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After putting off signing his tender offer until June 14, the day before the Saints could reduce their original offer by more than $1.1 million, RB Pierre Thomas reiterated that he still wanted a longer and more lucrative contract from New Orleans before training camp. Thomas, who was a restricted free agent, is under contract for one year and he is due to make $1.684 million during the 2010 season.
Thomas' agent, Lamont Smith, denied a rumor that Thomas is looking for a contract similar to the six-year, $44.805 million deal the Rams' Steven Jackson signed almost two years ago, but Thomas is clearly looking for a significant raise, and the Saints would like to keep Thomas around for the foreseeable future.
With about three weeks to go until training camp, it appears Thomas would like more than the Saints are willing to give. There's still enough time for the two sides to find common ground, however.
The Saints' initial offer to Thomas this offseason was reportedly a four-year, $11 million deal. When asked if he had a preference about whether Thomas plays on a one-year tender or a longer contract this season, Saints head coach Sean Payton said he's just glad Thomas is under contract.
"Well, you try to move the biases or preferences out," Payton recently told PFW. "(Thomas is) somebody that, first off, we're proud of. The journey he's come from, as a free agent, undrafted out of Illinois, and he came in and beat out a fourth-round pick (for a roster spot) that same season. He's pretty much earned everything he's gotten. There's always a special place for guys that have worked that hard. I think he's someone that has endeared himself to our fan base, and certainly he's a great teammate.
"In the end, I think our league does as good a job as any league in any sport in paying attention to that and rewarding those types of players. As a preference, what I'm happy most about is that he's back and he signed his tender."
Thomas, who led the team in rushing in each of the past two seasons, may not be happy until he gets the reward he and Smith believe is deserved. The fourth-year back stayed away from some offseason practices while he was unsigned, but he will be fined if he doesn't report to training camp on July 29.
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