Considered by quarterback and team captain Drew Brees as “one of the best teammates” he’s ever had, Saints tight end and potential unrestricted free agent David Thomas hopes to remain with the franchise when the lockout ends.
“I would like to be back. And before the lockout, we had talked enough to where I’m pretty comfortable that they want me back. And hopefully as soon as we get all this other stuff worked out, then we’ll get something worked out,” said Thomas.
A third-round pick (86th overall) out of Texas by the New England Patriots, Thomas caught 21 passes for 261 yards and a touchdown his first three seasons in the league before the Saints traded a conditional 2011 draft pick (upgraded to a sixth-round, which New England traded to the Denver Broncos as part of the Laurence Maroney trade) to acquire him in September of 2009.
Thomas caught 35 passes for 356 yards and a touchdown during his first season with the Saints, earning a Super Bowl ring as the number two tight end behind Jeremy Shockey. Last year, Thomas caught 30 passes for 219 yards and a career-high two touchdowns.
2010 third-round pick Jimmy Graham is expected to take a feature role in the Saints’ offense now that Jeremy Shockey has been released, but is raw and could benefit from having a versatile veteran like Thomas as a mentor. As they did when he was denied unrestricted free agency by the rules governing the uncapped 2010 league year, the Saints placed a restricted free agent tender on Thomas before the lockout.
“He’s as competitive as the next guy, but you never outwardly see any kind of disgust or bad body language,” Brees said of Thomas. “He’s always positive. He’s always thinking about ‘how I can help the team, and when I’m called upon to make a play, I’m going to make it, whether it’s making the key block on a run play or a pass play or catching the ball down the field or whatever it might be.’