When the New Orleans Saints initially extended Michael Thomas to a five-year deal worth $96 million, it was a move that most fans were fine with. The guy had gone over the 1,000-yard mark in each of his three seasons to that point and had no fewer than five touchdowns during those three seasons.
In year one after the contract extension, Thomas showed the Saints that he was worthy of that dough, putting up an insane stat line of 149 receptions, 1,725 receiving yards, and nine touchdowns while averaging 107.8 yards per game. The guy was electric in 2019 and ended the year with the Offensive Player of the Year award added to his impressive resumé.
There was no buyer's remorse with Thomas after what he did in year one of that deal. It's been what's happened since then that's made it look like a terrible move for the Saints.
Saints likely regret extending Michael Thomas
In 2020, Thomas was injured in the Saints' season opener over the Buccaneers. He ended up missing a few games as a result. When he returned to practice, he got injured ahead of Week 7 and missed two more games. At the end of the season, he injured his ankle and went on to miss the final three games of the season. He played in the playoffs and scored his only touchdown of the season but that proved to be costly.
Drama emerged in the 2021 offseason, as Thomas reportedly didn't have surgery when he was supposed to and ended up missing the entire season because of this. It was not a good look for the former second-round pick, especially when the Saints offense went on to have no good receivers because they were banking on Thomas being a major part of the game plan.
Thomas finally returned this season but played in just three games before being sidelined with an injury once again. After not playing since Week 3, the Saints finally placed him on IR ahead of Week 9's tilt with the Ravens and Dennis Allen said that it's unlikely that Thomas plays again this season.
Since the 2020 season, Thomas has tallied just 609 yards and three touchdowns in 10 games. That's it. He's only played in 10 games and has not been able to stay healthy. This contract has been an absolute disaster for New Orleans.
Thomas has insisted on his Instagram that he always bounces back but he said the same thing last year and well... here we are. The team can't trade him because the injuries are a problem and no one is going to want to take on that contract. It sucks but the Saints are stuck with Thomas and his ugly contract until at least next summer.
I don't blame the Saints for extending Thomas because he was one of the best receivers in the league after the 2018 season. It made sense to keep him in the black and gold and ensure that Drew Brees would continue to have a fantastic playmaker in the waning years of his career.
Thomas played out of his mind in 2019 but since then, he's been a shell of himself. His contract has made it hard for the Saints to sign good players because they're paying him a lot of money to sit on the sideline.
All teams have their fair share of bad contracts on the books and it's an unfortunate situation when it happens but it's not just something that happens to New Orleans. Thomas hasn't lived up to his end of the bill but no one can fault the team for extending him because that was the smart move to make at the time. That doesn't mean that we can't complain about Thomas' lack of production now though.
Hopefully, Thomas can return next year and show some of that juice we saw from him in three games this year. He looked like a good player still but once again, injuries will keep him off the field. Such a damn shame.