And his status remains unclear as the 2022-23 NFL season approaches.
On Thursday, Saints head coach Dennis Allen revealed that Thomas is doubtful to participate in the team’s mandatory minicamp, per Bleacher Report, despite previous reports that Thomas was a lock to return to the field this season after almost a two-year layoff.
“I think mentally he’s in a great place and, again, we’re just going to let that process play out and get him healthy,” Allen said. “And look, we have a long time to go before we play a game. I’m not looking for a huge jump, I just want to see him keep getting a little better every day.
“We feel good about what Mike’s done in the rehab process. There are still a few hurdles that we’ve gotta climb — with any of our guys that had any injuries [that] they’re trying to get back from.”
That said, the question remains: Can Thomas return to the player that he once was?
“I certainly hope so,” Allen said of the three-time Pro Bowler. “I think that’s what all our goals are. I couldn’t answer that question, but that’s certainly what we anticipate and hope.”
Thomas has averaged 117.5 catches, 1,378 yards and eight touchdowns per season during the first four years of his career with New Orleans. In 2019, his last full year played, Thomas posted an NFL record 149 catches in 2019 for 1,725 yards en route to becoming the 2019 NFL Offensive Player of the Year.
He played in seven games (five starts) during the 2020-21 season while dealing with ankle and hamstring injuries before missing the entire 2021-22 campaign after undergoing surgery the offseason prior.
With Thomas’ status up in the air, and QB Jameis Winston working his way back to full strength for New Orleans, the Saints reloaded at the wide receiver position this offseason with first-round draft pick Chris Olave and free agent acquisition Jarvis Landry to join the likes of as Marquez Callaway and Tre’Quan Smith.
Thomas signed a five-year, $96-million contract extension in 2019. He is set to count $13.1 million against the Saints’ salary cap in 2022, per Pro Football Network.
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