March 3, 2011

Saints ink RB Pierre Thomas to four-year contract

Hours before the deadline for labor peace or a possible extension, the Saints announced a new four-year contract for Pierre Thomas.

Pending a passed physical, no small detail because of his 2010 injuries, the new contract is reportedly a four-year deal worth $12 million.

UPDATE:  The new contract for Thomas doesn't include a signing bonus per se, but other guaranteed money in the form of his $640k now-guaranteed base salary and a $2.7 million roster bonus that is guaranteed this 2011.  Pat Yaskinkas of ESPN.com has the complete contract details.  Thomas is due a base salary of $2.16 million in 2012, $860k guaranteed plus a $100k workout bonus; in 2013, $2.1 million in base salary plus a $300k roster bonus and a $100k workout bonus; in 2014, $2.5 million in base salary plus a $300k roster bonus and a $100,000 workout bonus.

The Saints had previously placed a restricted free agent tag on Thomas, though it was not guaranteed to have any effect under the new CBA.  Thomas would have been an unrestricted free agent in the rules before the final league year.

The size of the contract is no doubt affected by his injury-riddled year.  Thomas' representation had reportedly begun negotiations at the numbers of Rams RB Steven Jackson's last contract: six-year, $44.8 million with $20 million guaranteed.   The new contract for Thomas though is a reflection of his status as a committee back in the Saints' offense - highly effective but not an every-down, every-carry player.

The Saints offense hasn't ever been built around a feature back in the Sean Payton era- even Deuce McAllister gave way to Reggie Bush.

Thomas started only one game in 2010 as Reggie Bush, Lynell Hamilton and Ladell Betts all succumbed to injury.  Chris Ivory enjoyed a breakout year but he too failed to finish the season healthy, leaving the Saints with free agent journeyman Julius Jones in the playoffs.

After rushing for 1687 yards his first three seasons, Thomas found only 252 on the ground last season, appearing in only 12 games, and reportedly worked his way into Sean Payton's doghouse.  Thomas finally landed on IR before the playoffs, ending a season of frayed patience over injuries and his contract status.

Thomas commented on his twitter account: "big thanks to all my fans, i def feel the love...so many great comments from so many people. #whodat"

Lance Moore chimed in on his twitter as well: "Watching espn as I'm sure a lot of players are. And def gotta send my individual congrats out to the homie @Pierre_Thomas. U deserve it!!!"

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