Thomas (ankle) restructured his contract to create $8.7 million in cap space for the Saints, Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reports. This was inevitable considering the ever-lasting salary-cap hole the Saints continue to climb out of. Perhaps more importantly, Nick Underhill of NewOrleans.Football reports Thomas' cap hit will now exceed $24 million in each of the next three seasons, essentially locking in the star wide receiver with the team for the foreseeable future. It's also likely the Saints will have to continually revisit the contract in upcoming years similar to what the team did with quarterback Drew Brees throughout the later stages of his career.
Thomas is expected to undergo surgeries on his shoulder and left ankle this offseason, Adam Schefter of ESPN reports. Thomas has a torn deltoid in his shoulder and injured ligaments in the upper part of his ankle. The ankle issues caused him to miss nine games in 2020, and this report from Schefter suggests he might've sat out longer if he hadn't been so eager for a Super Bowl push in what was expected to be Drew Brees' final NFL season. The campaign had a disappointing finish -- both for Thomas individually and the Saints as a whole --- but there were some encouraging developments along the way, including Taysom Hill completing 71.9 percent of his passes in four starts. Thomas averaged 7.5 catches for 85.8 yards on 9.3 targets in those four games, and he was even more productive in 2019 when Teddy Bridgewater played QB for New Orleans. The soon-to-be 28-year-old wideout should continue to put up big numbers even if Brees retires, though he will face an added challenge heading into 2021, likely missing part of the offseason program or even training camp while he rehabs from multiple surgeries.
Thomas was targeted four times and did not record a reception in Sunday's season-ending 30-20 loss to the Buccaneers. In a shocking turn of events, last season's receptions leader was held without a catch for a full game as a starter for the first time in his career. Drew Brees and the Saints' coaching staff clearly wanted to focus on shorter dropbacks and quicker throws to combat Tampa Bay's aggressive blitzing defense, but that still doesn't excuse the lack of involvement Thomas received, as he is an elite route runner at all three levels. Perhaps the 27-year-old was still being hampered by the high-ankle sprain that cost him four games at the end of the regular season; whatever the case, it was a disappointing end to a rough 2020 campaign for the All-Pro wideout. Thomas was limited to seven contests during the regular season due to injuries and off-field conduct, finishing with career lows in receptions (40), yards (438) and touchdowns (zero). Unlike his fellow playmaking star, Alvin Kamara, Thomas could benefit from Drew Brees' potential retirement this offseason, as the legendary quarterback saw his arm strength and deep accuracy fall off a cliff this year. If the Saints are forced to look for a new starting quarterback in 2021, we could see a different version of Thomas who sacrifices reception volume for a big boost in yards per reception.
Thomas secured five of seven targets for 73 yards and a touchdown in the Saints' 21-9 win over the Bears on Sunday. Back in action after three games on injured reserve with a high-ankle sprain, Thomas stepped up for a big game in the postseason victory. He secured an 11-yard touchdown midway through the first quarter when he caught a short pass over the middle and pushed through defenders into the end zone. The ankle injury seems to be behind him, and he'll look to build on this strong showing in the NFC divisional round when the Saints host the Buccaneers.
The Saints activated Thomas (ankle) from injured reserve Saturday, Nick Underhill of NewOrleans.Football reports. After missing the last three games of the regular season due to a high-ankle sprain, Thomas progressed enough since his practice window opened Wednesday to be available for the Saints' playoff opener Sunday. It'll be interesting to see if he can handle his typical workload of 7.9 targets per game from the current campaign, but if he does he'll have a good chance to profit against a Bears defense that has allowed 8.3 YPT to wide receivers this season (12th worst in the NFL).
|* indicates player did not play that week|
|WK||DATE||OPP||OPP RANK||OPP FPTS|
|1||09/12||Green Bay Packers||6||19.56|
|3||09/26||@New England Patriots||10||20.63|
|4||10/03||New York Giants||9||20.38|
|5||10/10||@Washington Football Team||5||19.35|
|8||10/31||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||19||23.50|
|14||12/12||@New York Jets||18||23.13|
|15||12/19||@Tampa Bay Buccaneers||19||23.50|
Red Zone Trends
|3 Year Avg||129||105||1189||6||64||11.32||152|