I’m sure if you’re an NFL fan you’ve heard of New Orleans Saints receiver Michael Thomas. Since Thomas currently holds the NFL record by the most receptions by an NFL player through his first three seasons with 321, it’s no surprise the Michael Thomas jersey is a hit with not only fans of the New Orleans Saints, but for NFL fans everywhere.
High School and College Career
Thomas was ranked a four-star recruit by Rivals.com after posing a senior season consisting of 86 receptions, 1,656 yards, and 21 touchdowns at Taft High School in Woodland Hills California.
As a true freshman at Ohio State in 2012, Thomas appeared in eleven games and recorded three receptions for twenty-two yards before redshirting in 2013.
Despite entering 2014 as a backup, he soon took over the starting role and led the Buckeyes with 54 receptions. He also posted 799 yards and 9 receiving touchdowns. After posting similar numbers during his redshirt junior season (56 receptions, 781 yards, 9 touchdowns), Thomas declared for the 2016 NFL Draft.
The New Orleans Saints selected Thomas in the second round with the 47th overall pick, the sixth wide receiver selected. Prior to Week One of his rookie season, the Saints named Thomas a starter opposite wideout Brandin Cooks.
He recorded 6 receptions for 58 yards in his NFL debut.
Thomas solidified himself as a legitimate receiving threat during his rookie season, recording 92 receptions for 1, 137 yards, and 9 touchdowns.
After the Saints traded Cooks away to the New England Patriots, Thomas became the team’s number one receiver. He recorded 104 receptions in 2017, setting an NFL record for most receptions of any player over a two-season period with 196, surpassing Jarvis Landry’s previous record of 194. He was also named to his first Pro Bowl following the season.
In the 2018 season opener against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Thomas set a franchise record with 16 receptions for 180 yards and a touchdown as the Saints fell short in a 48-40 shootout.
His 16 receptions was also the most of any NFL player for a single game in the 2018 season.
Thomas set yet another record in Week 2 against the Cleveland Browns with 12 receptions, the most receptions of any player in NFL history through the first two weeks of the season with 28.
And yes, in Week 3, he set another NFL record with an additional 10 receptions, giving Thomas 38 receptions over the season’s first three weeks.
In Week 9, he set a Saints’ franchise record for receiving yards with 211 in a 45-35 shootout over the eventual NFC Champion Los Angeles Rams. During a 72-yard touchdown reception, Thomas paid tribute to former Saints wideout Joe Horn, pulling an old flip phone from under the goal post and pretending to make a call.
Thomas finished the 2018 season with 125 receptions, 1,405 yards, and 9 touchdowns.
His accolades in 2018 included leading the league in receptions and finishing sixth in receiving yards. He set a new franchise record for receiving yards, passing Joe Horn’s previous mark of 1,399 yards.
The Future is Bright
While Saints’ quarterback Drew Brees would top the Face of the Franchise, I wanted to place Thomas ahead due to the fact he began his career in New Orleans and if he stays on the straight and narrow, which I don’t doubt, may become the most decorated player in Saints’ history.
Jerry Rice holds the NFL record with 1,549 career receptions after a 20-season playing career. Thus, far, Thomas is on pace to record over 2,000 receptions if he keeps this pace and plays as long as Rice did. It would take Thomas just under 15 seasons to break Rice’s record.
Thomas’ Face of the Franchise value drops in the eyes of many sports writers and journalists due to his playing position, but in terms of production he is by far the most valuable player for the New Orleans Saints.