A Professional Lacrosse Player Could Replace Michael Thomas in the New Orleans Saints’ Starting Lineup

Typically, the idea of the New Orleans Saints signing Chris Hogan in the wake of Michael Thomas’ ankle issues wouldn’t draw too much attention.

If you’ll remember, Hogan won two Super Bowls with Tom Brady and the New England Patriots. He’s an experienced receiver who saw action with the New York Jets last year, so what’s the big deal? Well, this isn’t exactly a normal transaction involving a veteran wideout.

Chris Hogan signed with the New Orleans Saints amid Michael Thomas’ ankle issues

It’s not uncommon for players to put their jobs aside if they get an opportunity to sign with a team. Those NFL free agents need to provide for their families, whether it’s working at a gym or delivering food.

Hogan, who turns 34 in October, put his other career on hold. He’s spent the last few months playing midfield in the Premier Lacrosse League. Yes, you read that right.

However, the Saints need Hogan’s gloves for catching footballs instead of holding a stick. Thomas, who recorded an NFL-record 149 catches in 2019, is expected to miss the start of this season after he had ankle surgery in June.

Ankle injuries limited Thomas to seven games in 2020. He hauled in 40 catches for 438 yards without a single touchdown during the regular season. He added five receptions, 73 yards, and a touchdown in two playoff games.

Hogan has 216 catches, 2,795 yards, and 18 touchdowns in 100 career games. He also recorded 34 receptions, 542 yards, and four touchdowns in nine playoff games with the Patriots.

Hogan was in his first season as a professional lacrosse player

Look, the two-sport athlete isn’t exactly a new concept. Herschel Walker ran for over 1,000 yards for the Philadelphia Eagles in 1992, only months after he participated in a two-man bobsled during the Winter Olympics. Tim Tebow is back in the NFL after he spent several years playing outfield in the New York Mets’ minor league system.

However, it’s rare now that an athlete would pause their professional career midseason in one sport to join another. In two games for the Whipsnakes this season, Hogan had one ground ball and a turnover.

Hogan began his first lacrosse season playing for the Cannons. However, the team included him in a three-player trade in July 2021.

Before reaching the NFL, Hogan played lacrosse at Penn State in the late 2000s and earned first-team All-Eastern College Athletic Conference honors after the 2009 season. He transferred to Monmouth University ahead of the 2010 season and spent the season playing football there.

Things are quickly going downhill for Thomas’ future with the Saints

The positive side of this story is Hogan making it back to the NFL after getting to fulfill his dream of playing professional lacrosse. No one can ever take his accomplishments, including the Super Bowl rings, away from him.

However, the downside is what is happening to Thomas ahead of his sixth NFL season. Ankle injuries can linger, especially for receivers, and has the potential player to sap players of their effectiveness. Thomas is a stellar route runner whose entire game is catching slant passes and turning them into long gains. The ankle injuries won’t help him in that regard going forward.

Thomas is not expected to return until October 2021 at the earliest. Keep in mind that even if he plays and starts against the Seattle Seahawks in Week 7, his presence on the field doesn’t mean he’ll be at full strength that night.

Remember, Thomas is still under contract for another three years after this season. His base salary jumps to $15.3 million in 2022, and that’s far from the price the Saints will want to play a receiver on the verge of turning 30 with serious ankle issues.

All of this would still be a problem had Thomas had the surgery earlier this year, but he’d at least have had a chance at being back to whatever is considered full strength by the start of the season. Instead, he went under the knife in June, and his losses could prove to be Hogan’s gain.

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