Michael Thomas-Sean Payton reunion in Denver could make a ton of sense for both sides

Should the Denver Broncos explore a potential trade for Saints WR Michael Thomas in the offseason?

New Orleans Saints v Minnesota Vikings
New Orleans Saints v Minnesota Vikings / Stephen Maturen/GettyImages

The wide receiver position for the Denver Broncos in 2023 has been mostly lackluster for various reasons. Head coach Sean Payton's offense being predicated off of a heavy run game paired with a high amount of halfback screens has certainly not put Denver's receivers in the best position to produce at a high level given the situation. However, the lack of production in that unit stems beyond those reasons.

Quarterback Russell Wilson simply has not performed to expectations in his second season with the Broncos and has especially shown issues with distributing the ball down the field and making the proper progressions to give his receivers the ball in open space. This is due to several issues including his poor pocket presence and absent anticipation thus putting his receivers at an extreme disadvantage. Most of the time when the receivers do catch a pass, it is on the scramble drill or on an off schedule play.

Because the quarterback position has strongly held back from opening up Payton's offensive playbook, the front office will likely be bringing in a new signal-caller, whether that be a rookie or a veteran with experience. Broncos wide receiver Jerry Jeudy, who has evidently been disgruntled and frustrated with his lack of targets throughout the season, could very well be on his way out in the offseason meaning that a new spot will be open on the depth chart.

One name to watch that could make a lot of sense for both sides is New Orleans Saints wide receiver Michael Thomas who played under Sean Payton from 2016-2020. Thomas, who is currently on the injured reserve with a knee injury, is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent in 2025. Despite having a long history of injuries including an ankle injury that held him out of 26 straight games, the Broncos could consider trading for the 2X All-Pro receiver.

A trade would likely require just a fifth or sixth round pick considering his expiring contract and long list of injury concerns making it very feasible for the Broncos to achieve. The Broncos' new strength and conditioning group led by Dan Dalrymple and Beau Lowery have done an excellent job limiting injuries this season and could do the same to keep Thomas at his healthiest. This is a low-risk, high reward type scenario for the Broncos that could pay dividends for their offense.

If Thomas underperforms or continues to suffer injuries, then you have other receivers to rely on and step up such as Courtland Sutton, Marvin Mims Jr., possibly Tim Patrick or Jerry Jeudy, and potentially a rookie that the team drafts. But if Thomas can return to full health, he could produce at a high level in Payton's offense like he was able to for four straight seasons in New Orleans and would be an amazing compliment to Sutton across the field.

It would be a win-win for both sides. Saints, who are in cap trouble, would replenish cap space, add a draft pick, and become younger at the position. The broncos would add a potential x-factor to their offensive arsenal for a cheap price. However, for this trade to be financially possible for Denver, they would likely have to cut Tim Patrick and/or trade Jerry Jeudy.

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