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. 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.
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 Saints' official site reports. "We're expecting to have Mike back," Loomis said of Thomas, 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.
Thomas (ankle) restructured his contract Saturday to create nearly $14 million in cap space for the Saints, Field Yates of ESPN reports. The deal adds an extra two voidable years to Thomas' contract, but more importantly this almost guarantees the All-Pro wideout will play for the Saints next season. Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reported last week a reconciliation between both parties seemingly occurred after months of reported tension between player and front office. Thomas, who is still rehabbing his ankle after a second surgery in the last 12 months, is expected to be healthy in time for the new campaign.
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. 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.
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. 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.
|* indicates player did not play that week|
|WK||DATE||OPP||OPP RANK||OPP FPTS|
|2||09/18||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||12||20.53|
|8||10/30||Las Vegas Raiders||4||17.67|
|11||11/20||Los Angeles Rams||22||22.05|
|12||11/27||@San Francisco 49ers||19||21.90|
|13||12/05||@Tampa Bay Buccaneers||12||20.53|
|3 Year Avg||80||63||721||3||39||11.44||90|