Saints not expected to trade Michael Thomas (ankle), want star WR back for 2022 season

The Saints played the entire 2021 season without star receiver Michael Thomas due to a string of nagging ankle injuries.

An eventful 9-8 campaign for the Saints, followed by Sean Payton's stunning departure, defensive coordinator Dennis Allen's ensuing promotion and Alvin Kamara's arrest in Las Vegas, largely shifted the spotlight off of Thomas, his uncertain recovery timetable and questions regarding his role in the club's plans going forward.

On Saturday, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported on Super Bowl Live that the organization does not plan to trade the 2019 AP Offensive Player of the Year and expect him back on the playing field in 2022.

"It seems the curiosity and saga surrounding Michael Thomas, the Saints' standout receiver, is coming to a close in a positive way for all parties," Rapoport said. "He's spent considerable time in New York after another setback with his [ankle], getting weekly treatments. That's where he has been really since the regular season ended. ... He is back in New Orleans now, he's been communicating with the team."

Lower leg issues have limited the former All-Pro for two seasons and eventually required the 28-year-old to undergo two surgeries in 2021. Thomas' 2022 cap number currently accounts for $24.7 million; that number would slightly decrease to $22.7 million in dead cap money if he's traded or released prior to June 1, and result in $15.8 million in savings if he's traded or released after June 1.

As things stand, the Saints and Thomas are marching to the beat of the same drum entering next season.

While the forecast on Thomas looks more and more promising, the uncertainty surrounding who will be throwing him the ball remains a hot-button topic approaching the 2022 NFL Draft and a potentially explosive offseason of QB movement. The Allen era figures to be one teeming with possible scenarios in the weeks and months ahead.

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