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.