How Will the Saints Handle Losing Michael Thomas?

How will the New Orleans Saints handle losing All-Pro wide receiver Michael Thomas for the first several games of the 2021-22 regular season?
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Losing Michael Thomas is an additional blow for Sean Payton and the New Orleans Saints to handle on the dawn of training camp. First, the announced suspension of defensive tackle David Onyemata by the league and this morning's injury update on their best wide receiver are tremendous hits for New Orleans.

Without Michael Thomas in the lineup to start the 2021 regular season, the New Orleans Saints will not have one of their best offensive weapons for either Jameis Winston or Taysom Hill - which complicates their offensive attack.

Jameis Winston has been working extensively this offseason with receivers Tre'Quan Smith, Marquez Callaway, Deonte Harris, Adam Trautman, and Juwan Johnson. Their workouts together should help Winston in his quarterback battle, but will it help the team as a whole?  

Chemistry between a QB and WR is important. (Note: Drew Brees and Michael Thomas)

Last season, the Saints did not have Thomas for nine games and turned to veteran wideout Emmanuel Sanders somewhat bridge the gap. Sanders had 61 receptions for 726 yards and five touchdowns. He caught 33 passes to extended drives resulting in first downs. But Sanders could only muster one game with over 100 yards.  

Saints WR Tre'Quan Smith

WHAT ABOUT TRE'QUAN SMITH?

  • Can Tre'Quan Smith, in his fourth season, step into the No.1 receiver spot? 
  • Or, should New Orleans consider someone in free agency or via a trade? 

Smith has not demonstrated sustained high production with the Saints.  After New Orleans' recent minicamp, many expect Tre'Quan Smith will have a breakout 2021 season. Smith was injured and missed two games last season. He only caught 34 balls for 448 yards and four touchdowns. 

However, with the recent Michael Thomas surgery and rehabilitation developments, do you trust to have only one veteran in the receiving corps?

Saints WR Marquez Callaway

WHO'S NEXT?

Marquez Callaway, Lil' Jordan Humphrey, and Juwan Johnson have the body type, length, strength, and speed of Thomas, but let's face facts, they aren't Michael Thomas. 

Replacing a record-setting wide receiver for an uncertain timetable will be daunting for Sean Payton. In 2020, the passing game significantly dropped to 19th in the league, but players did step up and performed.

Keep an eye on seventh-round pick Kawaan Baker out of South Alabama. I have a sneaky feeling he will be making noise and getting noticed in Saints training camp in August.

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AVAILABLE FREE-AGENT WIDE RECEIVERS:

  • Kenny Stills,
  • Larry Fitzgerald - unsure returning to NFL,
  • Golden Tate,
  • Dede Westbrook, 
  • Alshon Jeffery, 
  • Dez Bryant, 
  • Marqise Lee

These players are a few well-named options for New Orleans.

Sean Payton relishes at the chance to overcome huge odds.  Losing Thomas is just another fly in the ointment for the Saints.  Can they successfully navigate the first half of the season without Thomas?

We shall see.