Michael Thomas

Michael Thomas


New Orleans Saints wide receiver Michael Thomas.

When it comes to the wide receiver position, the Denver Broncos are on the kind of streak any NFL team would want to avoid — the franchise hasn’t had a player exceed the 1,000-yard receiving mark since 2019.

That means the Broncos are willing to try anything at the position, which Bleacher Report’s Kristopher Knox thinks should include signing free-agent wide receiver Michael Thomas.

“The Denver Broncos are a logical fit for Thomas for a few reasons. For one, Denver employs longtime Saints head coach Sean Payton and offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael,” Knox wrote. “Secondly, the Broncos are looking to develop rookie quarterback Bo Nix. Lastly, Denver lacks proven talent at the receiver position behind Courtland Sutton and free-agent addition Josh Reynolds. Thomas might not be a particularly prolific receiver in Denver, but he’d help Nix acclimate to Payton’s offense.”

Thomas’ career has fallen on hard times in recent years. Getting a career reboot in the AFC and with his former head coach might be what it takes for the 31-year-old to regain some of his past glory.

Thomas, a two-time NFL All-Pro, hasn’t played a full season since he was named NFL Offensive Player of the Year in 2019 with the New Orleans Saints — and he did it while playing for Payton.

Thomas’ Domination Led to Massive Payday

Thomas dominated NFL competition almost from the moment he was selected in the second round of the NFL draft by the Saints in 2016.

The Ohio State product reeled off four consecutive seasons of over 1,000 receiving yards to begin his career, making three consecutive Pro Bowls from 2017 to 2019 and leading the NFL in receptions in 2018 and 2019.

In 2019, Thomas received a 5-year, $100 million contract extension with $61 million guaranteed — at the time the biggest payday for a wide receiver in NFL history. He followed that by putting together one of the greatest seasons for a wide receiver in NFL history with an NFL single-season record 145 receptions, 1,725 receiving yards and 9 touchdowns.

Thomas set NFL records for most receptions through the first five seasons (510) and most receiving yards through the first four seasons (5,512).

When Thomas was named NFL Offensive Player of the Year in 2019 he was the first wide receiver to win the award since San Francisco 49ers legend Jerry Rice in 1993.

Where Did Things Go Wrong for Thomas?

Since the end of the 2019 season, Thomas has only played in 20 games, including sitting out the entire 2021 season following ankle surgery.

The time away from the Saints was marked with several bizarre incidents, including Thomas sitting out a game and being fined after punching a teammate during practice in 2020 and an arrest on misdemeanor charges of simple battery and criminal mischief after he allegedly threw a brick through the windshield of a construction worker’s truck in 2023.

In 2023, Thomas played in 10 games for the Saints — his most in a single season since 2019 — and had 39 receptions for 448 yards, which was also his highest total since 2019.

After restructuring his contract for 2023 to reduce his salary from $15 million to $10 million, Thomas was released from the team in March 2024.

Tony Adame covers the NFL for Heavy.com, with a focus on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Washington Commanders and Denver Broncos. A veteran sports writer and editor since 2004, his work has been featured at Stadium Talk, Yardbarker, NW Florida Daily News and Pensacola News Journal. More about Tony Adame

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