The Saints have some growing to do on the depth chart ahead of the 2018 NFL draft. Their top two wide receivers—Michael Thomas and Willie Snead—are both free agents. Thomas has been a first-round pick before, going to the Saints with their first-rounder in 2015. Snead, who has been on the roster since 2015, barely saw the field last season, racking up just 16 targets in 2017, ranking him behind only Ted Ginn Jr. in targets per game.
One of the issues the New Orleans Saints have to address in the offseason is the lack of depth behind star wide receiver Michael Thomas. While there have been some reports that the Saints could try to address their lack of depth by adding a veteran receiver, they could also solve their problem by making some calls.
Since the Super Bowl, Michael Thomas has done nothing but get better. More than any other receiver, he has made his past four years with the Saints something to be proud of. But now, a very important season looms for Thomas, as his contract is about to expire, and the Saints will almost assuredly let him walk.
Do you think the New Orleans Saints are kicking themselves for signing Michael Thomas to a record-breaking contract? Despite the fact that he is under contract through 2024, the All-Pro receiver has cast significant doubt on his future with the team this offseason. Surprisingly, the Saints’ best option may be to cut ties with a player who doesn’t seem to be on the same page as the team.
Fortunately for general manager Mickey Loomis, all it takes is one phone call to solve his Thomas issue and fill a big roster void.
Michael Thomas does not seem to be a long-term resident of New Orleans.
The Saints selected Thomas with the 47th overall selection in the second round of the 2016 NFL Draft, securing a future star. Despite his lack of speed, the big-bodied wideout immediately shown his ability to create plays in the passing game. As a rookie, Thomas led the Saints in catches (92) and touchdown receptions (nine).
Of course, this just served to set the scene for some mind-boggling statistical feats.
In both 2018 and 2019, Thomas was named to the first team All-Pro after receiving 274 receptions for 3,130 yards and 18 touchdowns. Last year, though, the record-breaking receiver came nothing close to winning any individual honors.
Thomas only had 40 catches for 438 yards in seven games because to an ankle ailment. His name was even mentioned in trade speculations, which was a surprising change of events for a player who signed a five-year, $100 million contract deal in July of this year.
The issue surrounding the team’s top receiver hasn’t improved at all, which is unfortunate for Saints fans. At this moment, Thomas’ chances of playing for another team in the near future seem to be better than ever. The Saints are dealing with the repercussions from his expensive choice to postpone ankle surgery on many levels. From the outside looking in, Thomas seems to be a strong contender for a trade.
In a simple phone call, the Saints can fix the issue and address their greatest flaw.
During a game against the Jacksonville Jaguars, New Orleans Saints wide receiver Michael Thomas tries to get open. | David Rosenblum/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
It’s obvious that the Saints and their top receiver aren’t on the same page. Given how the 2020 season went, it may not be surprising.
Thomas’ predicament may be resolved for New Orleans by dealing him for a high draft selection. Alternatively, the franchise may go along a different path that isn’t centered on obtaining a future asset. In reality, the Saints should contact the Jacksonville Jaguars as soon as they are ready to cope with the salary-cap implications of selling their high-paid wideout.
After all, in a single trade, the AFC South club can get Thomas off their hands and help them shore up a major flaw.
The Jaguars have allegedly made 2020 first-round selection C.J. Henderson available, despite the fact that it makes little sense on the surface. After displaying exceptional covering abilities at the University of Florida, the dynamic cornerback was chosen ninth overall. Henderson, on the other hand, does not seem to have a long-term future in Jacksonville, according to Urban Meyer.
The Saints are “exploring available alternatives in the trade market for a cornerback,” according to Jeff Duncan of The Times-Picayune, who cited Henderson as a possible answer.
Thomas for the 22-year-old corner seems to be a win-win situation for all parties concerned. Instead of Jameis Winston or Taysom Hill, the experienced receiver would have the opportunity to catch passes from Trevor Lawrence. And the Saints wouldn’t have to deal with any more distractions from the All-Pro wideout. Most significantly, they’d be able to team Henderson with Marshon Lattimore, a three-time Pro Bowler. It’s difficult not to be enthralled by the prospect of a cornerback tandem consisting of two high first-round selections.
What about the Jaguars?
Trading Henderson for Thomas (along with a draft selection) would strengthen their offensive. Lawrence would have a fantastic group of receivers with different skill sets if he added him to a group that currently includes DJ Chark, Laviska Shenault Jr., and Marvin Jones. If the Jaguars’ ultimate aim is to get Henderson off the roster, they could do a lot worse than trading him for the 2019 NFL Offensive Player of the Year.
Aside from the Jaguars, which other NFL clubs should consider trading for Thomas?
New Orleans seems to have found an excellent trade partner in Jacksonville.
However, if Thomas is placed on the market, the Saints can anticipate a few phone calls from general managers around the league. Which clubs seem to be logical candidates for his services?
Don’t rule out the possibility of the New England Patriots pursuing Thomas. Bill Belichick still lacks a genuine No. 1 receiver on the squad, despite his costly free-agent shopping spree. Why not trade for an established star who has plenty of incentive to prove his critics wrong if he wants to put Mac Jones up for future success?
The Los Angeles Chargers, who are still in the AFC, might make Justin Herbert’s job easier by dealing for Thomas. Defensive coordinators would benefit if they had to focus on stopping another big-bodied wideout, as Keenan Allen and Mike Williams would.
There’s also Brett Veach and the Kansas City Chiefs to consider. Not only might they need a receiving improvement behind Tyreek Hill, but they also have a track record of pursuing big-name players. The Chiefs aren’t afraid to make a big move, whether it’s signing Tyrann Mathieu, trading for Frank Clark, or adding Orlando Brown Jr. this summer.
Patrick Mahomes and Michael Thomas would definitely qualify as such a combination.
Pro Football Reference provided all statistics.
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