The sixth-year standout underwent surgery later than the Saints wanted, causing a rift between the parties. While Thomas and Sean Payton are believed to be on better terms, the Saints will still be in line to play their first five games without their top wide receiver. Thomas must miss the first six weeks, but the Saints have a Week 6 bye. This could allow Thomas to play in New Orleans’ final 12 games.
New Orleans is transitioning to a new quarterback for the first time in 15 years, moving from Drew Brees to Jameis Winston. After the team rostered Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders last year, Winston will not have the same weapons Brees did. That said, Thomas missed much of the 2020 slate due to injuries and a one-game suspension. His stock has dipped a bit after posting back-to-back first-team All-Pro seasons and setting the NFL’s single-season reception record (149) in 2019.
In addition to Thomas’ absence, the Saints were without Tre’Quan Smith for a chunk of training camp. While Marquez Callaway has played well and stands to be a key target for Winston, the Sanders release and Thomas’ surgery decision will leave the Saints more vulnerable at wideout than they have been going into a season in many years.
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