Today in sports history, New Orleans Saints wide receiver Michael Thomas broke the NFL’s single-season reception record. With his 144th catch of the season, Thomas broke Marvin Harrison’s 17-year old record. The Saints would go on to beat the Tennessee Titans, 38-28.
Michael Thomas: NFL Record Breaker | Today in Sports History
Before the 2019 season, the New Orleans Saints signed Thomas to a five-year, $100 million contract extension with $61 million guaranteed. The contract not only set the stage for Thomas to be the highest-paid receiver in the NFL, but it also opened the door for him to be relied upon more than arguably any other NFL receiver over the past decade.
In Week 16, Michael Thomas caught a pass from Drew Brees that passed former Colts receiver Marvin Harrison on the single-season reception leaderboard. In his historic 2019 campaign, Thomas had 10 or more receptions in nine games and over 100 receiving yards in 10 games. While he posted just over 11 yards per reception, his ability to get open quickly made him an easy target for future Hall of Fame quarterback Drew Brees.
Thomas finished the season with 149 receptions for 1,725 receiving yards and nine touchdowns. New Orleans finished the season with a 13-3 record. They won the NFC South and received the third seed in the NFC. Unfortunately, their season came to an abrupt end. Thomas caught just seven passes for 70 yards in a 26-20 NFC Wild Card defeat at home to the Minnesota Vikings.
Although Thomas seemed to be headed for a long and incredible career, his fall came much quicker than anticipated. In Week 1 of the 2020 season, Thomas suffered a high ankle sprain against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Thomas was supposed to be sidelined until Week 5. However, he was inactive for the game due to punching his teammate C.J. Gardner-Johnson in practice.
Thomas came back Week 9 and played through Week 13 with mixed results. Not once did he cross double-digit receptions and only twice had more than 100 receiving yards in six games. Due to a recurring ankle injury, Thomas was placed on injured reserve for the rest of the regular season. In two playoff games that year, he had just five receptions for 73 yards and one touchdown.
This past summer, it was revealed that Thomas decided to wait to have ankle surgery. The surgery was much later than expected from the team which caused controversy. He later had a setback with the ankle injury and it was announced that he would not return.