Michael Thomas (WR)

Trade Rumors: Thomas, Njoku, Watt, Jets

Saints head coach Sean Payton has said his team has no interest in trading star receiver Michael Thomas, though Thomas’ camp was recently said to be looking for potential deals. There has been no movement towards a Thomas trade, and whether that’s because New Orleans has no interest in dealing him or because the club has not received an offer it likes, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com says Thomas will stay put.

With the trade deadline two days away, let’s round up a few more rumors on players who could be on the move:

  • The Browns don’t want to trade tight end David Njoku, but Njoku has renewed his request to be dealt, and Rapoport says Cleveland has been fielding calls on the former first-rounder. It may take at least a fourth-round pick to get a deal done, but with Austin Hooper set to return and with the emergence of rookie Harrison Bryant, the Browns may elect to move Njoku.
  • Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports writes that the Texans are at the center of the trade market, with one executive saying Houston could move as many as five players if it wants to. Rapoport expects the Packersinterest in Will Fuller — which dates back to the summer — to ramp up, but it will likely take a high pick to convince the Texans to move Fuller. Fellow WR Kenny Stills has also drawn some interest, though rival clubs see the contracts for Stills and Randall Cobb as prohibitive. DE J.J. Watt may be receptive to a trade, but considering his contract and age, other teams probably don’t value him like the Texans do.
  • The Jets have received calls on LB Avery Williamson, OTs George Fant and Chuma Edoga, and CB Quincy Wilson, per Albert Breer of SI.com. Rich Cimini of ESPN.com says the Steelers — who recently lost Devin Bush for the season — could be in the market for Williamson, and Edoga also seems like a good bet to be dealt since he does not look like a fit with the current regime.
  • La Canfora says teams have also called the Jets about WR Breshad Perriman and TE Chris Herndon, though Breer notes that safety Marcus Maye has not drawn much interest.
  • Rapoport names Dolphins RB Jordan Howard and Seahawks TE Jacob Hollister as two other players who could be moved. And though the Bengals are shopping disgruntled wideout John Ross, Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com says there hasn’t been interest in Ross (Twitter link).

Saints To Place Emmanuel Sanders On Reserve/COVID-19 List

Nov. 1: Although Sanders will miss the Saints’ game against the Bears today, he is recovering and is expected to rejoin his club for its critical divisional matchup with the Bucs on November 8 (Twitter link via Schefter).

Oct. 23: The Saints’ wide receiver issues have continued into Week 7. They are placing Emmanuel Sanders on their reserve/COVID-19 list, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets.

This will sideline Sanders for New Orleans’ Week 7 game against Carolina. With Michael Thomas encountering a hamstring issue this week, the Saints will be without their top two wideouts. They declared Thomas out with the hamstring malady. This will be his fifth straight absence.

Players who land on the reserve/COVID-19 list must isolate for at least five days. This will put New Orleans in an unusual position. Coming into this season, Thomas had missed just one game since arriving in 2016. His latest issue will result in the Saints’ receiving corps being unusually shorthanded.

The Saints gave Sanders a two-year, $16MM deal to fill their years-long need for a proven No. 2 wide receiver. Tre’Quan Smith will now slide up to the No. 1 spot.

Thomas practiced in a limited capacity Wednesday but did not participate Thursday or Friday. He missed Weeks 2-4 because of an ankle injury and was down in Week 5 because of a team-imposed suspension. Sanders helped fill Thomas’ role, despite a slow start. He has 18 receptions for 215 yards in the past two games.

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No Trade Offers For Saints’ Michael Thomas?

Depending on who you ask, the Saints might be willing to trade Michael Thomas before the deadline. The wide receiver’s camp is working to find potential deals but, so far, the Saints have yet to receive a concrete offer for the superstar, according to PFT’s Mike Florio.

[RELATED: Saints Deny Thomas Trade Talk]

Thomas’ talent is undeniable, but his contract stands as a major hurdle. A Thomas trade would lead to a $20MM cap charge in 2021, a hit that would be compounded by Drew Brees‘ potential $22.65MM hit. If Thomas gets traded and Brees retires, the Saints would be left with $42.65MM in dead money for two players that are not on the roster.

Thomas inked a massive five-year, $100MM extension in July of 2019 that made him the highest-paid receiver of all time. Lately, he’s been at odds with the team, including a Week 5 benching for an altercation with teammate Chauncey Gardner-Johnson during practice. He’s also been limited due to injuries, including a high ankle sprain and a hamstring issue.

All in all, Thomas has appeared in just one game for New Orleans this year, giving him a stat line of three catches for 17 yards. There’s still reason to believe that Thomas can duplicate last year’s production, though he won’t match the stat line. In 2019, Thomas finished with a single-season-record of 149 receptions to go along 1,725 receiving yards and nine touchdowns.

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Extra Points: Newton, Gase, Thomas

The Patriots took an ugly loss Sunday as they got demolished 33-6 by the visiting 49ers. Things got so bad that Jarrett Stidham came in and replaced Cam Newton somewhat early in the fourth quarter and played the rest of the game. Newton had just 98 yards and three interceptions before exiting, but he isn’t in any danger of losing his starting job at the moment. Head coach Bill Belichick said after the game that Newton was “absolutely” still his starter.

He added that he just wanted to get the youngster Stidham some more game experience by throwing him out there in a contest that was already decided. Newton now has five interceptions and no passing touchdowns over his past two games since returning from catching COVID-19. It’s unclear whether the virus messed with his conditioning or if anything else is ailing him, but his play has dropped off dramatically from his hot start as a member of the Patriots. Whatever the case, it doesn’t sound like Belichick is planning on making a switch under center anytime soon.

Here’s more from around the league:

  • Adam Gase first conceded publicly that he was mulling giving up play-calling duties a couple of weeks ago, and he finally made the plunge on Sunday. Gase handed off the responsibilities to offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains for their Week 7 game against the Bills, Brian Costello of the New York Post reports. New York got off to a hot start and they actually led Buffalo at halftime, before completely collapsing and only gaining four total yards in the second half. The last 30 minutes may have changed Gase’s mind, and he said after the game that play-calling will be a week to week decision. He also insisted the decision to give it up was his and his alone.
  • Major waves were made last week when we heard that the Saints could potentially be open to trading Michael Thomas in the wake of his antics that got him suspended for one game for fighting a teammate in practice, but it doesn’t sound like New Orleans’ leadership is seriously considering the idea. Head coach Sean Payton immediately responded to a tweet about the report, mocking the idea that actual ‘insiders’ said any such thing (link via Katherine Terrell of the Athletic). While Thomas probably won’t be dealt he is still hurt, and now Adam Schefter of ESPN.com reports that there’s a good chance Thomas isn’t ready for Week 8 against the Bears due to his hamstring injury. Thomas tweaked his hamstring while working his way back from the high ankle sprain he suffered back in Week 1. With Emmanuel Sanders on the COVID-19 list, the Saints could be without each of their top two wideouts still when they go up against a tough Chicago defense next week.
  • After rookie Sam Sloman has looked quite shaky to start the year, the Rams went out and signed kicker Kai Forbath earlier this week. But since Forbath wasn’t able to enter the facility until today due to COVID-19 protocols, he won’t be the kicker for their Monday Night Football game against the Bears. That means Sloman will have at least one more chance to prove he deserves the job. Under the bright lights of a nationally televised game with his competition breathing down his neck, the pressure will certainly be on.

Saints “Could Be Willing To Move” WR Michael Thomas

Could an unexpected name be on the move before the November 3rd trade deadline? Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com writes that the Saints “could be willing to move” wideout Michael Thomas. Florio notes that the feeling may also be shared by Thomas, who “could be interested in moving.”

For starters, there are some massive financial hurdles to consider from New Orleans’ side. As Florio details, a Thomas trade would lead to a $20MM cap charge in 2021, and couple that without a potential Drew Brees retirement/$22.65MM charge, the Saints could be eyeing $42.65MM in cap charges for two players who aren’t on their team. Thomas inked a massive five-year, $100MM extension in July of 2019 that made him the highest-paid receiver of all time. The contract was slightly restructured back in March.

Of course, those difficulties would be reflected in the hypothetical trade haul the Saints receive; as Florio notes, those financial complications don’t make a trade impossible. After all, the Saints would only accept an offer they couldn’t refuse for the star receiver, and the impending picks in a trade would somewhat make up for the pricey cap charges.

The fact that the Saints would even listen to offers is a bit telling, especially since Thomas appears to be on thin ice in New Orleans. He was benched in Week 5 (and fined a game check) after punching Chauncey Gardner-Johnson during a fight at practice. Thomas has also been limited to only one game after suffering a high ankle sprain, and a new hamstring injury will sideline him for this weekend’s game against the Panthers.

Of course, few suitors would put too much stock into his current production (three receptions, 17 yards). Instead, they’ll look at his incredible 2019 campaign where he finished with a single-season-record 149 receptions to go along 1725 receiving yards and nine touchdowns.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Saints Sitting Michael Thomas In Week 5 After Altercation With Teammate

This isn’t what the Saints needed ahead of their pivotal Monday Night Football date with the Chargers. Star receiver Michael Thomas won’t be playing, and it’s not because of his ankle injury.

Thomas had an altercation with a teammate at practice this weekend and the Saints are sitting him as discipline, sources told Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Thomas punched safety Chauncey Gardner-Johnson during a fight, sources told Tom Pelissero of NFL Network (Twitter link). Thomas apparently got into the altercation on Friday and was told to leave practice, according to a tweet from Josina Anderson of ESPN. Thomas then met with head coach Sean Payton on Sunday, where he was fined for conduct detrimental to the team and told he wouldn’t be playing Monday.

Anderson added that Thomas is expected to rejoin the team sometime next week. It’s been a frustrating campaign for the superstar, as he suffered a high ankle sprain in New Orleans’ Week 1 win over the Buccaneers. Drew Brees hasn’t looked his sharpest this season as the team has started 2-2, and this certainly isn’t what the offense needed to get back on track.

The Saints are favorites of about a touchdown against Los Angeles, so maybe they feel confident they can get by them even without their top receiver. Thomas had practiced this week and while it wasn’t certain, it was looking like he was set to make his return prior to these developments. Tre’Quan Smith and Emmanuel Sanders will continue holding down the fort. Hopefully for Saints fans this isn’t a sign of any further locker room issues.

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Saints’ Michael Thomas Out Vs. Lions

Wide receiver Michael Thomas has been ruled out for Sunday’s game against the Lions, per a club announcement. Thomas has been chomping at the bit to return, but the Saints are taking the cautious approach to protect his long-term availability. 

Doctors told Thomas that he’d be out for several weeks after suffering a high-ankle sprain in mid-September, but he pushed back when the Saints considered placing him on injured reserve, which would have ruled him out for a minimum of three weeks. The 27-year-old has missed only one game since entering the league in 2016.

Drew Brees has struggled thus far in 2020, and Thomas’ return would go a long way towards firing up the offense. Over the last five years, Thomas has racked up 473 catches for 5,529 yards and 32 touchdowns, cementing himself as one of the league’s very best offensive weapons. Last year, he led the NFL with 149 catches and 1,725 yards while matching his previous career-high of nine scores.

Unfortunately for the Saints, Thomas won’t be the only starter out of action this weekend. Cornerbacks Marshon Lattimore and Janoris Jenkins, tight end Jared Cook, defensive end Marcus Davenport, and guard Andrus Peat have also been officially ruled out for Sunday.

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Injury Notes: Baker, Thomas, Hunter

Cardinals star safety Budda Baker is playing through a torn UCL in his thumb, as Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reports. Baker plans to play in Arizona’s game against the Lions this afternoon and then undergo surgery this week. Although the same injury sidelined Saints QB Drew Brees for six weeks last season, Baker obviously does not have to throw the football and believes he will miss only the Cardinals’ Week 4 contest against the Panthers before returning to the field to take on the Jets in Week 5.

Now for more injury-related news regarding a few of the league’s high-profile players:

  • There has been a great deal of talk about Brees’ struggles early this season, but the Saints‘ signal-caller may soon have his top target back. Wide receiver Michael Thomas has looked good in workouts and is eyeing a Week 4 return, per Adam Schefter of ESPN.com.
  • The Vikings need a boost on both sides of the ball, and they are clearly missing DE Danielle Hunter. As Tom Pelissero of the NFL Network tweets, Hunter, who is dealing with a herniated disc in his neck, is eligible to come off IR next week but is unlikely to be ready to return by then. However, he is regaining strength, and the team remains optimistic that he will be back this season.
  • Titans WR A.J. Brown is dealing with a bone bruise in his knee, and the injury is a significant one, according to Schefter (via Twitter). Brown’s knee has not responded as well to treatment as the team had hoped, and he might end up missing more than just this afternoon’s game against Minnesota.
  • More difficult news for Tennessee. Titans CB Adoree’ Jackson is eligible to come off IR this week, but Terry McCormick of TitansInsider.com hears that Jackson may not be sufficiently recovered from his knee injury for that to happen (Twitter link). It’s unclear how much additional time the 2017 first-rounder will miss.
  • 49ers WR Deebo Samuel is likely to return to practice this week, as Rapoport notes (via Twitter). Samuel will be eased into action, and while he probably won’t play in Week 4, the Niners’ top wideout is expected back for the team’s Week 5 bout with the Dolphins.

Saints Rule Out Michael Thomas For Week 2

SEPTEMBER 19: The Saints will be cautious with their All-Pro wide receiver. They have ruled Thomas out of their Week 2 game against the Raiders. Thomas did not practice this week, and his status for Week 3 should be considered in doubt based on the information that has surfaced.

SEPTEMBER 18: Doctors told Michael Thomas that he’d miss several weeks after suffering a high ankle sprain. However, the Saints wide receiver “felt fantastic” at Thursday’s practice and there’s a “little glimmer of hope” he can play on Monday night against the Raiders, a source tells ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter (on Twitter).

It’s still unlikely that Thomas will suit up in Las Vegas, but it’s promising news nonetheless. Saints officials, who wanted to place Thomas on IR to sideline him for a minimum of three weeks, were pleasantly surprised by his early progress.

The 27-year-old has missed only one game since entering the league in 2016. Over the last five years, he’s racked up 473 catches for 5,529 yards and 32 touchdowns, cementing himself as one of the league’s very best offensive weapons. Last year, he led the NFL with 149 catches and 1,725 yards while matching his previous career-high of nine scores.

The Saints topped the Bucs 34-23 in the season opener, despite Thomas registering just three catches for 17 yards. Of course, in the long run, Thomas would be sorely missed. If Thomas winds up on IR, he’ll miss the next three games against the Raiders, Packers, and Lions at the minimum.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Saints’ Michael Thomas To Miss Time

The Saints will be without Michael Thomas for a while. The star wide receiver will be sidelined for several weeks with a high-ankle sprain, according to NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero (Twitter link). 

[RELATED: Saints Sign LB Demario Davis To Three-Year Extension]

The Saints want to put Thomas on injured reserve, but he’s pushing back in hopes that he can return inside of three weeks. Based on the diagnosis, Pelissero senses that an extra-speedy recovery is unlikely. The 27-year-old has missed only game as a pro and zero since 2017.

Needless to say, losing Thomas for a month or more would be devastating for the Saints. Thomas is fresh off of a record-shattering 149-catch season in which he finished with 1,725 yards and nine touchdowns. It was an unbelievable encore, even by Thomas’ standards. In the previous season, Thomas set Saints records with 125 catches and 1,405 yards while adding nine TDs. He was wildly efficient, too – Thomas’ catch rate of 84.5% was the highest of any NFL receiver since at least 2001.

But, on the flipside, the Saints did manage to down the Buccaneers on Sunday despite an uncharacteristically quiet game from Thomas. For now, Drew Brees will look to newcomer Emmanuel Sanders for increased support and likely send additional targets towards running back Alvin Kamara and tight end Jared Cook.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.