Cowboys Could Make ‘Upside’ Signing With 3-Time Pro Bowl WR: Analyst

Dak Prescott

Getty The Cowboys could pursue Saints WR Michael Thomas if he's a free agent.

The Dallas Cowboys could make a high “upside” signing at wide receiver.

It’s no secret that one of Dallas’ biggest weaknesses is their lack of depth at the wide receiver position. According to a suggestion from SB Nation’s Tom Ryle, the Cowboys could find a bargain deal in New Orleans Saints wide receiver Michael Thomas. As is the theme in Ryle’s article, this signing is contingent on New Orleans releasing Thomas, who still has two years left on his deal.

However, the Saints’ lackluster salary cap situation — just under $45 million over the salary cap, second-worst mark in the league — combined with Thomas’ inability to stay on the field could lead to New Orleans releasing the three-time Pro Bowl wide receiver.

“This one might be too much to resist for Stephen Jones, because Thomas has only played in ten games over the past three seasons due to injury,” says Ryle. “That is going to sap his leverage and could make him amenable to a low base salary, incentive-laden one-year deal. And the team continues to flirt with Odell Beckham Jr. They are not afraid to take on a player with injury history if it means a bargain deal. Wide receiver is arguably the biggest roster need this year, and while it has risks, this could have a lot of upside for the team.”

Why Saints’ Michael Thomas Could Emerge as Cap Casualty

As Ryle notes, Thomas has appeared in just 10 games over the last three seasons due to ankle and foot injuries. The Saints can release Thomas as a post-June 1 cut for a dead cap hit of just under $12 million. However, they save a little over $1 million for the 2023 season by doing so. If Thomas is released prior to June 1, the Saints absorb a dead cap hit of $26.1 million while saving over $12.8 million for the 2023 season.

Previously one of the best — if not the best — receivers in the NFL, Thomas signed a five-year, $100 million contract extension with $61 million guaranteed before the 2019 season. That contract made him the highest-paid receiver in the league at the time.

He’s obviously been a major bust in recent years due to injuries. However, at his best, he’s one of the most dynamic receivers in the league. Thomas set the NFL record with 149 receptions in 2019, along with producing 1,725 yards and nine touchdowns in that same season.

Cowboys Could Make Biggest Bargain Signing in Michael Thomas

The Cowboys will obviously have a number of options to pursue, including free agent receivers such as Odell Beckham Jr, D.J. Chark, Allen Lazard and Juju Smith-Schuster.

With that being said, neither of those receivers possess the upside that Thomas has. It’s also worth noting that when Thomas was on the field during the 2022 season, he produced. In three games, Thomas had 16 receptions for 171 yards and three touchdowns. While that’s a very small sample size, Thomas was on pace for 91 receptions, 969 receiving yards and 17 touchdowns.

Considering Thomas has already earned his money, he should have little issue signing a bargain deal with the Cowboys. If Dallas swings and misses on the current free agent crop of receivers, there’s no reason why the Cowboys shouldn’t pursue Thomas if he becomes available.

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