suffered a “small setback” in his rehabilitation from the initial injury to his ankle and would not suit up at all until 2022 — with the entire NFL wondering if that would be for the Saints.

With Payton having waved goodbye to the Saints, there might be a more clear path for reconciliation between Thomas and the newly-promoted head coach Dennis Allen. But given the restructure, he won’t have a choice in the matter. If he’s healthy enough to take the field (which is far from a foregone conclusion at this point), the Saints expect him to do so, having played in only five games over the last two seasons after signing a five-year, $100 million contract extension in 2019 that included $61 million in guaranteed money.

All they have to figure out now is who’ll throw the ball to him.





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