Sean Payton met with the media this morning for the final time before Super Bowl XLIV, and during his press conference he touched on how the Saints landed David Thomas from the Patriots.
In Saints training camp, reliable reserve tight end Billy Miller tore his right Achilles’ tendon. Right away, Payton and the Saints searched the league for a team they could match up with for a trade.
“We knew New England had a lot of depth at tight end,” Payton said. “We had made trades with them before. It was just a matter of trying to find out maybe if any of those players would be available. Fortunately, we were able to obtain David.”
The Saints acquired Thomas for a seventh round pick in 2011. (“I was very surprised at that,” tight end Jeremy Shockey said earlier this week. “Sometimes, people just need a shot, and he got his shot on this team. He’s a great player. He’s a great teammate. You won’t meet too many David Thomases.”*) Thomas became a productive piece of the Saints prolific offense, catching 35 passes for 356 yards.
Thomas, a third-round Patriots draft choice in 2006, became most valuable when Shockey suffered an ankle injury and had his playing time limited in the postseason. Thomas caught three passes for 32 yards in the NFC Championship game and drew a key, if controversial, pass interference penatly on the drive that sent the Saints to the Super Bowl.
“He’s a guy that plays in a lot of different spots,” Payton said. “He’s versatile. He’s smart. You know exactly what you’re getting. Sometimes, you’ve got to be careful not to give him too many snaps. With Jeremy’s health a few weeks ago, he was playing more than maybe you would like. But he’s certainly been an important part of what we’re doing offensively.”
*I believe the plural is actually Thomai.