If you are a fan of the New Orleans Saints you know one thing, each offseason seems to draw more storylines than a daytime soap opera. This offseason again has proved no different as the team has had to face the sudden retirement of the franchise’s greatest coach in Sean Payton, an uncharacteristic arrest after the Pro Bowl of all world running back Alvin Kamara, as well as questions about who will play quarterback for this team next season. During the season, there were questions about whether All-Pro wide receiver Michael Thomas was happy in New Orleans and if he would be returning for the 2022 season. That question seems to have thankfully been put to rest.
Source: the Saints’ cap moves are underway, as they’ve converted $14.565M of Michael Thomas’ compensation for 2022 and $18,206,608 of OT Ryan Ramczyk’s compensation for 2022 into signing bonuses, creating $26.217M in cap space.— Field Yates (@FieldYates) February 26, 2022
The restructure and conversion of cap money into a signing bonus all but ensures Thomas will be on the team next season. The Saints are spreading out his cap charges over the next few seasons and would be responsible for those if he were to be traded. This move hints the Saints have no intention of doing that and that may have been reiterated to Thomas after he reportedly was back in New Orleans and in contact with the team earlier this month. Thomas gets back healthy and again proves why he is a top tier wide receiver, and the Saints get back that outside threat that was glaringly missing from the offense this past season. This is the team’s way of getting back that stability that kept them great all these years.
After the retirement of Payton, the Saints did their due diligence in their coaching search by interviewing a multitude of candidates but ended up hiring a qualified guy in Dennis Allen, who was already in the building. A guy who knows the culture of the organization and the expectations that the front office brass and the Saints have for the team. When a new offensive coordinator needed to be hired again the Saints were thorough in their search but once again hired from within in naming Pete Carmichael the OC. Carmichael had been on staff since 2006 under Payton and like Allen knows the layout of the land in New Orleans. When the Saints needed to name a defensive coordinator, they..... well you know the story. Again, the team went with stabilizing themselves internally by hiring from within, a constant theme of this offseason.
The team is no doubt hoping this translates to winning on the field next season. The return of Thomas should go a long way to making that hope a reality. This team despite all the injuries and attrition last season, still finished with a winning record and was one Rams stop away against the 49ers in Week 18 from making the playoffs. No doubt adding the wide receiver with the most regular season catches in NFL history can only help that cause. To Thomas’ credit he seems to have a renewed energy and desire to show and prove next season. This is a “what have you done for me lately” league and with him not on the field the past 2 seasons, the focus has shifted to other receivers in the NFL more prominently. Thomas is looking to change that narrative and bring more stability to the NFL’s best wide receiver debate. Doing so will bring more stability to his own team.