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Could this be the end of the “Can’t Guard Mike” era in New Orleans?

Decisions, decisions, decisions…

NFL: New Orleans Saints at New England Patriots
MT showing love to the fans after a game
Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

It has been nearly 8 years since the New Orleans Saints selected Michael Thomas with the 47th pick in the 2016 NFL Draft. The former Ohio State wide receiver came into the NFL and made an immediate impact with the Saints offense. He logged 92 catches, 1137 yards and 9 TD’s his rookie season and would only see those totals elevate over his next 3 years. In fact, Thomas stills holds the NFL record for most receptions in the first 4 years of a career with 470 and is second in yards to Justin Jefferson with 5,512. During that same stretch between the 2016-19 seasons, Thomas earned honors as a 3x Pro Bowler, 2x First Team All-Pro and Offensive Player of the Year, when he also managed to break the current single season reception record with 149 grabs.

Since reaching the pinnacle of his career in 2019, the former Ohio State Buckeye WR has only suited up and played a meek total of 20 games over the last 4 seasons. Multiple injuries have now severely plagued his overall team presence and more importantly, his production on the field. Thomas played in 10 games this past season while posting 39 receptions for 448 yards and 1 score, with those numbers being eerily similar to his first injury riddled season where he only played in 7 games during the 2020 season (40 recs/ 438 yds/0 TD’s). When on the field, most of Who Dat Nation as well as his teammates would certainly concur that MT gives you 150%, competes at an extremely high level and plays with a “natural chip” on his shoulder that’s the size of his home state, California. Now, it has come to the point where the “rubber meets the road” and the Saints will have to make a tough financial decision on Thomas’ future with the organization.

Chicago Bears v New Orleans Saints
Thomas has been with the Saints for his entire career thus far
Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

The biggest problem and the unavoidable issue looming over “Can’t Guard Mike’s” remaining career in New Orleans is the obvious, his health. The wideout is going into his 10th NFL season and still under contract with the Black and Gold, as he is due a $1.2M base salary for the 2024-25 season. In addition to this being his last of a 5-year deal he signed in 2019, the emergence of young budding stars Chris Olave, All-Pro/Pro Bowler Rasheed Shaheed and rookie A.T. Perry make it extremely interesting for Thomas’ position within the wide receiver room. I do believe, with all that being said, he supplies a great amount of leadership and veteran presence that would provide value to the team.

NFL: New Orleans Saints Press Conference
What will Mickey Loomis and the rest of Saints’ management team decide?
Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

This will definitely be one of the more intriguing ones amongst many offseason subplots for the Saints organization. As it relates to Michael Thomas’ future, the persistent pendulum is at its peak between the immense success that once was versus what recent years have shown us due to injury. I will definitely be locked in to see how this one plays out.

Stay tuned…