Saints coach Sean Payton responds to Michael Thomas trade rumors

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Is Michael Thomas on the trade block? Well, it depends on who is answering the question.

Speculation about the Saints wide receiver kicked into high gear Saturday after Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio reported he could be a player to watch ahead of the Nov. 3 trade deadline. Here is how Florio described the situation:

The word “could” is doing a lot of work here. Even the Pro Football Talk tweet about the report says Thomas “could be available in trade at the right price.” There is a wide gap between the Saints actively shopping Thomas and potentially trading him under a specific set of circumstances.

New Orleans coach Sean Payton jumped into the discussion about Thomas with much more definitive language.

“Insiders on the outside where they belong,” Payton tweeted from his verified account, which is currently private.

After setting an NFL record with 149 receptions in 2019, Thomas has only appeared in one game this year, catching three passes for 17 yards in the season opener. He has dealt with ankle and hamstring injuries, and he was taken off the active roster for the Saints’ Week 5 contest against the Chargers because he reportedly punched a teammate during practice.

While there could be real issues the Saints and Thomas need to iron out, this could also be a strategic move. As Florio notes, simply throwing Thomas’ name into the rumor mill may increase the likelihood of New Orleans getting a big offer.

For now, though, it appears Payton isn’t interested in sending Drew Brees’ top target to another team. We’ll see if he changes his mind in the next week or so.

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