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Michael Thomas Gets Paid with $100-Million Extension

Michael Thomas and the New Orleans Saints have reached agreement on a five-year, $100-million extension that apparently includes $61 million in guarantees and ends a holdout. Thomas' player comment in FOA 2019 goes into just how good he's been. His single-season catch rate of 85.0 percent last year is the highest of any wide receiver over 40 targets in our entire database, going all the way back to 1986. Thomas has ranked second, fifth, and third in DYAR in his three NFL seasons.

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5 comments, Last at 01 Aug 2019, 4:09pm

1 Da Cap

The best bit in the ESPN article was this: "As usual, the Saints will have to get creative with their bookkeeping to fit Thomas under the salary cap."

As if there were any lingering doubts they were going all in on this year...

3 Usually extensions hand the…

Usually extensions hand the player a stack of cash right at the outset, and that will be a combination of signing bonus and increased salary. For example, Gurley signed a five-year extension with a 21m signing bonus, but no increase in 2018 salary, so his 950k cap number became 5.15m (and then he hit some escalators to bring the cap hit higher). On the other hand, Antonio Brown signed an extension when traded to the Raiders, and the extension increased base salary by nearly 14m in 2019 compared to what the Steelers were paying. 

Obviously, we're waiting on the structure. At the very least I'd expect something like 5-6m additional cap hit this year from the signing bonus, with an absolute max of 10m (60m/6) arising from the signing bonus. 

4 The structure of the deal is…

The structure of the deal is pretty darn team friendly.

A 20M signing bonus is more than a team would want, but 2020 is the last year where the team cannot realistically cut him.  Every year after that is basically a team option at a fixed salary.

Reasonable to think of this as a 2 year deal (19 and 20) for 36 million.  Which is high, but not crazy, and not really growing the market considering Thomas' youth and excellence.  Then followed by 2021 year for 13 million, at team option, which is low, then 16m for 2022 16.5 for 2023, and finally 20 for 2024.  Putting aside salary cap changes under a potential new CBA, and putting aside that he was already under contract for this year, basically nothing about this contract seems bad for New Orleans.

I suspect Thomas will regret this contract in 2022 or 2023.

5 I agree with you and I'm a…

I agree with you and I'm a little surprised. I mean, it is a great two year payout and that 2021 dead cap number is still high enough that he can mostly assume that he'll get that year's $13 million, but even 3 yr/$49 million is quite a bit more modest than the headline numbers are reporting.

From Thomas's p.o.v., maybe he's seen how successful guys like Julio Jones and Antonio Brown have been (in different ways) in getting new contracts when they still had a lot of time left on their current deals and he's betting that he'll have enough leverage to tear this extension up when it's no longer favorable to him.

No WR will probably ever beat (in cap-adjusted terms) Calvin Johnson's 2012 extension, when he had the leverage of sinking the Lions salary cap by simply playing out the last year of his old-CBA rookie deal.