By BRETT MARTEL AP Sports Writer
METAIRIE, La. (AP) — Saints general manager Mickey Loomis is declining to predict a quick resolution to team-leading receiver Michael Thomas’ contract holdout.
“I don’t know. It’s just so hard to tell,” Loomis said on Thursday evening, after Thomas missed the deadline to report for training camp. “I don’t know the mindset of the other party.
“All these deals that are in the magnitude we’re going to be ending up at, it’s a negotiation, there’s a lot of give and take,” Loomis added.
The first practice of Saints camp is Friday, and Thomas, who is entering the final season of his rookie contract, was the only player who had failed to report. But there is also a lot of money at stake.
Thomas has established himself as an elite receiver with 321 catches for 3,787 yards and 23 touchdowns in his first three NFL seasons. Currently, Cleveland’s Odell Beckham Jr. has the highest annual salary of any NFL receiver at around $18 million, so Thomas’ deal is expected to be in that range, if not higher.
Loomis said he does not believe the negotiation positions of the two sides are far apart, but also indicated that determining Thomas’ value to the Saints is not as simple as comparing production and salary numbers among other top receivers around the league.
“We’re going to do a deal that we feel works for us regardless of what other teams may or may not do,” Loomis asserted. “I understand (Thomas’) thinking. He wants to be paid the value that he perceives himself. You don’t open up a book and there it is. You’ve got to determine what that is, and people have different viewpoints of it.
“He’s got good representation. He’s been very professional,” Loomis added. “I’m not disappointed in him. He has a right to negotiate and accept or decline how he sees fit. I don’t like the fact that he has a contract and he’s not here. I’m not mad about it. It’s just the way it is.”
Loomis added that he is in touch with Thomas or his representatives “every day.”
Thomas plays in an offense run by record-setting quarterback Drew Brees and designed by Sean Payton, who has presided over one of the NFL’s most productive offenses for nearly a decade and a half.
At the same time, however, Brees has overwhelmingly thrown Thomas’ way in recent seasons.
Last season, Thomas ranked first in the NFL in catches with 125, sixth in yards receiving with 1,405 and his nine touchdowns tied for 10th. He has eclipsed 1,000 yards receiving in each of his first three seasons since New Orleans made him a second-round draft choice out of Ohio State.
Payton did not sound too concerned about Thomas’ absence — at least, not yet — noting that position groups hadn’t even had their first meeting of camp yet, never mind their first practice.
“I’m optimistic it will be done fairly soon,” the coach said. “I’m sure those guys are working on it and the focus that I have now is on the players that are here.”
Payton also said he was not surprised by Thomas’ holdout, which the receiver foreshadowed on social media late last week, when he wrote: “I want every penny that’s mine. I don’t want a penny more or a penny less.”
NOTES: Payton announced that the Saints signed defensive tackle Ziggy Hood, cornerback T.J. Green and linebacker Josh Martin. Payton said the club also waived defensive tackle Kenny Bigelow and receiver Chad Hansen. Bigelow was waived with an injury designation, meaning he could wind up on injured reserved or reaching an injury settlement if he is not claimed off waivers.