Michael Thomas is the NFL’s highest-paid wide receiver and he’s certainly giving the Saints plenty of bang for their buck. The Saints standout is living up to the lucrative five-year extension with $61 million guaranteed that he received in the offseason.
After amassing eight receptions for 114 yards and a touchdown in the 8-2 Saints’ win at the Bucs, Thomas became the first player in league history with at least 90 receptions in each of his first four seasons. In addition, he has the most receptions (94) through 10 games of a season in NFL history.
This comes after Thomas set the record for fastest ever to accumulate 400 receptions last week vs. the Falcons.
— NFL345 (@NFL345) November 17, 2019
Taking it All in Stride
“One thing I learned about those records is when you play at a high level and you’re winning games and you’re playing for your team and just doing your job, when you look up at the end of the day those things usually get accomplished,” Thomas said.
Thomas has 1,141 receiving yards and has recorded at least eight receptions in nine out of 10 games this season. He’s tallied at least 100 yards receiving in four consecutive games, and he is on pace to surpass the single-season marks for receiving yards (Calvin Johnson: 1,964 in 2012) and receptions (Marvin Harrison: 143 in 2002).
“It would be great. It would be awesome. It would be incredible. That would be quite an accomplishment,” Saints quarterback Drew Brees said of Thomas’ pursuit of Harrison’s record.
Brees is grateful for the dynamic element Thomas brings to the offense.
“Here’s the thing: If you saw the guy work and you saw the guy prepare, it’s just what we see every day in practice, honestly,” Brees said. “It’s one of those things that, when it’s all said and done, you look back and really, really appreciate it. I just love his mindset. He is a, ‘I want the ball, I will get open, I will make the play for you’ kind of guy. That’s the kind of guy you want.”
Developing Chemistry with Brees
Thomas has developed an excellent rapport with Brees in their time together.
“He is going to get open. He is going to look you dead in the eye and say, ‘I am going to get open.’ And you believe him, you trust him. You anticipate it and you throw it and most of the time he is right,” Brees said. “That makes for a great receiver. You look at all the numbers and you look at everything else and it shows. He’s on pace to do some pretty remarkable things.”
Saints coach Sean Payton spoke glowingly of Thomas after his performance vs. the Bucs.
“He is real competitive. He is one of those guys that is an extremely powerful player. He is real strong,” Payton said. “He came up big in a lot of snaps for us – the touchdown early was a big play.”
Hard Work Pays Off
Payton adds that all the hard work Thomas puts forth leading up to games pays key dividends.
Now on display in Canton: @Cantguardmike game-worn shoes and gloves from Week 10 of this season, he broke the @NFL record for most receptions by a player in his first 4 seasons. @Saints | #Saints pic.twitter.com/F5QJePQr8c
— Pro Football Hall of Fame (@ProFootballHOF) November 16, 2019
“If you guys would have asked what his numbers were today, I don’t know that I would have been able to give you exact. It is a progression that takes place. Sometimes the ball comes within what we are doing, and sometimes there are plays that are designed for him,” Payton said. “He has been very consistent, he prepares extremely hard and he is very hard on himself during the week of practice. He is playing as good as any of them. I am proud of how he is playing.”
While Thomas is proud of his recent milestones, he’s more focused on helping the Saints accomplish their goal of winning another Super Bowl.
“I’m just playing for my teammates,” Thomas said. “There’s only one goal; we’re trying to play championship ball, and I’m trying to be accountable and do my job at a high level for my teammates,” Thomas said. “… But it’s one game at a time, it’s going to take consistency, it’s going to take me playing at a high level. I’m ready for the challenge to keep showing up and proving myself.”