Saints GM expects Michael Thomas back healthy, but there's 'work to do' to complete WR room

The New Orleans Saints have holes to fill outside of the quarterback, with the receiver room one place needing an overhaul.

Saints general manager Mickey Loomis noted Thursday that he expects Michael Thomas to return after missing the season due to ankle injury, but the club has work to do to upgrade the corps.

"We're expecting to have Mike back," Loomis said, via the team's official website. "His progress hopefully is going well, and the reports are that it's been going well. I know he is certainly motivated; Michael is always motivated, so that's not an issue. But Tre'Quan (Smith) is a free agent and Deonte Harris is an RFA (restricted free agent), so we've got some work to do to complete that room."

Last year, there were rumblings that the Saints and Thomas could be at a crossroads with a split possible. However, there have been no signs of contention this offseason, and New Orleans recently restructuring Thomas' deal to help their cap situation indicates he won't be going anywhere.

If the 2019 Offensive Player of the Year returns to form, it boosts the entire offense immediately. Sans Thomas, the Saints didn't have a single receiver who commanded attention and consistently won off the scrimmage line. Marquez Callaway led the Saints with 698 yards receiving on 46 catches with six touchdowns. Deonte Harris caught 36 passes for 570 yards and three scores. No other Saints player reached the 450-yard mark in receiving.

Without a ton of cap space, the Saints must conduct a targeted search for potential receiver additions.

"Our philosophy is going to be, we're looking for value in free agency," he said. "We're going to be looking for a value player or two in that middle-market, low-market range."

The draft is where the cap-strapped Saints are more likely to look to add receiver talent. On Thursday night, this year's crop of receivers showed off a load of speed, which is an element New Orleans needs in its corps.

In the final years of Sean Payton's leadership, the Saints didn't often toss a ton of assets at the receiver position. After essentially promoting the staff that was already in town, will New Orleans immediately use a first-round pick on a wideout for the first time since Brandin Cooks in 2014?

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