Michael Thomas (WR)

Michael Thomas Expected To Start Season On Saints’ PUP List

Michael Thomas‘ foot injury will sideline him for nearly eight more weeks. The Saints are expected to stash their All-Pro wide receiver on the reserve/PUP list, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets.

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.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Latest On Saints WR Michael Thomas

It sounds like tensions between Michael Thomas and the Saints are continuing to cool off. Following a meeting between the wideout and coach Sean Payton earlier this week, Thomas is expected to be in attendance for tonight’s preseason opener, reports Jeff Duncan of NOLA.com.

The writer notes that “Thomas’ attendance came at the request of Payton,” and Duncan wouldn’t be surprised if the two are seen standing together “in a show of solidarity.” Of course, while both sides could put on a fake smile for the press, this seems to be a positive development as the organization looks to overcome their recent fallout.

To review: Thomas is expected to miss a chunk of the Saints’ 2021 campaign due to a late-offseason ankle surgery, and Payton revealed that he would have preferred the receiver underwent the procedure earlier in the offseason in order to be ready for the upcoming campaign. Thomas later fired back at his coach’s comments, leading to the face-to-face meeting earlier this week. According to Duncan, the two sides had a “productive talk,” and everyone left the meeting “feeling positive about the interaction.”

From the organization’s perspective, it always made more sense to resolve the issues vs. trading Thomas elsewhere. For starters, the receiver’s trade value has plummeted; since he shattered the NFL single-season reception record, with 149 in 2019, the Ohio State product has run into injury issues on multiple fronts and was suspended for a game for fighting with teammate Chauncey Gardner-Johnson. The past year has affected Thomas’ standing around the league, with two GMs telling Yahoo’s Charles Robinson that the receiver’s trade value has fallen to the point no first-round pick could be attached in a deal without protections.

Of course, Thomas is also out for a while, so no trade would be imminent, regardless. Further, if Thomas does make a full recovery, it makes sense for the Saints to keep him as they look to kick off the post-Drew Brees era with either Jameis Winston or Taysom Hill.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Saints, Michael Thomas Working To Resolve Issues

Continuing his downward trajectory from last season, Michael Thomas is expected to miss a chunk of the Saints’ 2021 campaign due to a late-offseason ankle surgery. The All-Pro wide receiver then sent out a tweet seemingly aimed at the Saints’ reaction to his medical decision, adding smoke to this simmering situation.

But cooler heads may prevail here. Thomas and Sean Payton met recently to discuss comments each made about this situation, according to Yahoo.com’s Charles Robinson. Prior to Thomas’ tweet, Payton said he would have preferred his top wideout undergo surgery earlier this year in order to be ready for the season. The issue of Thomas ignoring Saints calls this offseason surely came up as well.

Both parties do not want this situation to escalate further, Robinson adds. This would be good news for the Saints, who are moving from one of the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history to a far less certain option under center. A Thomas trade would carry a significant dead-money charge as well.

Although other teams have moved past dead-money bloodbaths to separate from players — as in the cases of the Steelers (Antonio Brown), Rams (Jared Goff) and Eagles (Carson Wentz) — the Saints have depended on Thomas as their top target for years. They moved on from Emmanuel Sanders this offseason and do not have much behind Thomas in the way of reliable weaponry. Separating from the two-time All-Pro would leave Jameis Winston and/or Taysom Hill at an extreme disadvantage upon taking over for Drew Brees.

Thomas’ trade value has plummeted as well. Since he shattered the NFL single-season reception record, with 149 in 2019, the Ohio State product has run into injury issues on multiple fronts and was suspended for a game for fighting with teammate Chauncey Gardner-Johnson. The past year has affected Thomas’ standing around the league, with two GMs expressing to Robinson a belief the receiver’s trade value has fallen to the point no first-round pick could be attached in a deal without protections. Another GM, however, added that a healthy Thomas would bring back a package of a first-round pick and change, which would be similar to the haul Stefon Diggs fetched last year. Since Thomas is not currently healthy, this is a moot point.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Latest On Saints, Michael Thomas

Aug. 10: Unsurprisingly, the relationship between Thomas and the team is not in a good place, as Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reports (video link). Rapoport adds that a trade could be an option at some point, but given Thomas’ health issues, such a deal wouldn’t be consummated for a while. The two-time First Team All-Pro is likely to start the season on the PUP list, so he could not be dealt until right around the trade deadline.

And, if the Saints were to trade him, the team would be saddled with an $8MM dead money hit this year and a $22MM dead money hit in 2022. For a team with well-documented cap issues already, that would be a tough pill to swallow, especially since New Orleans would be selling low.

Aug. 7: Saints star Michael Thomas ignored check-in calls from team coaches and trainers throughout the offseason, according to sources who spoke with Jeff Duncan of Nola.com. Thomas ignored the club’s repeated pleas to have surgery on his injured ankle. Instead, he held off until June, which means that he’ll be sidelined to start the season.

[RELATED: Saints Sign LB Kwon Alexander]

Thomas got a second opinion on his injury and was told that he could avoid going under the knife. The Saints supported his decision but also asked for regular updates. Thomas then went three months without talking to team officials.

The Saints have since added veteran Chris Hogan and moved Ty Montgomery back to wide receiver. Those moves may help with depth, but neither player can realistically replicate Thomas’ production.

It’s disappointing,” head coach Sean Payton said recently. “We would have liked (the surgery) to have happened earlier rather than later. And quite honestly, it should have.”

In 2019, Thomas finished with a single-season-record of 149 receptions to go along 1,725 receiving yards and nine touchdowns. Last year was a different story. Between his one-game suspension and hamstring trouble, Thomas finished out with just 40 catches for 438 yards in seven games. On the plus side, he went on to notch five grabs for 73 yards and one score in the Saints’ playoff win over the Bears.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Minor NFL Transactions: 7/26/21

We’ll keep track of today’s minor moves here.

Arizona Cardinals

Atlanta Falcons

Cincinnati Bengals

  • Signed: WR Reece Horn

Dallas Cowboys

Denver Broncos

Houston Texans

Indianapolis Colts

  • Placed on IR: DT Rob Windsor (out for year)

Kansas City Chiefs

Las Vegas Raiders

Los Angeles Rams

Miami Dolphins

  • Signed: TE Carson Meier
  • Cut with injury settlement: TE Jibri Blount

Minnesota Vikings

New Orleans Saints

San Francisco 49ers

Seattle Seahawks

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

  • Signed: DB Chris Cooper

Tennessee Titans

Saints’ Michael Thomas To Miss Time

Michael Thomas is expected to miss the start of the Saints’ 2021 season (Twitter link via NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport). The wide receiver underwent ankle surgery in June and doctors say he’ll need about four months to fully recover. 

Thomas’ ligament tear cost him much of 2020. Unfortunately, it’ll also sideline him for a chunk of the early fall. This marks yet another roadblock for the Saints star.

Entering 2020, Thomas had missed just two contests in his pro career. Then came the high ankle sprain in Week 1. He was limited to just seven games and repeatedly clashed Saints brass, leading to trade speculation before the fall deadline.

To recap: The Saints handed Thomas a one-game suspension for striking a teammate. Then, he missed time with a hamstring injury. All in all, Thomas finished out the regular season with just 40 catches for 438 yards. He did manage to catch five passes for 73 yards and one score in the Saints’ playoff win over the Bears, however.

The acrimony has even led to speculation that the Saints would release him, even though terminating his five-year, $100MM deal would have left the team with an absurd dead money hit. Instead, the Saints are sticking with Thomas, who agreed to a cap-friendly restructure earlier this year. Now, they’ll keep their fingers crossed as the 2021 season draws near. They’ll also do their homework on the free agent market — Mike Garafolo of NFL.com (on Twitter) hears the Saints will audition WRs in the coming days.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Saints Restructure Michael Thomas’ Contract

Michael Thomas, in all likelihood, is staying put. The star wide receiver has agreed to a restructure that will save the Saints $8.7MM in cap space (Twitter link via NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport). 

The Saints have been restructuring players left and right as they work to get under the ~$182MM salary cap. In recent days, safety Malcolm Jenkins, defensive end Cam Jordan, linebacker Demario Davis, and guard Andrus Peat have done their part by agreeing to similar arrangements. Others, like cornerback Janoris Jenkins and wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders, were released outright. It’s not clear if those vets were approached about potential pay cuts first.

Entering 2020, Thomas had missed just two contests in his pro career. Then, Thomas suffered a high ankle sprain in Week 1. He was limited to just seven games in 2020. He repeatedly clashed Saints brass, leading to trade speculation before the fall deadline.

To recap: The Saints handed Thomas a one-game suspension for striking a teammate. Then, he missed time with a hamstring injury. All in all, Thomas finished out the regular season with just 40 catches for 438 yards. He did manage to catch five passes for 73 yards and one score in the Saints’ playoff win over the Bears, however.

The Saints would have to be especially miserable with Thomas in order to cut ties. His massive five-year, $100MM extension from 2019 means that a divorce would be mighty expensive. Instead, they’ll try to mend fences, because Thomas is one of the game’s most dangerous threats when he’s healthy.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Saints’ Michael Thomas To Have Ankle Surgery

Michael Thomas is expected to undergo multiple ankle surgeries, as Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets. The wide receiver played through the pain down the stretch, hoping to help Drew Brees capture another ring.

Thomas suffered a high ankle sprain in Week 1 and was limited to just seven games in 2020. Later on, the Saints handed Thomas a one-game suspension for striking a teammate. Then, he missed time with a hamstring injury. This year was a bit of a mess for Thomas, who finished out the regular season with just 40 catches for 438 yards. He did manage to catch five passes for 73 yards and one score in the Saints’ playoff win over the Bears, however.

Entering 2020, Thomas had missed just two contests in his pro career. He was also in much better standing with the Saints, who reportedly considered trading him before the fall deadline.

Thomas inked a massive five-year, $100MM extension with the Saints in July of 2019. At the time of signing, that deal made him the highest-paid receiver in league history. At this point, parting ways with Thomas would leave the Saints with a major dead cap charge — they can ill afford that, given the dead money that would come with a Brees retirement.

Assuming Thomas comes back at 100% health, the Saints’ best bet would be to stay the course with him. Besides, Thomas remains one of the league’s most dangerous offensive weapons.

Michael Thomas, Alvin Kamara To Return

Drew Brees will have his top weapons back. The Saints activated both Alvin Kamara and Michael Thomas on Saturday.

Thomas missed the Saints final three regular-season games, going on IR before Week 15 because of a troublesome ankle injury. Kamara is back after contracting COVID-19 last week. The All-Pro running back will end up missing just one game.

The Saints shut down Thomas in hopes he could recover from an injury that has bothered him for months. Thomas suffered a high ankle sprain in Week 1, costing him early-season time. That began a complicated season for the perennial Pro Bowler. The Saints handed Thomas a one-game suspension for striking a teammate and then saw him run into a hamstring injury in practice. Altogether, the fifth-year standout missed nine games this season.

Entering 2020, Thomas had missed just two contests. He finished the regular season with with just 40 catches for 438 yards and no touchdowns but will have a chance to end the season on a more positive note.

Kamara contracted the coronavirus shortly after his record-tying Christmas Day performance. Despite not playing in Week 17, the fourth-year running back finished the season with a league-high 21 touchdowns — six of which coming against the Vikings in Kamara’s most recent outing.

New Orleans has been without key cogs throughout the season, losing Brees and Emmanuel Sanders at points as well. Ahead of what could be Brees’ final postseason run, the Saints will have their top guns in uniform.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Saints Place WR Michael Thomas On IR

Michael Thomas is done for the regular season, but it sounds like he could be back in time for the playoffs. ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports (via Twitter) that the Saints are placing their star wideout on injured reserve, noting that the Saints “expect him close to 100% for the start of the postseason.

Thomas has been dealing with an ankle injury since the start of the season. The high ankle sprain (along with a coinciding suspension for punching a teammate) sidelined him until Week 9.

Despite only playing alongside Drew Brees in two of the six games upon his return, Thomas has still hauled in 37 receptions for 421 yards over that span. He’s also been held without a touchdown this season. This has certainly been a change for one of the NFL’s most consistent players over the past few years. The former second-round pick had only missed two games coming into this season and entered 2020 coming off a record 149-reception 2019 slate.

The Saints were also able to establish an eight-game win streak during Thomas’ absence. And while they are home underdogs to the Chiefs in Week 15, the team will be favored to beat the Vikings and Panthers without its All-Pro wideout. New Orleans won two games without Thomas or Emmanuel Sanders earlier this season. Sanders, however, is healthy now. The free agent acquisition and Tre’Quan Smith will be Brees’ top available wideouts for the regular season’s remainder.

That said, the Saints have won one road playoff game in franchise history. Thomas’ absence will make it more difficult for New Orleans to earn the NFC’s lone bye, potentially forcing the Saints to play on the road in the conference title game — should they advance that far in the playoffs.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.