The craziest New Orleans Saints offseason stories: No. 5, Pierre Thomas released
By John Hendrix
The New Orleans Saints had themselves another interesting offseason. It’s hard to remember a time in the Sean Payton era when something wasn’t going on. Whether it was the events of Hurricane Katrina, Bounty Gate, or other off the field drama, it’s been a sight to see.
As much as we hate to say it, the events of this year’s offseason weren’t exactly favorable for the New Orleans Saints. We begin a mini-series that focuses on the five biggest and most shocking storylines from the past several months.
Saints release Pierre Thomas
Oct 5, 2014; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Saints running back Pierre Thomas (23) scores on a 27-yard run in the third quarter of their game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports
Pierre Thomas was easily a fan favorite of many. He was known for his versatility and elusiveness, as well as some very memorable plays during his tenure. It didn’t start out perfectly for Thomas, as he went undrafted in the 2007 NFL Draft. Thanks to special teams coach Greg McMahon, who was a coach at Illinois during Thomas’ college days, the Saints brought Pierre Thomas on board to have a shot at making the roster.
It seemed like a long shot, as the Saints used a fourth round selection on Ohio State’s Antonio Pittman. So, like many undrafted rookie free agents, the deck was stacked against Thomas. He ultimately prevailed, as the team released Pittman specifically for Thomas. We know the rest of the story. Thomas shined as a kick returner early, and then moved on to running and pass catching. He was a key element in the Super Bowl run in 2009, and made a handful of memorable plays during the regular season and postseason.
2014 was another fairly strong year for Thomas, but injuries started becoming a factor. Thomas played in eleven games last year, and went on injured reserve following the Atlanta Falcons game in Week 16. We thought he’d return this year with his reduced cost, but we were all mistaken. Entering the offseason with salary cap concerns and assessing future direction with the organization, the Saints did the unthinkable when they informed Pierre Thomas that he’d be released on March 4, 2015.
Pierre Thomas went months without hearing anything from teams, only being a ‘rumored interest’ to several clubs. It wasn’t until some five months later that Thomas actually got a call from the Houston Texans for a workout. Unfortunately, the two parties were unable to agree on a contract. Reportedly, a deal can still be worked out if the Texans can pay him more than the veteran minimum.
There’s no doubting that fans will miss Pierre Thomas, but the additions made via C.J. Spiller and re-signing Mark Ingram should help. It will be odd getting used to No. 23 being worn by Stanley Jean-Baptiste this season.
Be sure to check out a great tribute article by my co-editor, Andrew Schuster, on some of the most memorable plays from Pierre Thomas.