With New Orleans Saints wide receiver Michael Thomas returning to the team just two weeks after having surgery to fix a torn labrum in his hip, Sean Payton and the Saints front office were forced to make a decision on whether or not to place Thomas on the injured reserve list. The Saints released a statement on Monday night announcing that Thomas would indeed not be placed on the injured reserve, which would have cut short his season.
New Orleans Saints wide receiver Michael Thomas received a new contract from the team this past offseason, but now Sean Payton has come out and said that he doesn’t believe Thomas is worth the money he receives. Thomas has been one of the best wide receivers in the Saints’ offense and has a legitimate chance at being the best in the NFL.
It’s never easy to see your teammates go through tough times, but it’s even harder when you are part of the same team. After New Orleans Saints wide receiver Michael Thomas suffered a torn ACL and dislocated knee during training camp, Payton tried desperately to hide the injury from the media and fans. Payton even went so far as to imply that the injury was minor and that he would be back on the field for the start of the season.
In the NFL, injuries and operations are common. It’s just a reality of life. When these things happen, it’s nearly always inevitable for a player to lose time that affects their team. The lost games in the case of New Orleans Saints standout wide receiver Michael Thomas, who is expected to miss at least the opening few weeks of the 2021 NFL season due to ankle surgery, might have been avoided. At least, that’s what his coach, Sean Payton, says.
Due to ankle surgery, Michael Thomas will miss games in 2021.
Michael Thomas and Sean Payton (from left to right) | Wesley Hitt/Getty Images
Michael Thomas should have had another fantastic NFL season in 2020. In 2019, the former Ohio State Buckeye led the league in catches (149), yards (1,725), and yards per game (107.8) after back-to-back All-Pro seasons.
Unfortunately for Tomas and the Saints, an ankle injury forced him to miss the bulk of Drew Brees’ final season. In 2020, he missed six of the first seven games, then battled through six very unproductive weeks before calling off a season in Week 14. Throughout the season, he did not score a single touchdown.
On December 13, 2020, he played his last game in Week 13. With that date in mind, Thomas’ announcement that he underwent ankle surgery in June came as a bit of a shock. The star wideout’s four-plus-month rehab timetable means he won’t be back until Week 4 at the earliest.
When asked about the timing of Thomas’ operation, Saints coach Sean seemed irritated.
When the news initially surfaced, no one knew whether Thomas’ operation was a follow-up to a previous treatment that didn’t work or if he just postponed it to enjoy his offseason.
Listening to Payton’s news conference at the start of training camp, it seems like the latter is the case. According to ESPN, the long-time Saints coach said to reporters:
Well, it seems that we’ll have to do without him for a while. It’s unfortunate, but we’ll sort it out with the other players present. However, the operation took occur, albeit we would have preferred it to happen sooner rather than later. And, to be honest, it should’ve been.
Michael Thomas vs. Sean Payton
Coaches in the NFL don’t typically throw a talented player under the bus like this. Payton’s willingness to be open and honest with the media suggests that he is unhappy with Thomas’s lack of urgency in getting the offseason surgery.
In 2021, Payton and the Saints will be in dire need of Thomas.
One of the most probable causes of Payton’s dissatisfaction is the fact that 2021 will be a watershed year for the New Orleans Saints.
Coach Jim Haslett was dismissed and quarterback Aaron Brooks was released after the 2005 season. That summer, the club hired Sean Payton, the offensive coordinator of the New York Giants, and signed Drew Brees, the former quarterback of the San Diego Chargers. The Saints have gone 143-81 since then, including a Super Bowl victory.
Payton and the Saints will be without Brees for the first time this season. For the first time in a decade and a half, the Big Easy will host a quarterback battle between quarterback/Swiss Army knife Taysom Hill and former No. 1 overall selection Jameis Winston.
Regardless of who wins the offseason fight, Payton and the club now know their starting quarterback will be without his top pass-catcher for at least the first three games of the season. This isn’t good news for a tea attempting to stay up with the reigning Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the division.
Pro Football Reference provided all stats.
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