New Orleans Saints star Michael Thomas (ankle surgery) to miss start of 2021 NFL season

New Orleans Saints wide receiver Michael Thomas will miss the start of the 2021 NFL season after undoing surgery to repair damaged ligaments in his ankle.

Thomas went through an injury-riddled 2020 season, appearing in only seven games. The 6-foot-3 wide receiver missed time with an ankle injury and later a hamstring strain. He also served a one-game suspension for punching teammate Chauncey Gardner-Johnson at practice.

According to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, Thomas underwent ankle surgery in June to repair the damage to the ankle limits that he initially suffered in September. New Orleans hoped a full offseason would give him enough time to heal, but there were still issues at minicamp.

There is no projected return date for Thomas, but it’s recommended that he spend four months recovering. At the earliest, he would likely return in October.

  • Michael Thomas stats (2020 season): 40 receptions, 438 receiving yards and zero touchdowns

The Saints signed Thomas to a five-year, $100 million extension before the 2019 season. It ended trade speculation and made him one of the highest-paid wide receivers in the NFL.

Thomas was named NFL Offensive Player of the Year that season, setting the NFL’s single-season receptions record (149) and leading the league in receiving yards (1,725). With Drew Brees retired and Jameis Winston expected to start this fall, the Saints hoped to make Thomas more of a vertical threat in 2021.

  • Michael Thomas stats (2016-’19): 470 receptions, 5,512 receiving yards and 32 touchdowns in 63 games

A three-time Pro Bowl selection, Thomas carries a $10.1 million cap hit this season. The 28-year-old would be owed a $15.35 million base salary and $4 million bonus in 2022 if he is still on the roster.