Drew Brees would NOT have made the playoffs this season if the Saints hadn't cut a deal with Michael Thomas to end his holdout ... so says ex-New Orleans great Lance Moore.
"Without Mike," Moore tells TMZ Sports ... "I don't know if we're even talking about the Saints as a playoff team, to be honest with you."
Thomas had been in a contract feud with New Orleans the last few months, and even held out of training camp practices in July to prove he was serious about getting a new deal.
But, the Saints finally offered up a 5-year, $100 MILLION deal ... and Moore says it's a good thing Thomas signed it, because he doesn't think New Orleans' offense is all that good without the star wideout.
"Not to slight any of the other receivers on that roster, but there is nobody. Even putting all those guys together, they cannot make up for the loss of a Michael Thomas."
Moore is clearly super high on Thomas, but he says the praise is warranted because the guy has an unprecedented 321 catches in his first 3 years in the league!!!
By the way, Moore says there's ZERO chance Thomas regresses now that he's got a fat, new contract, telling us, "He's a guy that is very, very tireless in preparation. He's fanatical about football."
As for where Moore sees the Saints ending up now that all the contract drama is behind them ... he tells us he thinks New Orleans is Super Bowl bound!!!