It wasn't long ago that New Orleans Saints wide receiver Michael Thomas was the best player in the NFL at his position. Unfortunately, injuries marred his 2020 campaign, and now he's going to miss at least the first five games of the 2021 season because he's expected to go on the physically unable to perform list, per ESPN's Adam Schefter.
Thomas underwent offseason foot surgery after playing just seven games last season. The Saints do have an early bye this season, which is why the 28-year-old could only miss five games instead of six.
This is an unfortunate blow for New Orleans as it navigates the post-Drew Brees era. Jameis Winston won the starting quarterback job over Taysom Hill, but the Saints are currently dealing with a tough situation due to Hurricane Ida. Week 1 against the Green Bay Packers might have to be played in Dallas.
As for Thomas, it's tough to see him continue to deal with these setbacks after he recently established his NFL dominance. He took the NFL by storm right when he entered the league in 2016, catching 92 passes for 1,137 yards and nine scores as a rookie. Prior to last season, those impressive rookie numbers were career-low marks in terms of receptions and receiving yards.
Thomas led the NFL in receptions in 2018 and 2019, catching a record 149 passes for 1,725 yards in the latter campaign. The wideout earned First-Team All-Pro honors both of those years and made three consecutive Pro Bowls from 2017-19.
Amid these injuries, Thomas has lobbed some criticism at the Saints for how his situation has been handled, though head coach Sean Payton recently claimed the beef has been squashed.
With Thomas out to start the season, the Saints will be banking on Tre'Quan Smith and Marquez Callaway at wide receiver. Callaway had himself a nice preseason, so look for him to have a breakout season.