ProFootballDoc: With Latest Surgery, Michael Thomas' Career Is In Jeopardy

Saints wide receiver Michael Thomas is done for the season, but is his career over? The answer is maybe, and here is why: he now will have essentially missed the last three seasons after his toe surgery was announced.

Thomas originally injured his second toe on his right foot in Week 3. He then missed the next five weeks without hitting injured reserve, which carries a four-week minimum. Now his head coach, Dennis Allen, has announced a second toe surgery related to a dislocating joint, which carries a minimum three month recovery timeline -- effectively ending his season.

In my almost two decades of experience as an NFL head team physician, second toe surgery is unusual. I am not aware of the specifics here but big toe surgery is common while the other toes are rare. Over 50% of the push-off force in the foot comes from the big toe with minimal contribution from the other toes.

This is now the second time that Thomas has had delayed surgery under unusual circumstances. In 2021, he had left ankle surgery for a 2020 high ankle sprain which cost him all of the 2021 season.

Recovery from second toe surgery is typically routine and carries a good prognosis. However, in this case, one has to question if Thomas will return to full form or at all.

Any time a player misses two seasons, chances are high that his career is done. Even if one could return, the production is rarely at the same level. Of course, superstars will get more chances and attention.

His almost two year absence is why at Sports Injury Central, Thomas was issued a low season SIC score of 59 (out of 100) indicating limited effectiveness prior to this season.

Now, Thomas will essentially have missed his last three seasons and that is the bigger issue in whether he can return at all. If he does, it would seem unlikely to be at 2019 production levels. He does still have two years left on his five-year, $96 million contract.

We wish Thomas the best in his recover but the odds are against him and his days as a top WR in the NFL are likely done.

Written by
David Chao, MD -- known digitally as Pro Football Doc -- is an expert contributor for Outkick. Chao spent 17 seasons as the team doctor for the San Diego Chargers (1997-2013) and is part of the medical team at OASIS in San Diego where he treats and specializes in orthopedic sports injuries, working with high-profile professional athletes from the NFL, NBA, and MLB.