New Orleans Saints and Wide Future Michael Thomas On Friday, he agreed to a restructured contract, according to the source, with an eye on the league next year.
Thomas, who is under contract through the 2024 season, had his base salary cut in 2023 from $15.5 million to $1.165 million while adding a list bonus of $31.755 million for 2024 that becomes fully guaranteed on Day 3 of the 2023 league year (March 17, 2023) . Thomas also earned a signing bonus of $902,941 this week, the equivalent of one extra game check to his original 2022 base salary of $15.35 million upon signing the deal (the deal has been restructured by the Saints on multiple occasions).
In addition to the nearly $1 million bonus, this renegotiation reinforces that any decision made about Thomas’ future with the franchise will be executed quickly, as the team is unlikely to move on from Thomas if he remains on the roster once he receives a roughly $32 million bonus. A dollar becomes guaranteed.
If a team chooses to transfer from Thomas at any time before then, he will enter free agency immediately. If that happens before free agency begins, Thomas can find a new team earlier when other free agent wide receivers can tackle a new team.
For the Saints, the move allows for flexibility during the start of the league year.
If the team decides to drop Thomas before his bonus is guaranteed, it will likely do so with a post-June 1 appointment. Under the previous terms of the deal, the team would have had to take on Thomas’ $15.5 million salary cap on his salary cap through June 2 before he was eventually granted a relief from the cap.
With his pay cut, the team has more than $14 million in additional cap flexibility that will be necessary for the franchise currently expected to exceed the cap by tens of millions of dollars. Any release on Thomas would result in a maximum cost of nearly $26 million.
If the team decides to keep Thomas, he will still realize maximum savings for 2023 but will see his financial commitment to Thomas skyrocket in 2024 with roster bonus around $32 million on the books.
After setting the NFL record for most catches in a season in 2019 with 149, Thomas has been limited by injuries to just 10 games over the past three seasons.
Thomas, who turns 30 on March 3, was a 2016 second-round pick for the Saints and set the franchise record for rookie receiving yards with 1,137 yards in his senior season. Thomas was a pivotal part of New Orleans’ offense for four seasons but was injured in the 2020 season opener after a teammate sprained his ankle.
Thomas has struggled with injuries since his record-breaking 2019 season, when he was named the NFL’s Offensive Player of the Year. He had a public disagreement with the team over the timing of ankle surgery prior to the 2021 season. Thomas was placed on the Physically Unable to Perform list to start that season, and a setback prevented him from returning.
“I mean, until the year I played [a total of nine games in 2020]I was playing injured, and I was still helping this team win games and move the series. And I was obviously on one ankle,” Thomas said earlier this season, addressing the incident publicly for the first time.
Thomas and the team seemed to have smoothed things out after new Saints head coach Dennis Allen flew in to see him in the 2022 offseason. Thomas started the 2022 season healthy and caught three touchdowns in the first two games, but a toe injury ended his season.
The Saints drafted a wide receiver Chris Olaf In the first round of the 2022 draft, Olaf, who was at one point a contender for Offensive Rookie of the Year honors, set the stage as a potential successor to Thomas with 982 yards this year.
Information from ESPN’s Katharine Terrell was used in this report.