New Orleans Saints wide receiver Michael Thomas was eligible to be activated off the PUP list in Week 7, but he remained there with no word from the team. Now we know why.
On Wednesday morning, Thomas announced on Twitter that he won't be able to play at all this season due to a setback in his recovery from the high ankle sprain he had surgically repaired in July.
Thomas is calling his injury a setback, though NFL Network's Ian Rapoport reported that Thomas is dealing with a new ankle injury.
Thomas' lost season began with controversy, confusion
Regardless of whether Thomas suffered a setback or a new injury, it's an early end to a season that could have gone much differently.
Thomas has been on the PUP list since the beginning of the season, the result of a fairly disastrous offseason rehab program that didn't go as well as it could have. Thomas suffered a high ankle sprain in Week 1 of the 2020 season, and went on to appear in just seven total games as the injury continued to nag at him. The Saints reportedly wanted him to get surgery to fix the injury during the offseason, but allowed Thomas to try and rehab without surgery.
Everything gets murky after that. According to the New Orleans Times-Picayune, Thomas stopped returning the Saints' calls as they attempted to check up on his rehab. When he arrived at training camp in July, he ended up having surgery on his ankle anyway since it reportedly hadn't healed enough during the offseason. He'd need 3-4 months to recover, meaning he'd miss the start of the season.
Head coach Sean Payton made his displeasure clear at the start of training camp, telling the media that Thomas should have had the surgery when the team first suggested it in early 2020. If he had, Thomas would have been able to start the season on time.
A few weeks later, as reports emerged that Thomas had ignored team phone calls about his ankle rehab, Thomas appeared to call out the Saints on Twitter for trying to "damage" his reputation.
It looked like this feud might cause serious trouble on the team, or even lead to Thomas' departure from the Saints, but Yahoo Sports' Charles Robinson reported that Thomas and Payton met a few days later and resolved their differences, pledging to move forward.
Unfortunately, Thomas will have to wait until 2022 to get back on the field and fully move past the ankle injury that will have cost him almost two seasons.