What Michael Thomas’ extension with Saints could mean for Steelers’ JuJu Smith-Schuster | TribLIVE.com

What Michael Thomas’ extension with Saints could mean for Steelers’ JuJu Smith-Schuster

Chris Adamski
NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA - DECEMBER 23: Michael Thomas #13 of the New Orleans Saints is tackled by Terrell Edmunds #34 of the Pittsburgh Steelers during the first half at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on December 23, 2018 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

As a former second-round pick still on his rookie contract who has become a 100-catch centerpiece of an offense, the New Orleans Saints’ Michael Thomas has plenty in common with the Pittsburgh Steelers’ JuJu Smith-Schuster.

As such, how likely contract-extension negotiations play out this summer between Thomas and the Saints potentially could provide a roadmap for what happens between the Steelers and Smith-Schuster next year at this time.

Drafted a year before Smith-Schuster at No. 47 overall, Thomas is entering the final year of his contract. According to ESPN, the Saints “likely will find a way to take care of Thomas” in regards to a lucrative extension before the season begins. ESPN even speculates that “it’s not out of the question that Thomas could become the NFL’s first receiver to average $20 million per year.”

Smith-Schuster, the No. 62 overall pick in 2017, isn’t quite to Thomas’ level just yet. Thomas has 321 career catches, the most in NFL history for any player over his first three seasons. Smith-Schuster has 169 catches through two seasons.

That said, if Smith-Schuster matches his 2018 production (111 catches, 1,426 yards) this season without Antonio Brown as a running mate, that would signify he’s solidly in Thomas’ company as one of the NFL’s best receivers. He also would be 2 ½ years younger than Thomas when he was entering the final season of his contract, with when accounting for a year’s worth of NFL salary inflation could indicate that Smith-Schuster could demand a contract similar to what Thomas gets.

Plenty has to happen before it gets to that point (Thomas gets his deal, Smith-Schuster stays healthy and has another monster season), but how the Saints/Thomas contract talks go might be something Steelers fans should keep an eye on.

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Chris Adamski is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Chris by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .

Categories: Sports | Steelers
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