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Michael Thomas’ rift with the Saints, defined

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Michael Thomas was the best receiver within the NFL through the 2019 season, and it wasn’t even shut. Catching a league-high 149 passes, to associate with his 1,725 receiving yards, the partnership between Thomas and Drew Brees was the scariest within the league for opposing defenses.

Now, lower than two years later, it’s all collapsed. Thomas is on the outs in New Orleans. He’s reportedly refused to reply calls from coaches, and the receiver is pissed off over variations over how his injured ankle ought to have been handled. Now he’s taking to Twitter and claiming the Saints are attempting to smash his repute, whereas insinuating he is aware of the ugly issues the crew has completed, however is selecting to not air their soiled laundry. Issues are very, very ugly.

What bought the connection up to now?

Thomas, who had an injury-plagued 2020 season, was clearly not himself for a lot of the yr. Whereas he did handle to return in time for the playoffs and mount an enormous effort to guide the Saints previous the Bears within the playoffs, he then didn’t make an influence in any respect in opposition to the Buccaneers, not with the ability to register a single catch within the crew’s 30-20 loss.

What adopted was a significant turning level for the Saints. With the crew in wage cap hell, and Brees retiring, main veteran cuts can be wanted to proper the ship. Nonetheless, it shortly grew to become clear that it doesn’t matter what: Thomas can be staying in New Orleans. A receiver of his caliber was too vital to future plans at quarterback, providing one of many league’s finest security nets for whoever would take over as sign caller.

Only one situation remained. The ankle damage that plagued him for a lot of the 2020 season was nonetheless lingering, and it’s right here the issues started.

The Saints believed Thomas wanted ankle surgical procedure to be prepared for the season. Thomas claims he bought a second opinion from a physician who believed he may very well be game-ready with out surgical intervention. Nicely inside his rights to take heed to that second opinion, Thomas tried to rehab his ankle himself — however in the end these efforts failed. Thomas went beneath the knife in June, indefinitely delaying his begin to the season.

Now, right here’s the place issues get murky. The Saints have mentioned they wished to verify in with Thomas whereas he tried to rehab himself from the top of the season to Could, however he refused to reply their calls.

“For unknown causes, Thomas fell out of communication with the Saints. He didn’t return a number of calls over the subsequent three months. Then-Saints coach Beau Lowery, large receivers coach Curtis Johnson and head coach Sean Payton all tried to achieve Thomas. None of their calls have been taken or returned.”

Saints coach Sean Payton didn’t mince his phrases when requested about Thomas’ timeline throughout coaching camp.

“It’s disappointing,” Payton mentioned final week when requested in regards to the state of affairs. “We might have favored (the surgical procedure) to have occurred earlier somewhat than later. And fairly actually, it ought to have.”

Payton’s feedback appear to have set off Thomas, resulting in his pissed off tweet and concern about his long-term future with the Saints.

So, what do we predict occurred right here?

It’s difficult, as a result of because it stands we actually solely have the Saints’ aspect of the story — however even then, that aspect of it doesn’t actually make sense. Objectively it appears like data is being omitted, and Thomas is alluding to the identical. It’s unclear why Thomas would out of the blue cease answering the calls of coaches and crew officers, particularly after they have been okay with him making an attempt an alternate remedy path.

Payton’s feedback allude to a variety of friction surrounding the state of affairs. To be truthful, the Saints have been in the end right. They wished Thomas to get surgical procedure early, and he selected to not — solely to then should get it later. The timing unquestionably sucks, and will put the beginning of New Orleans’ season in jeopardy, although they have been nonetheless seen as an excessive lengthy shot to win the Tremendous Bowl after Brees’ retirement.

The acute cynic’s view can be that this was a solution to try to pressure a commerce to a greater constructed, extra profitable crew. Nonetheless, there’s no proof of that. It might make sense for Thomas to need to push for a Tremendous Bowl on a brand new crew as he rounds the nook to 30, however suggesting he delayed surgical procedure for that cause is slightly excessive.

As issues are usually, the reality possible lies within the center. Thomas wished to try to repair the ankle situation himself, the Saints wished him to get surgical procedure instantly — and it broken their relationship. Now it’s unquestionably hurting the beginning of the Saints’ season, Thomas feels there’s a coordinated effort to make him look unhealthy within the public eye, and there’s going to must be a variety of work completed with the intention to deliver the perimeters again in sync.

It’s undoubtedly going to be one thing to look at as we strategy the beginning of the season.

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