NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - So the Saints' offseason axe has finally begun to drop and Pierre Thomas was the first one in its path.
Judging by the reaction from the fan base since the move, it's a decision the Who Dat Nation is not happy with.
I can't say that I blame them. Of all the moves Sean Payton and Mickey Loomis have made together, I've agreed with the overwhelming majority of them.
I can't this time.
Yes, Thomas is 30. Yes, he's had some injuries. And yes the Saints are $21 million over the salary cap.
But Thomas is still one of the most reliable, respected warriors in the organization. He may not be a superstar but he was as steady as they come. I will always say that he was the MVP of the NFC title game against Minnesota. He was the calm in that emotional roller coaster of a game.
True, that game was five years ago but the fact is Thomas, even at 30, can still break tackles and can still pick up the blitz. And there's not a player in the last two decades of the NFL that I would rather have executing the screen pass than him.
Plus, on a team starving for leaders Thomas was universally revered. We all saw what happened last season when too many intangibles walked out the door. It was the biggest culprit to their 7-9 disaster.
On the economic side, there's no doubt the Saints needed to cut costs, but Thomas only carried a $2.5 million cap hit. They saved $1.7 million with the move. Sure, every penny helps but this was not the big cost saving measure one would expect. Releasing guys like Ben Grubbs, Broderick Bunkley and David Hawthorne and making a few contract bonus conversions would net them even bigger savings.
All of those moves could still be on the horizon as more are sure to come.
And there's no doubt Payton and Loomis have a plan in place. There's no way they would make a move this big without having an idea of how they want to replace Thomas. As of now they only have Khiry Robinson and Tim Hightower under contract.
Maybe they already have circled the player they want. Maybe they are making a big move to bring back Mark Ingram.
We'll know their future decisions very soon. But for now, it's hard to believe Pierre Thomas is a part of their past.