What is the situation with Saints WR Michael Thomas
By: Jeremy Trottier
The New Orleans Saints have struggled this offseason with injuries, suspensions, and cuts of players that would be considered starters entering this season. Just to name a few of these issues:
- Suspension: David Onyemata (DT1)
- Pending/Probable suspension: Deonte Harris (WR3) & Marshon Lattimore (CB1)
- Injuries: Wil Lutz (K), Michael Thomas (WR1), Tre’Quan Smith (WR2)
- Major Cuts/Losses: Emmanuel Sanders, Sheldon Rankins, Trey Hendrickson, Janoris Jenkins, Drew Brees, Jared Cook, Nick Easton, etc.
With all of these noted, one of them stands out the most current as hugely impactful for the 2021-2022 season, that is the Michael Thomas injury and complications. In this article, I will be discussing the issues that have taken place since his initial injury in 2020, as well as where this could go in the coming months.
Initial High Ankle Sprain
Michael Thomas initially had a high ankle sprain entering the 2020 season and played week 1 despite this, where he had three receptions on five targets. He would then go on to miss weeks two through eight on IR as he was trying to recover from the sprain but came back because he said he wanted to help Drew Brees get deep into the playoffs in his final season. Thomas would play weeks eight through thirteen, never having more than nine receptions in a game, and only having two games with 100+ yards during this span.
This led to Thomas being removed from the rest of the season, that being weeks 15 to the divisional round of the playoffs, as he was not capable of playing on the injury any longer. This injury pretty much derailed his season, as he was coming off a record-setting OPOY season in 2019, to which this injury prevented him from continuing into 2020.
Offseason Diagnosis/Team Issues
After the season ended, it was reported that the Saints medical staff told Michael Thomas that this ankle would require surgery to heal in the quickest manner, despite it being relatively invasive at the time seemingly. Thomas would go on to get a second opinion, who said he could potentially recover through time and rehab without any surgery. Then the interesting part of this all comes into place, in which the Saints coaching staff and medical team did not hear from MT for three months straight.
This is hugely concerning, especially to the franchise, as even if he was not injured he should still be in regular contact with the team. Then out of nowhere, MT says he is getting surgery in June, to which he does, and now he is likely going to miss at least the first quarter of the season, as he did in 2020. As of right now, eight weeks is the timetable for his return, and that is from the surgery date, not the start of the season, so he could return before the bye week for New Orleans if he really works hard.
As of right now, MT is still locked into his 5-year $100 million extensions, and unless the Saints trade him during the season, they would incur a heavy dead cap penalty for a season or two. This pretty much leaves them with four options, at least as I see it:
- MT returns before/near the bye week on schedule, plays like his 2019 self, and the Saints are able to mend relationships to the point where he can at least play out his contract.
- MT returns on schedule, still has fractured relationships with the Saints front office, and gets traded for assets during or after this season.
- MT takes his time and returns late in the season, or takes too short a time and returns early, underperforms, and is traded or cut for significantly less than expected.
- The Saints keep Thomas regardless of performance due to his contract issues, and just ride it out and hope he can heal to perform better in 2022 onwards.