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Saints, Michael Thomas inching toward long-term deal

Drew Brees has been one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL for a long time, but Mike Florio wonders if Father Time is starting to catch up with the Saints star heading into 2019.

Plenty of receivers want new contracts. Most of them likely will be getting those contracts without changing teams.

One of the best receivers in the league is among those waiting. According to Charles Robinson of Yahoo Sports, negotiations on a long-term deal for Saints receiver Michael Thomas are moving toward a middle ground.

Robinson reports that the Saints have offered a contract in the range of $18 million to $19 million per year. Thomas wants to get to $20 million per year. Per Robinson, a $20 million per year offer with the right structure and guarantees (he doesn’t specify what those would be) would likely get a deal done.

In our view, one major factor in the negotiations will be the deal that the Falcons give receiver Julio Jones. Multiple league sources firmly believe that the Falcons already have a wink-nod deal in place with Jones, and that the contract will be finalized on or shortly after Friday, the one-year anniversary of his last contract adjustment.

Then there’s the new-money analysis, which will be particularly relevant to Thomas because he’s due to make only $1.148 million in 2019. By ripping up his current deal and replacing it with a five-year, $81.48 million contract, the Saints would be paying Thomas $20 million per year in new money, but they’d be getting the deal done for $16.2 million over five years.

Then there’s the possibly-as-soon-as-post-2019 question whether the Saints are confident that they’ll have a quarterback who can get the most out of Thomas. While he’s indeed one of the best wideouts in the game, the Saints are wasting that money if they don’t have someone to get the ball to him early, often, and repeatedly. If Drew Brees retire after 2019, it’s unclear who the next quarterback will be.