Mike Tomlin Michael Thomas


Mike Tomlin Michael Thomas


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SI.com’s All Steelers’ Noah Strackbein argued the Pittsburgh Steelers should consider signing 2-time All-Pro wide receiver Michael Thomas.

The Pittsburgh Steelers have signed two wide receivers since trading Diontae Johnson to the Carolina Panthers. However, they could still be in the market for another free agent wideout addition such as Michael Thomas.

SI.com’s All Steelers’ Noah Strackbein argued on April 5 that the Steelers should pursue the former New Orleans Saints receiver.

“Michael Thomas remains on the free agent market after spending the first eight years of his career in New Orleans,” Strackbein wrote. “He’s looking for a new home after four years of injury-ridden seasons, hoping to rebound with a new franchise at 31-years-old and with 10 healthy games behind him from last season.

“At his best, Thomas is a great No. 2 receiver in the NFL – at this point in his career. Before several injuries, he had four consecutive 1,000-yard seasons, with his best coming in 2019 when he led the league with 1,725 yards and nine touchdowns. If he’s healthy but not a 1,000-yard option, he’s still a very reliable No. 3 who can play the slot, which is what the Steelers need.”

During his prime, Thomas was one of the best wideouts in the NFL. He made first-team All-Pro in 2018 and 2019.

Thomas peaked in 2019 when he led the NFL with 149 receptions and 1,725 receiving yards. Thomas, who is a free agent this offseason, also had 9 receiving touchdowns.


How Michael Thomas Could Fit With the Steelers

If the price is right, there’s little downside to the Steelers taking a chance on Thomas.

That’s essentially what the team is doing with veteran wide receivers Van Jefferson and Quez Watkins. The Steelers signed each wideout to a 1-year deal worth $1.292 million. Under $200,000 of that amount was guaranteed at the signing.

Even with those additions, the Steelers only have one wide receiver currently on their roster who had more than 209 receiving yards last season. So, they could use an upgrade at the position.

Thomas isn’t the All-Pro he once was. But in 2023, he had 39 catches for 448 receiving yards — twice what any other Steelers receiver not named George Pickens did last year.

Thomas could serve nicely as a possession receiver playing opposite Pickens, who led the NFL with an 18.1 yards per reception average in 2023.

The problem, though, is it’s highly unlikely Thomas signs for under $2 million as Jefferson and Watkins did. Spotrac projected Thomas’ market value to be $9.2 million on a 1-year deal this offseason.

The Steelers would have to weigh the risks with Thomas to determine if he’s worth that amount. Over the last four years, he’s missed 67 games because of injuries and hasn’t recorded one season with 500 yards.


Steelers Still Need a Starting WR

If healthy, Thomas could be a great WR3 for an NFL team this season. But Pittsburgh couldn’t just use an upgrade at WR3; the team needs another wide receiver starter.

Jefferson and Watkins have starting experience. However, they combined for only 351 receiving yards last year.

Calvin Austin and Cordarrelle Patterson are the other playmakers with NFL experience on Pittsburgh’s current roster. With only 17 catches last season, Austin isn’t ready for a starting role opposite Pickens.

As for Patterson, he could line up in the slot as a receiver. But he’s really best served playing running back on offense.

If the Steelers sign a receiver before the draft, it should be a wideout who eliminates the near requirement the team currently has to add to the position on the first two days of the draft. But with his injury past, Thomas won’t do that.

Even if the Steelers signed Thomas, they would probably still need to draft a receiver capable of starting immediately.

Still, targeting Thomas shouldn’t be off the table for Pittsburgh. If the Steelers successfully find a WR2 in the draft, Thomas could be worth the risk as a WR3.

Dave Holcomb is a sports reporter covering the NFL and MLB for Heavy.com, with a focus on the Pittsburgh Steelers and Detroit Lions. Originally from Pittsburgh, Holcomb has covered college and professional sports for outlets including Fansided, Rotowire and Yardbarker. More about Dave Holcomb



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