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Michael Thomas, Saints Agree to Restructured Contract, Saves $8.7M in Cap Space

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistMarch 12, 2021

New Orleans Saints wide receiver Michael Thomas (13) warms up before an NFL wild-card playoff football game against the Chicago Bears in New Orleans, Sunday, Jan. 10, 2021. (AP Photo/Butch Dill)
Butch Dill/Associated Press

The New Orleans Saints and wide receiver Michael Thomas reportedly agreed to restructure his five-year, $96.3 million contract before the NFL's new league year begins Wednesday.

Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network reported Friday the reworked deal will save the Saints $8.7 million in salary-cap space for 2021.

Thomas was one of the league's top players in 2019. He posted a record-setting 149 catches for 1,725 yards and nine touchdowns en route to NFL Offensive Player of the Year honors. It marked his fourth straight year with over 1,000 yards since New Orleans selected him in the second round of the 2016 draft.

The 2020 campaign wasn't nearly as memorable. He suffered a high-ankle sprain in the Saints' Week 1 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and didn't return until Week 9. He played six games before landing back on injured reserve because of lingering issues with the ankle.

He finished the regular season with 40 receptions for 438 yards and no touchdowns, though he did find the end zone in the team's Wild Card Round victory over the Chicago Bears.

Thomas finished the year with a catchless outing against the eventual Super Bowl champion Bucs in the divisional round.

The Saints' offensive outlook for 2021 remains a bit murky with Drew Brees' retirement decision not finalized. If he does hang up his cleats, the front office will either need to find a new quarterback or go all-in with Taysom Hill as their new starter, which would likely change the system.

Brees is a pocket passer and one of the most accurate throwers in NFL history. Hill is a dual-threat playmaker who last played QB on a full-time basis in 2016 at BYU.

One thing that's for sure is the Saints will be betting on a major bounce-back year from Thomas, a three-time Pro Bowl selection who's a game-changer when at full strength.

Meanwhile, New Orleans has come a long way in its efforts to rectify a troublesome cap situation heading toward the new league year, but it's still an estimated $15.2 million over the cap based on its top-51 roster, according toΒ Spotrac.

So a couple more roster moves or contract restructures are on the horizon in the coming days.