On one hand, the New Orleans Saints are pleased to reunite with running back Mark Ingram -- a fan-favorite who returned to the team by way of a trade ahead of Tuesday's NFL deadline. On the other hand, they'd love to finally reunite with Michael Thomas, which sounds strange when you consider he's never left the roster. He has left the building, however, and the Saints have no clue when they can expect him to take the field for them again, assuming he ever does. Thomas remains on the PUP (physically unable to perform) list after undergoing ankle surgery this offseason, and the latest update is anything but promising.
The All-Pro wideout is now reportedly dealing with a new, separate ankle injury, he announced on Tuesday, leading the Saints to reach out to several teams ahead of the trade deadline in the hopes of acquiring a receiver. That didn't materialize though, so while they'll presumably get stronger in the run game with the re-addition of Ingram behind Alvin Kamara, the passing attack will remain a question mark going forward, in the wake of losing Jameis Winston to a torn ACL and initially having no idea if Thomas will return in 2021.
They do now though, with Thomas issuing a statement declaring he won't play football until 2022.
"I've always been a man of faith and, these past few month, my faith has been tested," he said, via Twitter. "As many of you know, early last season I injured my ankle and worked extremely hard over the next few months to get back in time to finish the season.
"Unfortunately, the rehab didn't go as planned and earlier this offseason it was apparent I would need to have a procedure to repair the injury. Since then, the team and I have worked diligently, day and night to rehab and get me back on the field. Unfortunately, there has been another small setback which we will have to address. To my displeasure, I will not be able to make it back in time for this season, but will do everything in my power to get back to the player I have always been.
"I know God doesn't make mistakes, so i will continue to follow in His path, and can't wait to be back on the field in front of the best fans on the planet."
The saga regarding Thomas began in 2020, sparked by punishment handed down by the team for a fistfight in practice earlier last season that was followed by an ankle issue that eventually landed him on injured reserve, and a myriad of rumors he wanted out of New Orleans. Things hit fever pitch this offseason, when he opted to hold off on having the aforementioned ankle surgery until June. There were then reports Thomas had ignored the Saints' calls leading up to the procedure -- the club presumably trying to get updates on his situation -- but those reports were challenged when Thomas implied the team was attempting to damage his reputation by leaking false information.
There has supposedly been some positive talks between the two sides including head coach Sean Payton, allegedly one of the people Thomas ignored and one who was openly perturbed at the timing of the surgery, but it's unclear if that's true or if the relationship is salvageable at all going forward. He remains on the Saints roster for now, hitting the Saints salary cap for a robust $10.1 million that balloons to $24.7 million in 2022, despite having not played in a game since Dec. 13, 2020.
That is, of course, unless there's a divorce looming in a few months from now.