Here’s an update on the latest chapter of the Michael Thomas saga. On Wednesday, NBC Sports’ Mike Florio reported for Pro Football Talk that the New Orleans Saints did not suspend the embattled all-star wide receiver — per a copy of the formal letter Thomas received from Saints coach Sean Payton, he was fined for his $58,823 game check after starting a fight in practice with safety C.J. Gardner-Johnson, and while he was benched for Week 5, he was not officially suspended.
It’s an important distinction, and it was confirmed by NewOrleans.Football’s Nick Underhill. The decision to not suspend Thomas protects $27.95 million in contract guarantees for future years, which would have been voided had Payton chosen to issue a formal suspension. That’s an olive branch from the Saints to their best player, which sends a message: he messed up, but not to an extent where fences can’t be mended.
And that lines up with what some of Thomas’s teammates have said about the situation. Defensive captain Malcolm Jenkins doesn’t anticipate any long-term problems with Thomas, and quarterback Drew Brees expressed trust that Thomas and Payton would work things out in his Week 5 postgame press conference.
So we can tap the brakes on all of the speculation comparing this outburst to diva behavior from, say, Antonio Brown. If they were comparable issues, the Saints would have addressed Thomas that way by jeopardizing his guaranteed money. They didn’t do that, and it’s a sign that everyone will be ready to return to work after the bye week.