Michael Thomas is one of the most talented wide receivers of his generation. The New Orleans Saints wide receiver missed the entire 2021 season due to an ankle injury. In addition, he played just seven games in 2020. But between 2016 and 2019, few players were as valuable to their team as Thomas.
Due to his lack of availability, the rumblings were that the Saints wanted to trade the Ohio State product. With Drew Brees and Sean Payton out the door, the Saints are entering a new chapter compared to Thomas' last healthy season in 2019.
But the Saints should hold onto the three-time Pro Bowler and resist the urge to move him.
The Saints should keep Michael Thomas for these three reasons
# 1 - The Saints reduced Thomas' cap hit
The most logical case in favor of the Saints keeping Thomas is to save money. Everyone in the NFL is jockeying to create cap space this time of the year, and the Saints were as bad off in the salary cap as anyone.
That changed on Saturday when Field Yates reported Thomas' $14.565 million salary was turned into a signing bonus. By also restructuring Ryan Ramczyk's deal, the Saints opened up $26.217 million.
The Saints likely aren't done restructuring contracts in an attempt to free up money. Now that Thomas is affordable, the Saints can view him for what he truly is -- an otherworldly talented player who just hasn't been healthy in two years.
# 2 - Michael Thomas will be a significant asset to the next quarterback
The future of the Saints quarterback position is the biggest unknown surrounding the team. Whether it's Jameis Winston, a rookie in the draft, or any of the other names on the quarterback carousel, they'll benefit greatly from being able to play with Michael Thomas.
Thomas increased his receiving yardage total in each of his first four seasons and had a mesmerizing 1,725 yards in 2019. He's quick, runs pristine routes, and is a magnificent player in the red zone.
He caught nine touchdowns in three of his four healthy seasons, showcasing his scoring capabilities. Thomas also led the wide receiver position in catch percentage in 2018 and 2019, with a second-place finish in the same category in 2016 as a rookie.
If he can get back to being a similar player at the age of 29 in 2022, the Saints will benefit extensively as they arguably had the NFL's least effective wide receiver core in 2021.
# 3 - Michael Thomas continues the Saints trend of continuity
The final reason the Saints should retain Thomas at all costs is to follow the trend of continuity. Although Payton retired, the coaching staff is largely untouched, with Dennis Allen taking Payton's place.
Longtime Payton assistant Pete Carmichael Jr. is the offensive coordinator. The Saints promoted from within to fill Allen's vacated defensive coordinator position.
Most of the roster is set to return, including locker room leaders Cameron Jordan and Marshon Lattimore. With Alvin Kamara still in his prime, the Saints remain highly talented.
In times of transition, it's good to keep some holdovers. The Saints appear to be walking that tightrope this offseason. Thomas' talent is too much to give away for a team that's had a winning culture since Payton's arrival in 2006.