Should Michael Thomas be the NFL’s Highest Paid Receiver?
ESPN has reported this week that the New Orleans Saints are ready to make wide receiver Michael Thomas the highest paid receiver in the NFL. They added that the team thinks the deal could be done before Training Camp starts.
The 26-year-old Thomas has become one of the best receivers in the league, and last year led the NFL with 125 catches for 1,405 yards and nine touchdowns. But some are questioning if that's Thomas' ability, or the guy throwing him the ball.
Some Saints fans have invoked the name Jimmy Graham in this conversation, because Graham was an absolute beast while in New Orleans, but once he left the huddle that features future Hall of Fame quarterback Drew Brees, his production went way down. After Graham was traded to the Seattle Seahawks, his touchdowns dropped off from 16 in 2013 and 10 in 2014, to just 2 in his first year in Seattle.
Eventually Graham was able to reach 10 touchdowns again in the 2017 season, but his receptions, yards, and average yards per catch have never really rebounded to his New Orleans numbers. Even in 2018 when he was paired up with former MVP Aaron Rodgers in Green Bay, Graham was only able to find the endzone twice in 16 games.
While in New Orleans, Graham topped 1,000 yards twice, and had three seasons with more than 10 touchdowns. After his rookie year, he never had a season in New Orleans where he was below 880 yards and 9 touchdowns.
So is Michael Thomas actually the best wide receiver in the NFL? Should he be locked in for the biggest contract a wide receiver has ever seen? Probably not. But this is the world of today's NFL. Will this contract be the biggest wide receiver contract for the next 4 years, no. It will be topped in a few months by another. Even if Thomas doesn't deserve this contract, he does deserve to get paid, and to stay in New Orleans. This is just a symptom of the current contract environment in the NFL.