Report: Michael Thomas Joins Saints for Preseason Opener amid Trade Rumors

Adam WellsAugust 14, 2021

NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA - JANUARY 10: Michael Thomas #13 of the New Orleans Saints reacts following his 11-yard touchdown during the first quarter against the Chicago Bears in the NFC Wild Card Playoff game at Mercedes Benz Superdome on January 10, 2021 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Chris Graythen/Getty Images

Amid recent drama between the New Orleans Saints and Michael Thomas, the star wide receiver will reportedly be with the team for its preseason opener Saturday. 

Per ESPN's Mike Triplett, Thomas has joined the Saints ahead of their game against the Baltimore Ravens, though he will remain sidelined after June ankle surgery.

There has been some trade speculation involving Thomas amid a dispute with the Saints about the timing of the procedure. 

Larry Holder of The Athletic reported Friday that the Saints are "more than open" to trading their two-time All-Pro wide receiver. 

Despite the trade buzz, there have been indications that New Orleans is also trying to keep things cordial with Thomas. 

Charles Robinson of Yahoo Sports reported Wednesday that Thomas and Saints head coach Sean Payton "have had positive talks" recently to "clear the air" between the two sides. 

The issues became public when Payton told reporters on July 28 he wasn't happy that Thomas waited until June to have ankle surgery. 

"Well, look, it appears we're gonna have to spend some time without him. It's disappointing," Payton said. "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."

Last week, Jeff Duncan of NOLA.com reported Thomas ignored calls from members of the Saints organization, including Payton, for three months during the offseason. 

Earlier this week, Thomas posted a cryptic tweet that appeared to be commenting on some of his issues with the Saints:

Michael Thomas @Cantguardmike

<a href="https://t.co/frSOCaKHSs">pic.twitter.com/frSOCaKHSs</a>

Trying to trade Thomas would seem to be very difficult. The 28-year-old only has a $10.1 million cap hit this season, but the Saints would absorb roughly a $10 million dead-cap hit in 2021 and $22.7 million in 2022. 

All those years of free spending appear to have caught up with New Orleans. The team already has $223.32 million in salary commitments next season, per Spotrac.

Thomas' trade value is likely at an all-time low because he is expected to miss the start of the regular season because of his surgery. He only caught 40 passes for 438 yards with zero touchdowns in seven games last season. 

It's in the best interest of Thomas and the Saints to work together and figure out a path forward next offseason.