Michael Thomas

New Orleans Saints
Wide Receiver #13
New Orleans Saints
Wide Receiver #13
Photo: Icon Sportswire

Michael Thomas News

Not practicing yet

Thomas (ankle) was at the team facility Wednesday but didn't participate in practice, Nick Underhill of NewOrleans.Football reports.

Analysis: His presence at voluntary practices is a sign Thomas is back on decent terms with the team, but his ankle remains a significant concern after he missed a big chunk of 2020 and all of 2021. Coach Dennis Allen acknowledged in early May that the wideout still had "a few hurdles" to clear in the rehab process, but both Allen and GM Micky Loomis said they expect Thomas to be part of the team this season. It's possible he's targeting training camp for a return to practice.

May 25, 2022 1:43 PM EST

Making progress

Coach Dennis Allen noted that the Saints feel good about where Thomas (ankle) stands in terms of his injury rehab, but acknowledged that there's "still a few hurdles" ahead for the wideout.

Analysis: With that in mind, it seems as though Thomas -- who didn't play last season -- will be limited to some degree upon his return to the field. However, in the absence of any setbacks in the coming months, the 29-year-old appears poised to reclaim his spot atop the Saints' wideout depth chart which was recently bolstered by the team's selection of Chris Olave with the No. 11 overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft.

May 6, 2022 1:03 PM EST

On track to return

GM Mickey Loomis noted Thursday that Thomas is on track to return to the mix in 2022 after not playing last season due to a left ankle injury that required surgery, John DeShazier of the team's official site reports.

Analysis: "We're expecting to have Mike back," Loomis said of the wideout, who was the NFL's Offensive Player of the Year in 2019. "His progress hopefully is going well, and the reports are that it's been going well. I know he is certainly motivated; Michael is always motivated, so that's not an issue." While the Saints expect Thomas back this coming season to provide a boost to their pass-catching corps, which wideouts the 29-year-old -- who is signed through 2024 -- will be working alongside in 2022 remains to be determined, with Tre'Quan (Smith) slated to become an unrestricted free agent, and Deonte Harris a restricted free agent.

Mar 4, 2022 8:37 AM EST

Reconciliation possible?

Thomas, who was rehabilitating his left ankle injury in New York for most of the 2021 season, has returned to New Orleans and is expected to play next year, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reports.

Analysis: It seemed almost a foregone conclusion Thomas' tenure with the Saints would be coming to a close this offseason considering the organization's significant hierarchy upheaval, a looming cap-room crisis and what had been by all accounts a rather frigid relationship between the two-time All-Pro wide receiver and the franchise since the former underwent a second surgery on his ankle in July. While it's entirely possible the Saints could still look to deal Thomas given so much uncertainty regarding the direction of the franchise post Sean Payton, Rapoport's report seemed to indicate the team would prefer to keep the soon-to-be 29-year-old around. That's a significant statement given a breakup seemed inevitable six months ago, but it's also fair to point out that plans may change depending on how the Saints operate this offseason with negative $72 million in cap room.

Feb 12, 2022 2:00 PM EST

Could require another procedure

Saints head coach Sean Payton acknowledged Wednesday that Thomas could require another procedure for his left ankle, Mike Triplett of ESPN.com reports. "I think this isn't anything he can control," Payton said when asked about the wideout's potential need for surgery, after Thomas announced earlier Wednesday via his personal Twitter account that he wouldn't play this season.

Analysis: Payton said that Thomas had been "working his tail off" to return at some point during the second half of the season after spending the first eight weeks of the campaign on the reserve/PUP list, but those hopes were dashed after the three-time Pro Bowler recently experienced what Ian Rapoport of NFL Network described as "a new and separate" injury to the same ankle. Thomas initially injured the ankle early Week 1 of last season and proceeded to miss the next six games, only to aggravate the injury coming out of Week 13. He returned for the playoffs, but he didn't look to be in top form before ultimately opting for surgery in June to repair multiple ligaments in the ankle after rest and rehab didn't resolve the matter. In light of his latest setback, the prospect of another procedure clouds the long-term outlook of Thomas, who will turn 29 in March and has yet to get integrated in the New Orleans offense during the post-Drew Brees era.

Nov 3, 2021 10:09 AM EST

Done for season

Thomas announced Wednesday via his personal Twitter account that he won't play this season after experiencing what he described as a "small setback" in his rehab from offseason left ankle surgery.

Analysis: Thomas' decision to rule himself out for 2021 comes after Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reported earlier Wednesday that the wideout suffered a "new and separate" injury to the left ankle that left him without a clear timeline to return. While Thomas didn't elaborate on the severity of his setback, it was evidently significant enough for him to rule out a return to the field in the next two months. After playing only seven games in 2020 due to the same ankle issue that later required surgery, Thomas will head into age-29 campaign in 2022 with a limited track record of playing with quarterbacks other than Drew Brees.

Nov 3, 2021 7:03 AM EST

Hits snag in recovery

Thomas recently experienced a "new and separate" injury with his surgically repaired left ankle, making it uncertain when he'll be ready to return from the reserve/PUP list, Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reports.

Analysis: Thomas has been sidelined all season after undergoing the ankle procedure in June, but he's been eligible to rejoin the Saints since Week 7 after spending the requisite six weeks on the PUP list. Over the past two weeks, the Saints haven't offered much indication that Thomas is getting closer to practicing, and Rapoport relays the wideout's timeline to return to the field remains "unpredictable" after he recently met with a foot/ankle specialist in the wake of his new injury. If and when he does play this season, Thomas will likely be catching passes from Taysom Hill, after incumbent starter Jameis Winston (knee) suffered a season-ending ACL tear Week 8.

Nov 3, 2021 6:18 AM EST

Not expected to return yet

Thomas (ankle) is still multiple weeks away from a return, Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reports.

Analysis: Thomas began the 2021 season on the PUP list after undergoing left ankle surgery, making him eligible to return as early as Week 7, but it appears as though the star wideout will require a bit more time to rest before resuming practice activities. As the Saints come off a Week 6 bye and look toward a Monday night matchup in Seattle, it appears that Marquez Callaway and Deonte Harris (hamstring) are once again in line to serve as Jameis Winston's top wideouts.

Oct 18, 2021 11:33 AM EST

Shifts back to reserve/PUP list

Thomas (illness/ankle) was removed from the reserve/COVID-19 list Saturday. He's still on the reserve/PUP list Nick Underhill of NewOrleans.Football reports.

Analysis: Thomas was placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list earlier in September after a number of Saints coaches tested positive for the virus. Given the star wideout was already expected to miss the first six weeks of the season while recovering from June ankle surgery, the designation shouldn't dramatically change his recovery time. Thomas is first eligible to return Oct. 25 against the Seahawks following the team's Week 6 bye.

Sep 25, 2021 2:16 PM EST

Shifts to reserve/COVID-19 list

The Saints transferred Thomas (ankle) from the reserve/PUP list Tuesday to the reserve/COVID-19 list, Field Yates of ESPN reports. He tested positive for the virus, according to Aaron Wilson of Sportstalk 790 Houston.

Analysis: Thomas becomes the first Saints player to go on the COVID-19 list after the Associated Press reported earlier Tuesday that six unidentified New Orleans coaching staff members and one player tested positive for the virus. Provided he doesn't experience any overly severe symptoms on the virus, Thomas' timeline for making his 2021 debut shouldn't be affected. After opening the campaign on the PUP list while recovering from June surgery on his left ankle, Thomas was already slated to miss the first six weeks of the regular season. He'll first be eligible to return Oct. 25 in Seattle following the Saints' Week 6 bye.

Sep 14, 2021 1:48 PM EST

Officially on reserve/PUP list

The Saints moved Thomas (ankle) to the reserve/PUP list Tuesday.

Analysis: As Adam Schefter of ESPN reported earlier Tuesday, Thomas landed on this reserve list, which will sideline him for at least the first six weeks of the campaign. The Saints have a bye Week 6, meaning Thomas will be eligible to return Week 7 in Seattle on Monday, Oct. 25.

Aug 31, 2021 3:52 PM EST

Likely headed for PUP list

Thomas (ankle) likely will be placed on the PUP list, Adam Schefter of ESPN reports.

Analysis: With a four-month timeline estimate after June surgery, Thomas was a strong candidate for the PUP list all along. In this case, the move will rule him out for only five games instead of six, as the Saints have an early bye (Week 6) in 2021. Assuming this move becomes official Tuesday or Wednesday, the star wideout will be ineligible for games until Week 7 at Seattle (Oct. 25).

Aug 31, 2021 9:21 AM EST

Ahead of schedule

Coach Sean Payton said Thomas (ankle) is ahead of schedule in his rehab from June surgery, Luke Johnson of The Times-Picayune reports.

Analysis: Thomas attended the Saints' preseason opener Saturday in Baltimore, the first time reporters had seen him with the team since June minicamp. It's been an interesting summer between the delayed surgery, cryptic tweets and trade rumors, but Thomas does seem to be doing well with his rehab and has at least maintained a working relationship with the Saints for the time being. He'll still miss the early part of the regular season, with most reports earlier this summer putting his timeline at around four months after surgery in the second half of June.

Aug 16, 2021 12:51 PM EST

On trading block?

The Saints could be open to trading Thomas (ankle), Larry Holder of The Athletic reports.

Analysis: Reportedly, there is tension between Thomas and the team that may stem back to Week 1 of last season when the receiver injured his ankle while the Saints were comfortably ahead of the Buccaneers halfway through the fourth quarter. Thomas then allegedly "blew off" the New Orleans medical staff this offseason before finally agreeing to undergo ankle surgery in June, which head coach Sean Payton negatively commented on in public only for Thomas to seemingly fire back on social media. While Charles Robinson of Yahoo Sports recently reported that Thomas and Payton may have met to reconcile their issues and that a trade is not coming, a divorce seems inevitable in Holder's opinion, noting the Saints' past willingness to move on from players who may be a distraction in the locker room even if they have to take a financial hit to do so.

Aug 13, 2021 2:40 PM EST

Has backing of team

Saints GM Micky Loomis says the team supported Thomas' plan to treat his ankle injury with rest rather than surgery at the beginning of the offseason, John Keim of ESPN.com reports.

Analysis: Player and team seem to have been in agreement on a decision that ended up backfiring. Thomas apparently didn't look healthy at June minicamp, and it was decided afterward that he'd finally get surgery on the ankle that's been bothering him since Week 1 of last season. Given the timing of his ankle surgery -- which reportedly comes with a recovery estimate of four months -- Thomas likely will be out through September and perhaps into October or even November. The Saints should have open competition for roles at wide receiver, with Tre'Quan Smith the only clear starter from a group that includes Deonte Harris, Marquez Callaway, Juwan Johnson, Kawaan Baker and now Chris Hogan.

Jul 29, 2021 9:10 AM EST

Officially placed on PUP list

The Saints moved Thomas (ankle) to the preseason PUP list, Field Yates of ESPN reports.

Analysis: Thomas is expected to be sidelined into September, so this move was expected to occur for training camp. Barring an acceleration of his timeline, he could sit on the list throughout camp and the preseason and could be a candidate to open the regular season on the PUP list as well. Tre'Quan Smith figures to headline the Saints' wide receiver corps in his absence, with Deonte Harris, Marquez Callaway and newly-signed Chris Hogan potentially factoring in.

Jul 26, 2021 2:12 PM EST

Unlikely to play in September

Thomas (ankle) is expected to miss at least the first month of the upcoming season and may not be back to full strength until November or December, Larry Holder of The Athletic reports.

Analysis: Numerous reports have mentioned a four-month timeline for his recovery from June ankle surgery, but injury expert Virginia Zakas told The Athletic that 24 weeks (about 5.5 months) would be ideal to reduce the odds of re-injury. Either way, Thomas appears unlikely to play in September, and he could even open the regular season on the PUP list -- which requires a six-game absence -- if the Saints aren't pleased with his rehab progress by the end of the preseason. For now, the Saints will hope to avoid that outcome, even if they also prepare for it. A signing or trade should be coming soon, considering Tre'Quan Smith is the only healthy wide receiver on the roster with more than 213 career receiving yards.

Jul 23, 2021 11:03 AM EST

Could miss start of season

ESPN.com's Mike Triplett confirms that Thomas, who underwent ankle surgery in June, could miss the start of the 2021 regular season.

Analysis: Meanwhile, based on the timing of and typical recovery period associated with the procedure to repair ligaments in Thomas' ankle, NFL Network's Ian Rapoport suggests that the Saints' star receiver "could be on the sideline for weeks" as the coming campaign opens. It remains to be seen if the team will outline a specific timetable for Thomas' return to action, but when approaching drafts and auctions fantasy managers will have to factor in the possibility that the wideout could either miss time or be hampered early on this season. With that in mind, Mike Garafolo of NFL Network relays that the Saints have been checking in on free agent wide receivers of late and are expected to work out a few in short order. Currently next up in the team's WR pecking order are Tre'Quan Smith, Deonte Harris and Marquez Callaway.

Jul 23, 2021 8:15 AM EST

Expected to miss start of season

Thomas is expected to miss the start of the season as he works his was back from ankle surgery, Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reports.

Analysis: Thomas was part of the Saints' June minicamp, which led to optimism that he'd be ready to go by the start of the year, but that optimism was apparently misplaced. The procedure, which he underwent that same month, carries a recommended recovery timeline of four months, which means Thomas may not wind up seeing the field until sometime in October.

Jul 23, 2021 7:32 AM EST

Looking good after ankle surgery

Thomas participated in June minicamp, though he continues to get scans and treatment on his surgically repaired ankle, Rod Walker of nola.com reports.

Analysis: A report in January suggested Thomas would need ankle and shoulder surgeries during the offseason, after missing nine games in 2020. Participation in June minicamp suggests he's well on his way to a Week 1 appearance, even if the Saints decide to ease him into action during training camp. The bigger question is whether Thomas will catch most of his passes from Jameis Winston or Taysom Hill this season, with the Saints hosting a job battle at QB. An offense led by Hill likely would throw fewer passes, but either way, Thomas and Alvin Kamara will be the priorities -- even more so after the team lost TE Jared Cook and WR Emmanuel Sanders in the offseason.

Jul 9, 2021 11:04 AM EST

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