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Saints parting ways with veteran running back Pierre Thomas after 8 seasons with the club

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NEW ORLEANS — The New Orleans Saints have notified veteran running back Pierre Thomas that he is being released after eight seasons with the club.

Thomas' agent, Lamont Smith, confirmed the move Wednesday, while Thomas posted messages about the end of his playing days in New Orleans on social media.

"I want to thank the New Orleans Saints organization, all my coaches, my teammates and the Who Dat Nation for an amazing adventur," Thomas wrote on his Twitter page. "I have so many wonderful memories I will never forget. I am thankful to have spent the past 8 years in the great city of New Orleans! ... All good things must come to an end but I'm not done yet!!!"

Thomas, 30, joined the Saints as an undrafted free agent out of Illinois in 2007 and was a key figure on offense in his third season, turning screen passes into pivotal touchdowns in both the NFC Championship game victory over Minnesota and in the Super Bowl triumph over Indianapolis.

While Thomas never rushed for more than 793 yards in a season, his proficiency in the short passing game helped him approach or surpass 1,000 yards from scrimmage in several seasons, the last in 2013.

Last season, however, was among his least productive, in large part because he missed five games with rib and shoulder injuries. He finished with 222 yards and two touchdowns rushing to go with 378 yards and one touchdown receiving.

The Saints did not immediately comment on the move, which had yet to be made official on the NFL's transaction list for Wednesday. But the rationale for releasing Thomas could have had as much to do with his contract as his dip in production last season.

Thomas was due $2.1 million in base salary in 2015 and Saints general manager Mickey Loomis has been working to bring the Saints payroll down by more than $20 million in order to be in compliance with the NFL's salary cap for next season.

Several other high-paid veterans also could be released in coming days if they cannot agree on contract changes that will reduce their salaries for the coming league year, which begins March 10.


AP NFL websites: http://www.pro32.ap.org and http://www.twitter.com/AP_NFL

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