Much Like Almost Every Football Thrown in His General Direction the Last Three Years, 100 Million Dollar Mike Finally Secured His Bag
It might read like a weird thing to write about a contract negotiation that resulted in a star player’s absence from a Super Bowl contender’s training camp, but I don’t think there was a more fitting way for the New Orleans Saints and Michael Thomas to finally commit to each other for the next five years. Honestly, given everything we’ve come to know of a braintrust that’s always been bullish on their ability to replace skill position players who are up for a raise and a wideout who was aggressively and openly aware of his need for a massive one, it wouldn’t have felt right had the two sides been ready to break the bank immediately after breaking the proverbial bread. If it had been as easy as we were being led to believe prior to his holdout, I’d have spent more time trying to find a catch than the Saints’ offense when Michael Thomas wasn’t the intended target last season. Therefore, in the sense that some of Mickey Loomis' funny money was necessary in the making of a milestone extension, the extra time it took to get signed, sealed, and delivered really reinforced the belief that Michael Thomas is the perfect Saint, as he basically reflects the near-stubborn confidence of the front office that just rewarded it.
Please allow me a 50 mile head-start before telling him I said so, but Michael Thomas isn’t the best wide receiver in the National Football League. What he is, however, is close enough to that crown to quite easily justify leveraging the Saints’ over-reliance on his efforts in the passing game into an amount of zeros previously unmatched amongst offensive players that don’t wear a different color jersey at this time of year. What he might lack in game-breaking ability he makes up for in the proficiency of his efficiency. Never mind keeping happy the go-to guy that’s helped a first ballot HOFer age gracefully as he looks to add another ring to his finger before waving goodbye to the game. Think it might matter that when Drew Brees inevitably rides off into the sunset that his replacement will be lucky enough to throw to a reliable playmaker who is such a guarantee to catch everything thrown in his general vicinity that it makes you believe he can't possibly come as advertised without there being some tomfoolery in the fine print?
Historical precedent might say that paying top-dollar for receivers doesn’t result in a high level of organizational success, but all that history serves as to a player as profoundly prideful as Michael Thomas is a challenge...
We're talking about someone who is so self-motivated that I wouldn't be surprised if his biggest rival was his mirror. Someone who relies just as much, if not more so, on expertise as athleticism. Someone whose attitude and work ethic are infectious throughout the locker room. Position aside, Michael Thomas is the type of competitor you don't mind paying big money to because he makes everyone better and there is no amount of dollars that could pay away his undying desire to be dominant.
Of course, the Saints really had no choice but to pay him big money as the window to win a championship is closing by the day and they certainly weren't doing so without #13 on the field drawing attention and bullying open passing windows for Drew Brees. Still, the concerns that come with paying a premium for a pass-catcher aren't as worrisome when said pass-catcher has a chip on his shoulder than even surgery couldn’t remove and fully bought into a cohesive culture long before his annual salary allowed him to buy any damn thing he pleases.