Jacksonville Jaguars dubbed the best landing spot for former OPOY

• PFF thinks the Jaguars would be the ideal destination for a former OPOY who's still looking for a team.

Sep 18, 2023; Charlotte, North Carolina, USA; New Orleans Saints wide receiver Michael Thomas (13)
Sep 18, 2023; Charlotte, North Carolina, USA; New Orleans Saints wide receiver Michael Thomas (13) / Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports
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The Jacksonville Jaguars could still use help at wide receiver even after signing Gabe Davis in free agency. That's led Gordon McGuiness of Pro Football Focus to suggest they sign the NFL's 2019 Offensive Player of the Year, who remains unsigned after becoming a free agent in March.

McGuinness put together a list of the best landing spots for free agents still looking for a home and suggests the Jags sign Michael Thomas, noting that he's still got some gas in the tank after dealing with several injuries the past few years.

"Thomas is still a smooth glider who can make contested catches with great hands and footwork along the sideline. He doesn't quite have the same explosiveness of his heydays, but elite athleticism was never necessarily how he won. He is more of a master technician, so it's all a question of health."

Back in 2019, Thomas was one of the most dominant receivers in the league. A second-round pick by the New Orleans Saints in 2016, the former Ohio State Buckeye reeled in 470 receptions for 5,512 yards with 32 touchdowns. Unfortunately, injuries slowed him down from 2020-2022. Last year, he managed to catch 39 passes, his highest output since 2020, when he had 40.

Last year, Thomas reworked his deal in a way that forced the Saints to revisit it this offseason. If he had been on the roster by the third day of the league year (March 15), he would've gotten a jaw-dropping $119 million in future bonuses.

This made him for all purposes impossible to keep, so New Orleans released him with a post-June 1 designation, freeing $1.2 million against the cap but leaving $11.2 million in dead money in 2024, and $9.8 million next year.

Three weeks into free agency, Thomas remains unsigned. One reason may be his health. He finished 2023 on injured reserve with a knee injury. The fact that he has only played more than seven games in a season since 2020 is probably making teams wary of signing him.

The Jaguars have better (and healthier options) than Michael Thomas at WR

If this were 2019, it would make sense for the Jacksonville Jaguars to go after Michael Thomas but he's currently just a shell of the playmaker he was back then. On top of that, he may not be a great locker room fit. Before his departure from The Big Easy, he antagonized a local reporter for discussing the Saints' decision to move on from him. It's fair to say that he didn't take it well.

Granted, the Jags need to help at wide receiver after losing Calvin Ridley in free agency but they're going to have better options. They currently hold the No. 17 in the 2024 draft. They could take one of the top prospects in the draft, or if they want to pull off a bold move, they could trade for either Tee Higgins or Brandon Aiyuk. While unlikely, it would make more sense than signing Thomas, as both of them are younger and healthier.

You could rightly argue that bringing in Thomas would be cheaper than trading for Higgins or Aiyuk and you would be right. He could sign a one-year prove-it deal but he would come in with legitimate injury flags, and what's the point of signing a player if he cannot contribute?

Michael Thomas showed in 2023 that he still has a bit of football left in him. That said, it's uncertain how much he could help the Jaguars next season, which means he would be a long shot to land in Jacksonville.

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