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Michael Thomas rift with Saints, explained: Injury, fight only part of fractured relationship

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Michael Thomas rift with Saints, explained: Injury, fight only part of fractured relationship

Michael Thomas is the latest NFL superstar to enter what is becoming an increasingly public feud with his team this offseason.

The sixth-year catcher is coming off a frustrating 2020 campaign that saw him play nine games combined in the regular season and playoffs for the Saints, primarily due to a persistent ankle injury, but also, in part, due to action. New Orleans disciplinary. That frustration is likely compounded by the fact that it followed a season in which Thomas caught an NFL-record 149 passes for 1,750 yards and nine touchdowns, leading in the NFL.

Less than two years into that All-Pro performance, Thomas and the Saints face a gap that seems to grow by the day. The current tension between the two parties appears to stem from surgery to correct Thomas’ injury – the Saints reportedly advocated that he undergo surgery in January, but sought a second opinion from another doctor, prompting him to give up any procedure and try to rehabilitate without any problem. medical intervention.

Once that route was no longer considered viable, Thomas went through what is presumed to be the second of multiple procedures required at the end of the low season. The timing of the surgery will likely keep him away for at least the first part of the season.

MORE: Michael Thomas Injury Update: Saints WR Has Ankle Surgery, Timeline For Comeback Unclear, Report Says

However, there is more to the fractured relationship than Thomas’ surgery. Sporting News breaks the tension between the superstar catcher and his team, including his procedure, a fight during the season with a teammate, and growing business rumors:

What is Michael Thomas’s enmity with the Saints?

That’s a multi-faceted question, but at least it has a clear starting point: Week 1 of the 2020 season, when Thomas suffered a torn deltoid and other injured ankle ligaments against the Buccaneers (one that kept him out of the game for the next six games). ESPN, citing a source close to the situation, reported that Thomas chose not to have surgery for the season because he didn’t want to miss out on a chance to win a Super Bowl in what would become quarterback Drew Brees’ final season in New Orleans. . Still, he would have to lose some time before playing again.

Towards the end of that injury timeline, it was deemed possible to return for New Orleans’ Week 5 game against the Chargers. In the end, he was ruled out of the game, not because of injury, but because of an altercation he had with safety Chauncey Gardner-Johnson.

According to multiple reports, Thomas hit Gardner-Johnson at the end of practice before the Saints’ “Monday Night Football” game against Los Angeles, resulting in suspension and a fine imposed by the team. The day after the game, Thomas took to social media to post a series of confusing tweets, and to say that he would not be 100 percent competitive regardless of whether he was authorized to play:

Eleven days after Thomas tweeted (the Saints had a week off) head coach Sean Payton addressed rumors that the Saints were looking to trade Thomas. Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk reported that “the Saints may be willing to transfer him and / or that Thomas may be interested in transferring him.” Payton nipped that rumor in the bud from his verified (private) Twitter account:

MORE: What the heck is the Saints’ Michael Thomas trying to say with this cryptic sub-tweet?

So crisis averted, for the moment. Thomas ended up playing again in Week 8. According to the ESPN report, Thomas would not practice for the week due to ankle pain, but the Saints told him they were still better off with him than without him. He eventually recorded 40 receptions for 438 yards in the regular season. That was punctuated by two 100-yard receiving games against the Falcons in Weeks 10 and 12.

After going to injured reserve for weeks 15-17, Thomas returned for a performance of a five-catch, 73-yard touchdown against the Bears in the first round of the playoffs. But he had zero receptions on four goals in a divisional round loss to the Bucs in January.

With the season over, the Saints reportedly wanted Thomas to undergo surgery to repair his nagging ankle injury. That would allow him to rehab and get back in action in time for the summer OTAs. But Thomas sought the opinion of another doctor, who told him that he could repair his ankle without surgery. He finally opted for the latter option after meeting with the team in March. That meant meeting progressive benchmarks for the next three months.

But Jeff Duncan from The Times-Picayune (New Orleans) reported Saturday that after the meeting, Thomas lost communication with the team during that time. After his return to the team in June, it was discovered that his ankle was still not well and he was forced to undergo surgery, which the team had wanted six months earlier. The 10-12 week recovery schedule will keep him out of action for at least the first part of the season, which isn’t ideal considering the team is hosting a quarterback competition between Taysom Hill and Jameis Winston.

Payton made no bones about it when commenting on his displeasure with the situation: “It’s disappointing. We wish (the surgery) had happened sooner rather than later. And honestly, I should have. “

MORE: Calvin Johnson says in a Hall of Fame speech that he played most of his career with a back injury: ‘The pain never went away’

Following Saturday’s report, Thomas once again took to Twitter on Monday to apparently sub-tweet his team, hinting that there is more to the story than has been reported:

It didn’t end there. Thomas was later seen liking it in a tweet suggesting that the Saints were the ones who told Thomas not to have surgery in the regular season, putting him in a position where he could make his career worse. injury by not repairing it immediately.

This latest round of drama has once again created another round of commercial buzz. This time around, the rumor mill already has a team in mind for a possible destination: Jacksonville. Duncan reported Monday that the Saints are looking for a cornerback; The Jaguars are reportedly looking to dump CJ Henderson. That led some to suggest the Saints rule out Thomas for Henderson and future Jacksonville picks. The proposed trade was also considered good for Thomas, as he would meet former Ohio State coach Urban Meyer in Jacksonville; the two won a college football playoff championship in 2014.

However, that deal doesn’t make sense to the Saints, as he pointed out. ESPN’s Bill Barnwell: Because of the way they have restructured their contract, they would have to eat 32.6 million dollars in dead money. Instead, it makes more sense for them to reconcile with their superstar receiver.

Assuming Thomas is still contacting the team outside of the sub-tweets.

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