Here's why Michael Thomas, Saints are stuck as wideout seeks to reach $20M-a-year mark

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In a quest to become the first wide receiver to break the $20 million-per-season threshold, New Orleans Saints star Michael Thomas appears poised to hold out of training camp.

Two league sources told Yahoo Sports the impasse between Thomas and the Saints has been brewing for months, with the Saints offering to make Thomas the highest paid wideout in the league with a deal that would pay him slightly more than the five-year, $90 million contract signed by Odell Beckham Jr. in 2018. The sources said the Saints have offered a contract that would average between $18 million and $19 million. That wouldn’t breach the $20 million-per-season mark that Thomas is currently seeking.

Michael Thomas is seen during the Pittsburgh Steelers at New Orleans Saints NFL football game on Sunday, Dec. 23, 2018, in New Orleans. (Tyler Kaufman/AP Images for Head & Shoulders)
Michael Thomas is entering the final season of his four-year deal with the Saints. (AP)

As it stands, Thomas is in the final year of his rookie deal and would be expected to be one of the most coveted offensive players in the 2020 free-agent class.

“I wouldn’t say [we’re a long way apart],” Saints general manager Mickey Loomis told reporters Thursday. “… All these deals that are in the magnitude we’re going to be ending up at, I think there’s always – you know, it’s a negotiation. There’s a lot of give and take. Ultimately, the urgency that you’d like to have happen in February, March, April or May ends up getting dragged out to right before or during training camp. It’s just the nature of the business. We’re going to do a deal that we feel works for us, regardless of what the other teams may or may not do.”

To date, the negotiation hasn’t been contentious. Loomis made that clear on Thursday. And for his part, Thomas has been largely silent, aside from some tweets that make it clear he’s reaching for his top market value without actually having to go to the free-agent market to get it.

A few wideouts are watching for a potential Thomas deal, which could impact their extensions. That group includes the Atlanta Falcons’ Julio Jones, Kansas City’s Tyreek Hill and Dallas’ Amari Cooper.

At the moment, Jones and the Falcons appear to be very close to an extension, while talks between the Chiefs and Hill are expected to pick up in the coming days. Cooper’s deal has been on the back burner for the Cowboys, at least partially because his camp has been patient about seeing where other wide receiver deals land.

Thomas led the Saints with 1,405 receiving yards last season on 125 catches. While it’s likely the Saints would franchise-tag him if an extension can’t be reached, he would be one of the most coveted free agents on the 2020 market.

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