Garic: Pierre Thomas is my pick for best Saints free agent running back

Kristian Garic
May 28, 2020 - 2:26 pm

Yes, un-drafted free agents count on my list of best free agent additions at each position in Saints history. Running back Pierre Thomas went un-drafted out of Illinois in 2007 then signed with the Saints. Then special teams coach Greg McMahon recommended Thomas, after being an assistant on the staff that coached him at Illinois.  

At the time Thomas was an extreme dark horse to make the Saints roster. You see, Sean Payton and the Saints drafted running back Antonio Pittman in the fourth round, and already had Reggie Bush, Deuce McAllister and Aaron Stecker on the roster.

Thomas embarked on the 2007 training camp with great intensity. When his roommate was sleeping, Thomas was studying.  When others said, “That's enough extra work,” PT was still on the field catching the attention of his coaches. By the end of training camp in 2007, the Saints kept Thomas over their draft pick Antonio Pittman.

Initially Thomas made his impact on special teams.  His rookie season he only had 79 touches on offense.  Opportunity came knocking in 2008, when a mid-season injury to Reggie Bush forced Thomas into the lead running back job.  The PT Bruiser took advantage averaging 112 yards a game from weeks 11 through 16 that season.  

In 2009, Thomas really took off.  In week 2 he posted his best game as a pro, rushing for 126 yards, 2 touchdowns on 14 carries.  I remember that game well.  It was the second game of my career reporting from the Saints sideline.  What is little known about that performance... Thomas had food poisoning the night before and didn't touch the football until the second half in the battle with Buffalo.

PT had a knack for running the screen play.  In fact, the first Saint to ever score a touchdown in a Super Bowl is Pierre Thomas, and yep, it was on a screen play.  I remember it well.  I can still hear then Voice of the Saints, Jim Henderson, screaming "Thomas makes a move and he scores!”  

Pierre Thomas’ career in New Orleans came to an end in 2015, when the Saints released him.  He will forever be loved by the Saints Nation.  PT epitomized New Orleans.  His calling cards were hard work, dedication, toughness & selflessness.  He's the best free agent running back in Saints history.

Some of you might take umbrage with Thomas being my pick. You might be screaming, what about Darren Sproles?  Here are the factors that led to my decision.  1. Pierre Thomas was an un-drafted free agent, which means based on production vs cost, he was a bargain.  2.  PT helped the Saints win a Super Bowl.  That counts big time.  3.  He had a longer career with the Saints.  Thomas played 8 seasons in New Orleans; Darren Sproles played 4 seasons with the Saints.  Many great Black & Gold memories are tied to #23. 


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