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New Orleans Saints wide receiver Michael Thomas was once widely considered one of the best in the game. He set an NFL record (that has since been broken) with 149 catches back in 2019, his second straight year leading the league in receptions. But injuries robbed him of the next few years of his career, and he didn't really get back to full health until this past season.

Unfortunately, that stretch of injuries didn't allow him to make it all the way through the year. Thomas suffered a knee injury during the Saints' Week 10 loss to the Vikings, taking a big hit from cornerback Akayleb Evans on a play where he had to reach far outside his frame for a ball thrown quite a bit too high. Were it not for that inaccurate pass, Thomas says, he might have put up similar numbers to what he had done in his prime.

"[W]ell if I didn't get set up by a bad ball I probably would've had a light little 1k yards this year but could of should of I know I get it lol," Thomas wrote on Twitter.

Thomas had 439 receiving yards through the Saints' first nine games before the "bad ball" ended his season just three snaps into Game No. 10. Those numbers put him on pace for 829 receiving yards, which is not quite 1,000; but if he mixed in a few of his better games over the second half of the year, it's possible he could have gotten there. 

Either way, it seems like Thomas thinks he'd be better off trying to get those yards elsewhere in the future. "[T]hey wasn't even trying to get me the ball but it's no denying my style of play it dont age playa you will see," Thomas wrote of the Saints, in response to a tweet that said a change of scenery would be best for his future. 

While we will indeed see whether or not Thomas' style of play ages, the idea that the Saints weren't trying to get him the ball doesn't hold much water. Through the first eight weeks of the season, Thomas averaged 7.6 targets per game. Had he maintained that pace for the full season, he would have finished 21st in the NFL in targets. (He had three targets combined in Weeks 9 and 10, but as mentioned, he only played three snaps in that 10th game before getting injured.)

Obviously, that's not where Thomas was at his peak, but he had also played just 10 combined games over the previous three seasons before this year, and in his absence, the Saints drafted and then saw Chris Olave emerge as a true No. 1 option. With Thomas at 30 years old and coming off an injury-plagued run, it made sense for the Saints to lighten his workload in an effort to keep him healthy. And that worked better than it had since his career-best campaign back in 2019 ... right up until the "bad ball" from Carr, at least. 

With the Saints once again in a load of salary-cap trouble, it wouldn't be surprising if Thomas hits free agency this offseason. They can either carry him at his current $12.4 million cap number or release him as a post-June 1 cut and save $1.2 million. They could also once again restructure or extend his contract, or even add more void years to bring the cap number down, but given the way the past few years have gone, we shouldn't be shocked if the two sides decide it's best to part. 

If that happens, Thomas should have suitors this offseason, but it's likely that he'd get a one-year, "prove-it" type of deal. He seems to think his style of play will allow him to do just that.