An update to the Michael Thomas-New Orleans Saints saga was released by columnist Jeff Duncan earlier this morning. Duncan inside sources points to the fact Michael Thomas did not answer and return several follow-up calls from the organization (assistant coach, trainer, and Payton himself). The missing communication "contributed to the delay in his surgery" which occurred in June.
There are several puzzling aspects to the matter. Why didn't Thomas return the calls of his superiors? Also, why would the organization wait until the start of camp without demanding a report on his ankle's health?
August 7, 2021 - Update
The Michael Thomas news has the Saints facing more drama and intrigue on the cusp of a training camp than in recent memory under Sean Payton.
Suppose you read between the lines. Friday's report of the All-Pro receiver missing the start of the season, then Nick Underhill revealed he missed a doctor's follow-up appointment on his ankle signals trouble between the Saints and Thomas.
Thomas seems to have an issue and tension with the Saints organization. The question is, why? And, how did they get to this point? Better yet, can it be fixed?
A RUNDOWN OF THOMAS' DRAMA
- He had offseason social media beefs with NFL wide receivers.
- He consistently reminded everyone how he is the best wide receiver in professional football.
- Social media tirades
- He injures his ankle in Week 1. Not a good way to start your season.
- A locker room brawl with safety Chauncey Gardner-Johnson.
- The argument with Sean Payton, mistreatment of staff members, and subsequent suspension. (See Jeff Duncan's article)
- The Saints were rumored to seek a trade and deal Thomas during the season.
- Thomas never fully regained the speed and health of his ankle during the season.
- Returned to the active roster and failed to record a catch in the playoff loss to the eventual Super Bowl Champions, Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
- He was scheduled for multiple surgeries to repair the ankle ligaments.
- Drew Brees - his biggest supporter - retires from the NFL.
- A distant offseason, but vowed to return to form via social media.
- At some point, Thomas missed a follow-up appointment with his physician regarding the status of his ankle.
- He wasn't available to the press at the mandatory Saints minicamp.
- An additional surgical procedure in June.
- Announcement of Thomas missing the start of the 2021-22 regular season.
- Nick Underhill's report about the missing doctor's appointment.
QUESTIONS AND MORE QUESTIONS
In an interview with WDSU News' Sharief Ishaq, former Saints head coach Jim Mora Sr. was candid about Thomas' surgery news, "it's a shocker that you wait until June to have surgery," and he continued saying, "I question that."
The timing is questionable and puzzling. Physically, Michael Thomas is a fine-tuned athlete. Players know their bodies. Also, players know their passion and heart for playing with a particular team.
Perhaps, Thomas is at a crossroads and feels his time in New Orleans has run its course. All of this is speculation, but you have to read between the lines at times and notice the signs of trouble brewing.
PLAYERS FORCING TEAMS INTO DECISIONS
The cases of Michael Thomas, Aaron Rodgers, and Xavien Howard are clear. Star athletes are willing to play the game of high-stakes poker with their careers in the NFL.
High-profile players take control and force team executives to make difficult decisions by publicly painting them into a corner.
Other than Howard, the issues with Rodgers and Thomas do not appear to be linked to financial issues.
So exactly what is the issue?
Saints GM Mickey Loomis and Sean Payton will have to either come to some terms with Thomas or make contingency plans.
The team is at his mercy. New Orleans must wait, note how his ankle responds, and observe how he performs before making any decisions.
Currently, Thomas holds all of the cards. Like Rodgers and Howard, will the ball clubs fold or call their bluff?
Make no bones about this one critical fact; without Thomas, New Orleans' offense is vulnerable. We know Brees will not be under center, but could a loss of Thomas create more damage for the team this season?
Will they be as effective, or will the Saints' offense be different?
We shall see.
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