Can the Saints afford to move on from Michael Thomas?

It looks like Michael Thomas’ time with the New Orleans Saints is coming to an end, but can New Orleans really afford to lose him?
New Orleans Saints v Minnesota Vikings
New Orleans Saints v Minnesota Vikings / Stephen Maturen/GettyImages

New Orleans Saints fans are coming to terms with the fact that wide receiver Michael Thomas has likely played his last game with the team. Some fans are happy about that and others are sad, holding out hope that he returns. Thomas was one of the league’s best receivers during the first half of his career, but the last few seasons have been filled with injuries and drama. That dichotomy has made Thomas an extremely polarizing player amongst fans.

Still, the Saints and Thomas must make a decision about the future. Thomas will be a free agent this offseason, and considering how things have played out in recent years, it would make sense if both sides wanted to move on. However, nothing is certain in the NFL. There are even people arguing that New Orleans should do everything it can to re-sign Thomas.

Brad Spielberger, in a recent piece for PFF, named Michael Thomas as the one free agent that the Saints can’t afford to lose.

Michael Thomas named a free agent that Saints can’t afford to lose

Spielberger acknowledged Thomas’ injuries, as well as the fact that younger receivers like Chris Olave, Rashid Shaheed, and AT Perry are all emerging. Still, an argument was made that this offense needs Michael Thomas, saying, “retaining Thomas as a possession for Derek Carr makes sense.”

In the 10 games Thomas did play this season, he caught 39 passes for 448 yards and one touchdown. Spielberger pointed out that through Week 8, Thomas was top 20 among wide receivers in receptions and also recorded at least 40 receiving yards in every game.

While it certainly won’t hurt to keep Michael Thomas on the roster, especially if he can stay relatively healthy moving forward, Thomas remaining with the Saints doesn’t seem realistic right now. It’s also not realistic to categorize him as a can’t-lose player after the way the last few seasons have unfolded.