Saints didn’t suspend Michael Thomas

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Much has been written and said in recent days regarding the one-game suspension imposed by the Saints on receiver Michael Thomas. There’s one small problem with that.

He was never actually suspended.

PFT has obtained a copy of the letter that the Saints sent to Thomas. The subject line of the letter uses the phrase “Fine for Conduct Detrimental to the Club.”

Here’s the key language: “[T]his letter is to notify you that you have been fined in the amount of $58,823.53 . . . for engaging in conduct detrimental to the club.” In other words, Thomas was fined, not suspended.

It’s a strange development, given that the discipline was so widely characterized as a suspension. Although on the surface it’s a distinction without a difference, the difference between a fine in the amount of one game check and a one-game suspension means that $27.95 million in future guarantees have not been voided.

The apparent goal was to get the attention of the player without utilizing the close-to-nuclear option of wiping out his guarantees, or at least trying to. The Saints may have chosen not to pick a $27.95 million fight with Thomas and the NFL Players Association, since the matter undoubtedly would have gone to a grievance — and the Saints quite possibly would have lost. Also, attacking the guarantees could have caused Thomas to reach his own breaking point with the team, resulting in a possible trade demand.

Regardless, Thomas wasn’t suspended. He was fined. If he doesn’t change his behavior, a suspension (along with the voiding of guarantees) could happen. For now, though, his guarantees remain intact.