Inside the Michael Thomas deal

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Yes, $20 million per year gets halfway around the world before $19.25 million per year gets its pants on.

When it comes to the contract signed by Saints receiver Michael Thomas, it most definitely is not a five-year, $100 million contract extension. It’s a five-year, $96.25 million base deal, with the opportunity to bump the contract to $100 million based on performance in 2022 and 2023.

Here is the full breakdown of the contract, followed by some analysis.

1. As previously reported, Thomas gets a signing bonus of $20 million.

2. 2019 base salary: $1.648043 million, fully guaranteed.

3. 2020 base salary: $11 million, fully guaranteed.

4. 2021 base salary: $12.6 million, $3 million of which is fully guaranteed at signing. The remaining $9.6 million is guaranteed for injury only at signing, and it becomes fully guaranteed on the third day of the 2021 league year.

5. 2021 workout bonus: $200,000, guaranteed for injury only.

6. 2022 base salary: $15.35 million, guaranteed for injury only and fully guaranteed on the third day of the 2022 league year.

7. 2022 roster bonus: $250,000, due on the fifth day of the league year. Not guaranteed.

8. 2022 workout bonus: $200,000, guaranteed for injury only.

9. 2023 base salary: $15.5 million. Not guaranteed.

10. 2023 roster bonus: $250,000, due on the fifth day of the league year. Not guaranteed.

11. 2023 workout bonus: $200,000, not guaranteed.

12. 2023 46-man per-game roster bonuses: $31,250, with a maximum of $500,000.

13. 2024 base salary: $18.5 million. Not guaranteed.

14. 2024 roster bonus: $250,000, due on the fifth day of the league year. Not guaranteed.

15. 2024 workout bonus: $200,000, not guaranteed.

16. 2024 46-man per-game roster bonuses: $46,875, with a maximum of $750,000.

For 2023 and 2024, the deal has escalators that max out at $1.875 million each year, with $375,000 payable based on each of five different triggers tied to achievements in 2022 and 2023, respectively: 12 touchdowns, 1,400 receiving yards, 1,400 and a playoff berth, 100 receptions, and 100 receptions and a playoff berth.

Thus, it’s a base deal of $96.25 million. To get to $100 million, Thomas needs to do each of the following in 2022 and 2023: Catch 100 passes, gain 1,400 yards, score 12 touchdowns, and get to the playoffs.

The full guarantee at signing is $35.64 million, covering the first two years and a slice of 2021. For the bulk of 2021 and all of 2022 through 2024, it’s a series of year-to-year team-held options.

And even if it truly were a $100 million deal, Thomas wouldn’t be the first non-quarterback to get there, despite reports characterizing it that way. Larry Fitzgerald signed a $120 million contract in 2011, and Calvin Johnson signed a deal worth up to $132 million in 2012.

But, again, it’s not a $100 million deal. It’s a $96.25 million deal. And the rolling guarantees give the Saints plenty of flexibility beyond 2020, if Thomas isn’t performing at a high level, or perhaps if the Saints don’t have a quarterback who can get the most out of Thomas.

30 responses to “Inside the Michael Thomas deal

  1. Not just in this situation but any contracts that have performance bonuses, how would the league going to 17 or 18 games affect the contracts?

  2. What happened to the losers who said Bress contract was going to stop then from signing other players?

  3. jathomas724 says: “Not just in this situation but any contracts that have performance bonuses, how would the league going to 17 or 18 games affect the contracts?”
    ——————-

    Current tv contracts are worth $9 billion, which is approx. 35m per game. Add another 32 games is worth $1.12 billion, of which $526 MILLION goes into player salary cap.

    Pretty sure both sides can find a few math wizards to pro rate the performance bonuses for the extra two games for less than $1.12 billion…

  4. It’s hilarious to hear any talk from the players about a strike. I seriously doubt all these dudes with the multi million dollar contracts are going to not report and not get paid.

  5. “The Market”. That’s all you hear…’the market’ will determine the price.
    $100 mill for a wide receiver? Really?
    Lets assume he lives to age 80. Not including things like interest and taxes that initially gives him %5,500 to use each day for the next 50 years. Taxes will eat away at a lot of that, but I think I could do very well on say, $2,000 a day.

  6. So, essentially a 2yr deal of $31.6M with a $3M out in 2021. Seems over conservative for a team supposedly convinced he’s a keeper, but then he may want out too depending on what happens after Brees retires in a year or so. And afterwards it may take a few years before they’ve a great QB again – so Thomas’ 2022-24 money would be better spent elsewhere. In short, this is a contract focusing on keeping Thomas sweet for the tail-end of Brees’ window.

  7. jathomas724 says:
    July 31, 2019 at 8:40 pm
    Not just in this situation but any contracts that have performance bonuses, how would the league going to 17 or 18 games affect the contracts?
    —————————————————–
    With how they have proposed it so far, the players would still only play a max of 16 games in the regular season. So I guess that’s the way to get around any contract fiascos?

  8. It’s essentially a 3 year deal, and the team hopes he doesn’t get hurt so badly in the last year that he can’t pass a physical.

    I think this is a reasonable deal for both sides.

  9. Describing this as a 100(or 96) Million Dollar Deal is like listening to Donald Trump talk. It has only a mild, at best, relation to objective fact. He is signed for 3 years at about 1/3 of the boasted amount. The rest is just made up blather.

  10. As a bucs fan I love this product of Brees contract

    —————————-

    Considering there are 9 QBS that get paid more than Brees, yeah as a Saints fan I love his contract too.

    I also love that if the Bucs keep crab fingers beyond this year, his cap hit will be bigger than Brees. Good luck with that.

  11. Well, Larry Fitzgerald is still productive post Kurt Warner, so I’m willing to bet Thomas will be just as good post Brees…and the Cards QB’s after Warner (with maybe the exception of Carson Palmer) have been well….

  12. So 2 players make up 35 % of their cap. Good. Bree’s arm is giving out too.

    Cheaters. You deserve it all!

  13. They have Teddy B so quarterback won’t be a problem in the future. Stupid Vikings…

    >>

    Huh? It’s our fault he blew out his knee?
    We wish Teddy nothing but the best.

  14. So realistically this works out to be a team friendly 4 year contract worth a max of $61.2 million if the cut him after the 2022 year; or a 4 year average of $15.3 million. For his production that amount seems right in line and assumes the absorption of the 2023 and 2024 pro-rated signing bonus money. If the team keeps him in 2023/24 then his first four years average drops to $13.3 million, which is a very low price for his level of production.

    I wrote this in a post yesterday as well, assuming Brees is able to play for another 3 years and after this season signs another relatively team friendly two year deal that would line up with this contracts for the next three years (2019, 2020 and 2021). It would be assumed that the Saints would look to draft Brees’ replacement in the 2021 draft, most likely a first round pick. That means their salary cap allocation would be on a friendly rookie QB deal for 2022, 2023 and 2024; and assuming the rookie QB is playing well and was a 1st round pick an option year for 2025. Given that situation the team most likely wouldn’t extend the rookie QB contract until the 2024 season and it would be an extension similar to this one, meaning the salary cap hit wouldn’t start until the 2026 season, well after this contracts two heavily loaded back years. I think the Saints did an excellent job of satisfying a key skilled position player at a very reasonable 3/4 year cost and with an eye on the 5th/6th year salary cap landscape. Kudos to the Saints for managing their team and its cap situation beautifully!!!

  15. intrafinesse says:
    August 1, 2019 at 8:20 am
    It’s essentially a 3 year deal, and the team hopes he doesn’t get hurt so badly in the last year that he can’t pass a physical.

    I think this is a reasonable deal for both sides.

    2 0 Rate This

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    Right, which means they will be in cap hell for 3 years through Brees’s final years there.

    Good luck trying to sign Kamara or Lattimore.

  16. Every year its oh they are in cap hell. But every year they sign their important pieces that they need too And are players in free agency granted not going after the so called best available but find guys that fit there need the so called best usually arent the best after they get paid those high dollors anyway. Couple years the brees money will come due but they will have a young qb that isnt making much on a rookie deal. I dont think Teddy isnt the future more of a stop gap filler. So keep hating

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