The New Orleans Saints are playing a dangerous game with running back Pierre Thomas, they’re low balling the hell out of him in contract negotiations. Thomas is a restricted free agent and the Saints have given him a $1.6 million tender. Thomas obviously has not signed as he feels he’s worth more money. Well, the Saints disagree and are threatening to lower his tender to approximately $500,000. What’s even worse thou is that the Saints consider Thomas to be more of a rotation back then a featured back.
Jeff Duncan of the New Orleans Times-Picayune reports the Saints are currently offering a contract worth 4-years and $11 million, that would be comparable to Thomas Jones and LaDainian Tomlinson.
“We’re not asking for Steven Jackson money, ” agent Lamont Smith said by telephone (per Times-Picayune). “We just want a fair deal.”
If I was Thomas, I wouldn’t blame him for being insulted and thinking the Saints aren’t negotiating in good faith. The team has been moving forward as if Thomas will be their featured back in 2010. If he’s being considered a feature back then why would you offer him role player type money?
“He’s 25-year-old and in the prime of his career, ” Smith said. “He’s been the team’s leading rusher the last couple of years. He’s done everything the right way; he’s made no money in his career. He could have very easily made a big deal about it at this time last year, but he was adamant about not doing that.”
Smith is correct, Thomas has been a class act from the beginning. He’s worked hard and outperformed his rookie contract. He’s led the Saints in scrimmage yards in each of the last two years, gaining even more then high payed “star” Reggie Bush.
His best games in 2009 were when he touched the ball more then just a few times, in the games he ran the ball more then ten times he was more likely to break a big one. To me that usually equates to a player being a more “featured” back. He’s obviously a player that needs to be on the field and get into the flow of the game.
The Saints are absolutely ridiculous in their negotiation methods here and it could come back to bite them big time once Thomas is actually eligible for free agency. Depending how angry they make Thomas thou it could come back and get them sooner then later.
“(Pierre) has played three years for the league minimum (salary) and received a $5,000 signing bonus, ” Smith said. “If not now, when will he get security?”
Asked what he would do if the Saints held firm in their stance, Smith said, “We have a plan.”