Michael Thomas Reportedly Seeking $22M Per Year in New Saints Contract

Kyle Newport@@KyleNewportFeatured ColumnistJune 21, 2019

NEW ORLEANS, LA - SEPTEMBER 16:  Michael Thomas #13 of the New Orleans Saints celebrates his touchdown during the fourth quarter against the Cleveland Browns at Mercedes-Benz Superdome on September 16, 2018 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)
Sean Gardner/Getty Images

New Orleans Saints receiver Michael Thomas is asking for an average annual value of $22 million on a contract extension, a lower figure than his initial asking price, according to Jeff Duncan of the Times-Picayune.

Duncan noted the Saints are sitting in the neighborhood of $18 million per season in negotiations.

Any contract north of $18 million per season would make Thomas the highest-paid receiver in football. Per Over The Cap, Odell Beckham Jr. of the Cleveland Browns currently owns the top AAV among wideouts ($18 million per season).

Beckham's five-year, $95 million extension—which he signed with the New York Giants in August 2018—also established a new bar for receivers in terms of fully guaranteed money ($41 million) and total guarantees ($65 million).

Since being drafted in the second round in 2016, Thomas has been among the most productive receivers in the league. The Ohio State alum has started his career with three consecutive seasons of 90-plus catches and 1,100-plus yards, finding the end zone 23 times.

No receiver has caught more passes than Thomas (321) through the first three years of a career.

His numbers have improved each year. He is coming off a season in which he hauled in an NFL-high 125 catches for 1,405 yards (sixth in the NFL) and nine touchdowns (tied for 10th).

As Pro Football Focus noted, the 6'3", 212-pound Thomas was one of the top pass-catchers in the slot last season:

According to Pro Football Focus' Austin Gayle, Thomas' contested catch percentage of 58.54 over the past three seasons ranks second in football. Meanwhile, his drop rate of 2.76 percent is the third-lowest among receivers with at least 200 targets since 2016.

Thomas' strong start to his career has not gone unnoticed. He has earned a pair of Pro Bowl nods (2017 and 2018) as well as a first-team All-Pro selection (2018). And he just turned 26 years old in March.