Deuce: In praise of his pal, Pierre Thomas
It’s a fact of life for NFL running backs, and Deuce McAllister knows it better than anyone.
“One of two things eventually is going to get you as a running back in the NFL,” McAllister said Thursday morning. “Either injuries or the salary cap.”
Injuries got Deuce, a Mississippi Sports Hall of Famer.
The salary cap got his buddy, Pierre Thomas, who was released Wednesday by the New Orleans Saints.
Thomas was due $2.1 million in base salary in 2015. The Saints have to cut more than $20 million to comply wiht the NFL’s salary cap. Thomas is a casualty.
And for Saints fans, this one hurts. Thomas, an 8-year veteran, has been a dependable, sometimes remarkable eight-year contributor. He might have been the best screen pass receiver these eyes have seen. He was uncanny at following blocks and extending runs in the open field.
“I compare him to Kevin Faulk as an NFL back,” McAllister said. “Like Kevin, Pierre could do a little bit of everything. He wasn’t going to ever be the biggest of the fastest but he was always going to be in the right place at the right time. Rarely did he turn it over. Rarely did he make a mistakes.”
McAllister and Thomas were teammates for two years.
“Great teammate,” McAllister said. “He was like a sponge when he first came to camp. He soaked up everything. He worked hard at every aspect.”
McAllister said Thomas was a long shot to make the team as a rookie.
“Pierre was an undrafted free agent,” McAllister said. “We had drafted Antonio Pittman in the fourth round out of Ohio State. Basically, Pierre had to beat him out. I don’t think a lot of people had expected that to happen, but Pierre just did everything he was supposed to do.”
Just because the 30-year-old Thomas is no longer a Saint does not mean he will no longer play professional football. The Saints should just hope that Thomas doesn’t land with a division rival they have to play twice a year.
“Pierre will be OK,” McAllister said. “He’s got another couple years at least. There’s a place for him somewhere as a third down back, a special teams captain and a starter if someone gets hurt.
“I could see Chicago being interested in him or Green Bay…”
That last part would be a scary thought for anybody with the Packers on their schedule: Pierre Thomas catching screen passes in that Green Bay offense that does it as well, if not better, than anyone.
We shall see. As someone who has watched the Saints on a weekly basis for all of Thomas’s eight seasons, he will be missed. In black and gold, he was a pleasure to watch.