New Orleans Saints receiver Michael Thomas suggested the team is attempting to damage his reputation amid reports he ignored the team this offseason when contacted about the recovery of his ankle.
Thomas underwent surgery on his ailing ankle in June, five months after the Saints' 2020 season ended. While it was known that Thomas had the injury all last season and might need surgery, he ignored phone calls from the team throughout the offseason after seeking a second opinion, per Jeff Duncan of NOLA.com.
"Well, look, it appears we're gonna have to spend some time without him. It's disappointing," Saints coach Sean Payton told reporters in July. "And we'll work through it with the other players that are here. But the surgery took place, and obviously we would've liked that to happen earlier than later. And quite honestly, it should've."
Thomas is not expected to be available for the beginning of the regular season and has no firm timetable for a return, with NFL Network's Ian Rapoport reporting in July that the procedure could take four months to return from. It's likely he'll have two lost seasons under his belt due to the ankle injury by the end of 2021. The three-time Pro Bowler was limited to 40 receptions for 438 yards last season. He had at least 90 catches for 1,100 yards each of his first four NFL seasons.
The Saints and Thomas restructured his contract in March amid trade rumors. He will receive a base salary of only $1 million this season after converting most of his salary into a bonus, and the team could move on next offseason and save $15.8 million if he's traded or cut after June 1.