As discussed here as a strong possibility a few months back, the saints and Michael Thomas have agreed on a restructured contract that will pave the way for his release from the Saints in 2023. Field Yates first had the details of the restructure for ESPN.
The new contract will effectively turn the 2023 season for Thomas into a void year without it technically being one. Thomas will carry a minimum salary for 2023 and will have a large roster bonus due in 2024. If the Saints fail to release Thomas prior to the 3rd day of the league year that bonus becomes guaranteed. This is all procedural on the part of the Saints as this now gives them a two day window to declare Thomas a post June 1 release and spread the salary cap charge out over two seasons rather than taking the hit all in 2023.
This is a salary cap concept first put into practice by the Eagles a few years ago as a creative way to June 1 a player whose original contract would not allow a June 1 release due to salary cap considerations. Prior to this move Thomas’ salary cap number would have been about $28.2 million in 2023 and his dead money $25.452 million. Had he been designated a June 1 cut the Saints would have had a $28.2 million salary cap hold until June 2, which was not really feasible for the team. On June 2, the cap number would drop to $11.813 million and the defer $13.639 million to 2024, but the cap damage would already be done.
with the new contract the team will carry a $13.15 million cap charge once they exercise the June 1 designation. That will then reduce to $11.993 million on June 2 with $14.181 million hitting the 2024 salary cap, creating $15 million in cap room over the original contract. The reason for the slight difference in dead money between the two scenarios is because the Saints paid Thomas a $902,941 signing bonus as part of the restructure. This was not a payment for doing the team a solid but covers the 17th game check that he was entitled to as a benefit as part of the CBA which he would have lost due to the restructure. If Thomas is physically unable to play football next year he can qualify for a injury protection benefit though the structure of this leads me to believe he is healthy.
Thomas’ contract became a minefield for the Saints with massive amounts of restructures over the years and his body unfortunately broke down during the extension years and he missed multiple games for the team along the way. We now estimate the Saints to be about $39 million over the 2023 salary cap.
Jason is the founder of OTC and has been studying NFL contracts and the salary cap for over 15 years. Jason has co-authored two books about the NFL, Crunching Numbers and the Drafting Stage, which are widely circulated in the industry and hosts the OTC Podcast. Jason’s work has been featured in various publications including the Sporting News, Sports Illustrated, NFL Network and more. OTC is widely considered the leading authority on contract matters in the NFL.