New Orleans Saints wide receiver Michael Thomas was one of the best players in the NFL from 2016-’19. After three consecutive injury-plagued seasons, Thomas’ availability for the 2023 season remains uncertain.
The Saints re-signed Thomas to a one-year contract this offseason, keeping him from testing the open market. A first-team All-Pro selection in consecutive seasons (2018-’19), Thomas seemed to be emerging as a franchise great early in his NFL career.
A 47th pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, Thomas racked up 470 receptions for 5,515 receiving yards and averaged 11.7 yards per catch over his first four seasons. After becoming one of the highest-paid NFL players and setting the single-season record for receptions (149), things have spiraled downward for the former NFL star.
- Michael Thomas stats (2020-’22): 56 receptions, 609 receiving yards, 10.9 yards per catch
Thomas missed significant time in 2020 with a high-ankle sprain returning late in the year only to aggravate the injury. He later underwent ankle surgery and then suffered a setback in November 2021, missing the entire season.
While he returned to the field in 2022, Thomas suffered a toe injury in Week 3 against the Carolina Panthers. The Pro Bowl receiver was placed on injured reserve and never returned to the practice field.
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After playing 10 combined games over the last three years, Saints’ head coach Dennis Allen told reporters that Thomas is still recovery from the toe injury. Unfortunately for New Orleans, there are still no certainties regarding when he’ll return to the field.
“I don’t want to get into specifics on that, but yet, he’s making progress in the recovery. He’s not 100 percent, and we’re going to be cautious with it and take our time. We don’t want to put him out there until he’s 100 percent.New Orleans Saints coach Dennis Allen on Michael Thomas’ injury (H/T Saints.com)
The injuries are a big part of the reason why the Saints nearly parted with Thomas this offseason. New Orleans also selected wide receiver Chris Olave with the 11th pick in the 2022 NFL Draft and he is expected to be the go-to target for quarterback Derek Carr in 2023.
- Michael Thomas contract: $14.253 million cap hit (2023)
As for Thomas, the team is just hopeful he returns to the field as soon as possible next season. Considering his track record of injury setbacks, the Saints clearly won’t rush him back into action until there is a reasonable belief he can’t aggravate the toe injury.
Thomas’ injury recovery and a potential looming suspension for Alvin Kamara are now the two remaining questions involving this offense with the quarterback position finally stabilized for the first time in several years.