The New Orleans Saints-Michael Thomas situation continues to deteriorate by the hour. After two All-Pro seasons, Thomas’ 2020 was derailed by injuries … and even when he was on the field he made no impact.
Fast forward to this offseason, and Thomas will miss the start of 2021 after undergoing ankle surgery in June.
According to reports, the procedure occurring that late was the result of Thomas ignoring phone calls from the Saints “for months.” Head coach Sean Payton even called out the former Ohio State Buckeye for his questionable decision.
Then Thomas took to Twitter to ostensibly reveal his displeasure with the organization. Payton declined to address any questions about it on Monday.
Just by the looks of it, not many would be surprised if Thomas is traded before Week 1.
It appears Thomas and the Saints have reached a boiling point … for whatever reason. If that’s indeed the case, then the New England Patriots need to get on the phone as soon as possible.
The Patriots might be able to land Michael Thomas with these trade packages.
Any team would benefit from trading for Thomas. Let’s not pretend this would be a shrewd move by the Pats and the Pats alone. But perhaps no team stands to benefit more than New England, who is trying to contend in 2021 and develop a first-round quarterback for the next five years.
Give Cam Newton more help this year and the Pats can make serious noise. Give Mac Jones an All-Pro option alongside a number of other promising targets and he could develop faster than anyone would’ve ever expected.
So let’s dive in and take a look at two trade packages that could help the Pats land Thomas.
Trade Package No. 1: Stephon Gilmore and Third-Round Pick
We’re not exactly endorsing this — we’d rather have Gilmore leading the secondary and helping keep this defense among the league’s best — but we truly don’t know what’s going on with the cornerback’s contract situation.
If the Patriots don’t intend on amending the situation, keeping him around might be a distraction … and we know Belichick doesn’t like those. Throw in the fact the Pats actually have two promising young cornerbacks in JC Jackson and Jonathan Jones, and parting with Gilmore, while still not the wise choice, is much more easier to swallow. There’s depth behind them, too, in the form of Jalen Mills, Joejuan Williams and Myles Bryant. Not the greatest, but also not detrimental for a defense.
A third-round pick has to be attached here because Gilmore’s contract situation is unsettled. The Saints will have to deal with that, which creates another headache, but if Mickey Loomis has taught us anything, it’s that he’s the master of proving the salary cap is a myth. He’ll figure something out.
Adding Gilmore would truly make the Saints’ defense a top-three unit and really help with a lot of the expected issues we’re about to see with their offense.
Trade Package No. 2: N’Keal Harry, Chase Winovich and a Second-Rounder
This one could be of more value to the Saints and less of a facelift for the Patriots. After all, getting rid of Gilmore doesn’t send the right message. But parting with two younger talents that either haven’t panned out or are indispensable? That’s classic Patriots.
Harry is having an encouraging training camp, which could sway New Orleans, who will now need another threat in the receiving game. The former Arizona State star has a very specific skill set and it wouldn’t be shocking if Payton could unlock it in his fast-paced offense … unlike New England’s run-first attack.
As for Winovich, previous reports suggested the Patriots weren’t a fan of his attitude. We’re really unsure of the veracity of that chatter, but it was odd the former Michigan star wasn’t exactly unleashed in 2020 and actually lost playing time down the stretch. Then you factor in the additions of Matthew Judon, Kyle Van Noy and Ronnie Perkins … and now you really begin to wonder what Wino’s role will be.
But he’s clearly an NFL-caliber talent and the Saints would be happy to throw a young, cost-effective player into their pass-rushing rotation. His size and speed help with his versatility, so he’d likely be able to line up in a three-point stance as a defensive end or play some outside linebacker in the Saints’ 4-3 scheme.
You simply have to throw in a higher pick here, too. Some might argue this package isn’t enough, but the Saints may not have the most leverage in the world given Thomas’ contract and the fact he’s blown up their spot.
But considering the fact Harry and Winovich are on rookie contracts and can help fill needs (though not as impactful as the Saints would hope), a second-round pick alongside them definitely sweetens the pot … all for a disgruntled star that wants out.
Seems like a win-win, especially with the Patriots being able to clear an extra roster spot, too.