Carolina Panthers v New Orleans Saints
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At this point, it's fair to question just how long Michael Thomas will be in a New Orleans Saints uniform. The two sides had a very contentious 2020 that included rumors about a rather sizable fracture in the relationship, and things were only made worse by the lack of availability of the All-Pro receiver -- having logged only five starts due mostly to a nagging ankle injury. The Saints were looking forward to Thomas getting the injury resolved quickly when the season concluded, but he opted to do anything but.

The 28-year-old waited until June to undergo the procedure to repair his ankle, and that decision not only means he'll miss significant time this coming season, but it infuriated the Saints in the process. And as it turns out, there's more to the story, because Thomas reportedly ignored calls from the organization -- including the trainer, wide receivers coach and even head coach Sean Payton -- per Jeff Duncan of

Payton voiced his displeasure with the delay in surgery, and he was unequivocal in his frustration.

"It appears we're going to have to spend some time without him," Payton said. "It's disappointing. We would have liked that to have happened earlier. And quite honestly, it should have. 

"I'm going to leave it at that." 

Saints VP and general manager Mickey Loomis agreed with Payton, wholeheartedly.

"With hindsight, we would have preferred that surgery to be earlier, in February or March," Loomis said. "But it wasn't. It is what it is. Hopefully he's had a good result so far and we can get him back sooner rather than later." 

And that's pretty much where the Saints are with their mercurial wideout: it is what it is.

That's not exactly the temperature the team would like to have with a player they signed to a five-year, $100 million contract extension just over 24 months ago. And as the Saints try to figure out the longterm answer at quarterback in the wake of an expected retirement by Drew Brees, the absence of Thomas hurts that much more -- the definitive WR1 not being around to help Jameis Winston and Taysom Hill ready for the pressure that awaits them in a few weeks.

It's unclear when Thomas will return to the field in New Orleans or, at this point, if he will -- if allegations of him [also] ignoring the team are true. The more time passes, the more the once thrilling football marriage becomes anything but.