There is an old saying that goes “Out of sight out of mind.” This is a perfect analogy to describe the National Football League. No matter what type of player you are, the NFL will move on to the next big thing. A few years ago, New Orleans Saints wide receiver Michael Thomas was considered one of the best wide receivers in the league.
In 2019, he was the first wideout to win the NFL Offensive Player of the Year award since Jerry Rice won the title in 1993. Since then, Thomas has not scored a regular-season touchdown and has missed a total of 27 games due to an ankle injury.
Thomas’s absence has opened the door for young hungry receivers to climb atop the league’s wide receiver pecking order. Receivers like Ja’Marr Chase and Justin Jefferson to name a few have become household names during Thomas’ absence.
Now after missing nearly two years of football, Michael Thomas is back and is ready to take back his spot as one of the best pass-catchers in the NFL.
Michael Thomas is going to ball out this year
When Thomas was drafted by the Saints in the second round of the 2016 NFL Draft, he came into the NFL with very little fanfare. Five receivers were drafted before him, and the Saints already had a number one receiver in Brandin Cooks who was coming off a 1,000-yard season.
At the time the biggest storyline about Thomas was that he was the nephew of former NFL receiver Keyshawn Johnson. This put a huge chip on the Ohio State product’s shoulders. Thomas’ “me against the world” mentally, catapulted him to the top of the Saints’ wide receiver depth chart.
He finished his rookie season with 92 receptions 1137 yards and nine touchdowns and his production made Cooks expendable. The following year Cooks was traded to the New England Patriots.
In 2022, we will see the 2016 version of Michael Thomas again. Saints head coach Dennis Allen has been working hard to create competition at every position. Bringing in receiver Jarvis Landry, and drafting Chris Olave will motivate Thomas.
When someone is the best at something, they could find themselves taking their skills for granted, as the lack of competition can make them complacent. Not insinuating that Thomas does not work hard, but looking at the Saints’ wide receiver room over the past three seasons, I believe he had to feel how David Ruffin felt when he was a member of the famous Motown group the Temptations. He was the is all and be all of the group.
Now Thomas has players alongside him that are capable of taking over a game, and have proven they too could be the number one guy. Thomas has to bring it every single practice, or he too could find himself in the same position as Cooks back in 2016.
If one looks around the NFL, they will see that there is no shortage of talent at the wide receiver position. Players like Davante Adams, Tyreek Hill, and Cooper Kupp have been dominant. Meanwhile, Michael Thomas has been watching from afar.
The ankle injury that Thomas sustained in 2020 destroyed his momentum. He was in the top five receiver conversation. He had more catches than any other wideout in his first four seasons. In 2019 Thomas had 149 receptions, which is an NFL record for 1,725 yards and nine touchdowns. Some considered him the best wide receiver in football.
Now people are wondering if they will ever see the old Michael Thomas. This offseason Thomas has been more transparent than he has ever been in his entire career, giving visual updates on his progress, and showing his intense workouts.
That can be interpreted as him saying “I want my spot back, and I am putting the entire league on notice.” It has been a long road for Michael Thomas, filled with twists and turns every which way, but if he can get back to his old self, the NFL better watch out.
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