Disastrous news struck the web on Friday morning as it was reported by multiple sources that New Orleans Saints star WR Michael Thomas will miss the beginning of the 2021 after undergoing surgery to repair ankle ligaments back in June. NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport is reporting that Thomas “could be on the sideline for weeks” after the surgery which comes with a recommended four months of recovery. Depending on when exactly in June Thomas underwent this surgery, if the full four months of recovery were applied the best case scenario for the Saints would be to get their star receiver back in October for the Week 4 contest vs the New York Giants.
Sources: #Saints star WR Michael Thomas is expected to miss the start of the 2021 season after undergoing surgery to repair the ligaments in his ankle in June. Based on the timing of the surgery – and recommended 4 months of recovery – Thomas could be on the sideline for weeks.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) July 23, 2021
Thomas is coming off of an oft-injured 2020 season which saw him miss nine games of the season, tallying just 45 receptions after his record-setting 156 the season before. He’s been the top receiver on the Saints ever since Sean Payton and co. drafted him out of Ohio State in 2016, and his performance in the 2019 season earned him NFL Offensive Player of the Year honors, after setting an NFL record with 156 receptions in the 16-game season.
It’s unclear why Thomas elected to have this surgery in June, so close to the season, rather earlier in the offseason. In time, the Saints will have to be without their most reliable pass catcher, and a WR corps that was looking dismal even with Thomas will have to cope without him for at least part of this upcoming season.
Updated: Sunday, July 25th at 12:40 PM CT
According to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, New Orleans Saints WR Michael Thomas is expected to start the 2021 season on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list.
ICYMI, headlines from a busy few days:— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) July 25, 2021
— #Texans QB Deshaun Watson has officially reported to camp https://t.co/srn5fcYdNk
— #Packers WR Davante Adams & GB are in a bad place https://t.co/xD8tXEvTvo
— #Saints WR Michael Thomas to begin the season on PUP https://t.co/RBjt2Dglye
With earlier reports indicating that Thomas could miss up to five games and the Saints having a bye week Week 6, this move makes a lot of season. Starting the season on the PUP list would keep Thomas sidelined for the first six weeks of the season. After those six weeks, the All-Pro receiver could return to practice and New Orleans would have 21 days to activate him back to the 53-man roster.
They could activate him as early or late in that three-week window as they feel necessary. Meaning his earliest possible return would be the Monday Night Football matchup against the Seattle Seahawks Week 7.
Alternatively, he can be activated anytime during training camp, which would result in the receiver being available earlier than expected with regular season Injured Reserve moves only requiring three weeks of absence.
In the meanwhile, the Saints have been reportedly exploring free agent options and we could start seeing some tryouts and workouts for available receivers on the market this week as training camp begins.