It’s been a strange few months for New Orleans Saints superstar wide receiver Michael Thomas.
Coming off of a historic season in which he posted an NFL-record 149 catches in 2019, Thomas was expected once again to dominate targets and provide the Saints with an unguardable force on the outside and in the slot. Quarterback Drew Brees isn’t getting any younger, and Thomas’ ability to separate and create throwing lines for his aging passer would be worth its weight in gold.
The Saints’ front office doesn’t offer compensation in gold to our knowledge, but they did come to terms on a 5-year, $100 million extension with Michael Thomas in the summer of 2019, and it seemed like this marriage was going to be a fruitful one for everyone involved.
But the 2020 season got off to an unfortunate start for the former Ohio State Buckeye pass-catcher. In the Saints' much-anticipated season opener against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Thomas’ impact barely registered on the stat sheet, as he tallied three catches for a total of 17 yards.
Although New Orleans won the game comfortably, it was a bit of a peculiar showing, but could have ultimately been chalked up to the fact that the Saints were leading most of the way and did not need to air the ball out.
Late in that game, Thomas suffered a high ankle sprain, which ended up leaving him on the sideline for three games. Right before he was slated to return in the Saints' Week 5 game against the Los Angeles Chargers, Thomas got into an altercation with teammate C.J. Gardner-Johnson. The Saints decided to suspend Thomas for the Chargers game, although there was some speculation that he still wasn't over the ankle injury.
After a bye in Week 6, Michael Thomas’ bad injury luck continued, as he suffered a hamstring injury in practice leading up to New Orleans’ Week 7 game against the Carolina Panthers. The hamstring ailment would end up sidelining him for that game, as well as the Week 8 contest against the Chicago Bears.
While no one questioned the legitimacy of Michael Thomas’ injuries, there were also rumblings that he was not happy with the organization for their handling of his altercation with Gardner-Johnson, and that those feelings may have in fact been mutual.
If the Saints do in fact decide after the season that Michael Thomas is no longer a fit for their plans, there would probably be 31 other teams lined up outside the Superdome ready to take this problem off of their hands.
But which teams would be the best fit for the game-changing wide receiver?
NFL Trade Rumors: Michael Thomas to the Baltimore Ravens?
In terms of need and utilization, the Ravens could not be a better fit for Michael Thomas. While the team has gotten by in the regular season with the likes of Willie Snead and Devin Duvernay as depth options, Baltimore’s offense could catapult to another level if they paired someone of Thomas’ ability across the field from emerging second-year pro Marquise "Hollywood" Brown.
The Ravens just took a flier on former Pro Bowl receiver Dez Bryant, signaling that they realize internally that they need to upgrade the talent surrounding QB Lamar Jackson.
Baltimore may need to make some tough financial decisions if they wanted to make a push for Michael Thomas, though, and perhaps would decide to let talented defenders like Matthew Judon and Yannick Ngakoue walk in free agency to bolster their talent on the offensive side of the ball.
NFL Trade Rumors: Michael Thomas to the Indianapolis Colts?
The viability of the Colts as a landing spot for Michael Thomas in the 2021 season really depends on how current QB Philip Rivers finishes out the 2020 campaign.
If the team is satisfied with bringing back the ageless wonder for a second season in Indianapolis and not pursue a young/rookie quarterback in a rebuild, Thomas could be the missing piece for a team that is looking to make a Super Bowl run.
The Colts have pieced and schemed their way to a 6-3 season without stellar contributions from any of their receivers. While rookie wideout Michael Pittman Jr. has shown flashes in recent games, and veteran T.Y. Hilton has battled injury and ineffectiveness, the team has relied on their trio of talented running backs and the short passing game in order to get by.
While they’ve done a nice job making things work to date, it figures to be difficult for them to get over the hump if they don’t add a significant offensive piece like Michael Thomas to their mix in the offseason.
NFL Trade Rumors: Michael Thomas to the Las Vegas Raiders?
The Raiders made a splashy acquisition in the 2019 offseason, thinking they had a WR1 locked up for the forseeable future. Antonio Brown was supposed to be the game-wrecking force that QB Derek Carr could rely on to keep up with the likes of the Kansas City Chiefs and the Baltimore Ravens in the AFC.
But due to a much publicized fallout, that dream never got off the ground.
Since that point, Las Vegas has invested significant capital to improve their receiving corps, but GM Mike Mayock and head coach Jon Gruden made the play for Brown thinking they’d have someone opposing teams would have no choice but to double team, which would open things up for everyone else.
While they would probably be extra diligent in doing their character research and assessment of Michael Thomas given past experiences, it seems clear that the team would love secure the level of talent he brings to the table.
Published 15 Nov 2020, 13:30 IST