Michael Thomas agrees to restructured deal with Saints
Thomas, who is under contract through the 2024 season, saw his base salary cut from $15.5 million to $1.165 million in 2023 while adding a $31.755 million bonus for the 2024 league year, which is fully guaranteed on the third league day of 2023 (March 17, 2023). Thomas also received a $902,941 signing bonus this week, the equivalent of an additional $15.35 million per game over his original 2022 salary, when the deal was signed (the Saints have restructured the deal several times).
Beyond the nearly $1M bonus, this renegotiation reinforces that any decision Thomas makes about his future with the franchise will be well made, as the team would be unlikely to move on from Thomas if he remains on the roster after getting a massive roster bonus. almost $32M is guaranteed.
If the team decides to move on from Thomas before then, he would enter free agency immediately. If it happens before free agency begins, Thomas could find a new team to tie other free agent wide receivers to a new team.
For the Saints, this move allows flexibility early in the league year.
If the team decides to cut Thomas before securing his roster bonus, it would likely do so with the June 1 designation. Under the previous terms of the deal, the team would have had to carry Thomas’ $15.5 million in salary against their salary cap until June 2nd before eventually getting cap relief.
With his reduced salary, the team has more than $14 million in additional cap flexibility, and ten million dollars over the cap will be critical for a franchise currently projected. Any release for Thomas will result in a total cap hit of around $26 million.
If the team decides to keep Thomas, it would still realize the savings through 2023, but would see a significant increase in its financial commitment to Thomas in 2024 with nearly $32 million in cap space on the books.
After setting the NFL record for most catches in a single season in 2019 with 149, Thomas has been limited to 10 games over the last three seasons due to injuries.
Thomas, who turns 30 on March 3, was a 2016 second-round pick of the Saints and set a franchise record with 1,137 receiving yards in his first season. Thomas was a key part of New Orleans’ offense for four seasons, but was injured in the 2020 season opener after rolling a teammate on the ankle.
Thomas has battled injuries since his record-setting 2019 season in which he earned NFL Offensive Player of the Year honors. He had a public discussion with the team about the timing of ankle surgery before the 2021 season. Thomas was placed on the physically unavailable list to start that season, and a setback prevented him from returning.
“I mean, even the year I played [a total of nine games in 2020], I was injured, and I was still helping this team win games and move the chains. And I was clearly on an ankle,” Thomas said earlier this season, publicly addressing the incident for the first time.
Thomas and the team seemed to smooth things over after new Saints coach Dennis Allen flew in to see him in the 2022 season. Thomas started the 2022 season healthy and caught three touchdowns in the first two games, but a toe injury ended his season.
The Saints picked up a wide receiver Chris Olave In the first round of the 2022 draft, and Olave, who at one point was a contender for Offensive Rookie of the Year, has set the stage to be a potential successor to Thomas with 982 yards this year.
This report used information from ESPN’s Katherine Terrell.
#Michael #Thomas #agrees #restructured #deal #Saints