Wide receiver Michael Thomas and the New Orleans Saints are at odds, and it all has to do with his injury. There’s no reason why Thomas shouldn’t be starting the season healthy for the Saints. Heck, the injury occurred in Week 1 of last season! So, what went wrong with the All-Pro receiver’s ankle, and how long is he out for?
How long is Michael Thomas out?
Thomas is out until at least Week 7. The Saints placed him on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list to begin the season. Since Thomas didn’t participate in training camp, he was eligible to stay on the regular-season PUP list.
That means Thomas can’t practice or play with the team until after Week 6. Luckily for the Saints, the wide receiver only has to miss five games. The team has a bye in Week 6, allowing Thomas to theoretically play in the final 12 contests.
However, if we know anything about this injury, it’s that we have no clue what the future might hold.
Michael Thomas’ injury timeline from the 2020 season
Week 1 (9/13/2020): Thomas initially injured his ankle. He suffers a torn deltoid while also injuring other ligaments. He needs surgery to heal fully, but he doesn’t want to miss out on helping quarterback Drew Brees win another Super Bowl before he retires. Thomas knows he has to miss games but would rather play at far less than 100% than get surgery and miss Brees’ last season.
Week 5: Thomas is back practicing and looking to possibly play against the Los Angeles Chargers on Monday Night Football. However, he punches Chauncey Gardner-Johnson during practice, and the Saints suspend and fine their star receiver for the game.
Thus begins the rift between Thomas and the franchise that’d continue to the present.
Week 8 (11/8/2020): Thomas returns to action after the bye week and matches up against the eventual Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He catches 5 passes on 6 targets for 51 yards. He would play for the next six weeks before finishing the regular season on injured reserve (IR).
Wild Card Weekend (01/10/2021): Thomas returns from IR to catch 5 passes for 73 yards and a touchdown against the Chicago Bears. He did not record a catch in the Saints’ next game, where they’d lose to the Buccaneers.
Season’s end: The Saints ask Thomas to undergo surgery on his ailing ankle. Yet, the begrudged wide receiver seeks a second opinion. He opts to forgo surgery and rehab the injury instead.
Injury Timeline: Offseason to now
March: Thomas sits down with the team to discuss options. He must hit physical benchmarks to continue his non-surgical rehab.
June: It’s summer, and Thomas returns to the team still with injury. The team lost communication with the star receiver after their March meeting. Now, it was clear Thomas needed surgery — a procedure that could take four months to recover from.
August 27: Thomas sues the landlord of the $60,000/month rental property he stayed at during his rehabilitation hiatus. Maybe the non-surgical option didn’t work out because the vibes were off. Nonetheless, the receiver claims the multiple malfunctions in the house and surprise pop-ins from the landlord’s representative negatively affected his career. He’s seeking $1 million in damages.
Saints’ weapons are unproven outside of Thomas
The only team with a less appetizing group of receivers houses itself in Detroit, Michigan. Marquez Callaway has received the most love of the group during the offseason. Even so, he only has 21 career receptions. Still, with Jameis Winston slinging the ball for the Saints, Callaway could be that downfield threat this offense has lacked.
Tre’Quan Smith is the most accomplished Saints receiver that is healthy enough to play. Smith has caught 80 passes in his three NFL seasons in New Orleans. The former UCF WR becomes the Saints’ most accomplished pass catcher by default.
Technically, Chris Hogan is their most accomplished wideout, but the 34-year-old WR was most recently playing for the Whipsnakes of the Premier Lacrosse League. However, it’s nice to have a veteran around this group of young playmakers.