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Saints didn’t suspend Michael Thomas

Rodney Harrison picks apart Chris Simms' WR rankings and gives his own list, starting with Michael Thomas at the top.

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.