The NFL MVP award is likely heading to Lamar Jackson but New Orleans Saints superstar wide receiver Michael Thomas is more than deserving.
For years, the NFL MVP award has eluded the New Orleans Saints, always having viable candidates but, much like their recent playoff fate, never quite getting to the mountaintop. But while Drew Brees opened the year as the Saints’ favorite to possibly be named MVP, another candidate staked a much stronger claim: wide receiver Michael Thomas.
After signing a big contract during the offseason, Thomas put in work and proved that he deserves to be NFL MVP. Lamar Jackson is likely to win the award by all accounts and Russell Wilson is another top candidate. However, Thomas set himself apart this season and owned his position, making his very own case for the league’s top individual honor. He might not be the popular choice, but it deserves to be a conversation nevertheless.
Thomas’ candidacy begins with the records he broke in the 2019 campaign. He finished the regular season with the highest number of receptions in a single season, passing Marvin Harrison‘s previous mark of 144 with 149 for the Saints superstar. In addition to breaking that, Thomas now has the most receiving yards ever in a player’s first four years, surpassing Randy Moss, which is no easy feat.
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Breaking records is only one piece of the puzzle, though. As impressive as his statistics were, Thomas really honed in on his craft during the 2019 season. After signing a mega-contract, it’s like he unlocked an entirely new level for himself. And you could make the argument he’d have been even better had he had a full season with a healthy Brees.
The way Thomas handled adversity also favors his case for NFL MVP consideration. While some players would struggle under a new quarterback, Thomas thrived. Teddy Bridgewater was good but not the elite player Brees is. And having Thomas certainly made his life easier. He didn’t let the loss of his veteran quarterback hinder his performance.
Perhaps the biggest factor in Thomas’ MVP case, though, is his role in New Orleans. Whereas Jackson and Wilson are touching the ball on every play and have the offense designed around them, Thomas did his work as a cog — albeit a critical one — in a bigger picture.
It’s not groundbreaking to say the Saints are back to being a passing team but they also have Alvin Kamara and Latavius Murray to feed. While Thomas is a huge part of the offense, their entire playbook doesn’t focus solely on his strengths. Rather, Thomas makes sure that if the ball is in his hands, he’s making plays.
Of all the players on a hypothetical MVP ballot, Michael Thomas probably isn’t going to win. That shouldn’t negate how impressive of a season Thomas had. He’s at the top of his game and there seems to be no sign of him slowing down. Despite him being deserving of winning NFL MVP, it’s unlikely that it’s going to happen for him in 2020.