Where Michael Thomas ranks among Saints’ top-10 receiving leaders

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We’re still a couple of weeks away from the start of New Orleans Saints training camp, and expectations are building up for Michael Thomas. He’s missed most of the last two years with an ankle injury that’s been frustrating for all involved, and everyone — Thomas, the team, and their fans — are hoping to put it behind them. He’s got a great opportunity in front of him to not just remind all of his competition around the NFL just how talented he is, but to get back to work on putting his stamp on New Orleans’ record books.

To that end, where does he rank right now, and how far can he progress this season? Thomas is kind of locked into the No. 4 spot with 5,950 career receiving yards, trailing Joe Horn (7,622) by a healthy margin. He would need to put up at least 1,673 yards this year to climb higher, which is a tall order — Thomas has only beaten that total once in his NFL career, when he won Offensive Player of the Year recognition with a league-leading 1,725-yard output in 2019, when he and Drew Brees were working at the height of their powers.

He would have to do more than return to form to go the distance. Thomas would need to average at least 98.4 yards per game for a full season while working with a quarterback he’s only caught one pass from (a 12-yard gain in 2020’s San Francisco 49ers game; Jameis Winston targeted Thomas five times, with three passes falling incomplete and another broken up by the defense).

That’s quite a challenge, and we haven’t even gotten into the competition for targets Thomas will be feeling from Jarvis Landry, Chris Olave, and Alvin Kamara this year. It’s tough for his personal numbers, but that’s a great problem for the Saints to manage. At the end of the day it’s in their best interests for Winston to be flooded with weapons. Hopefully Winston is able to get more out of Kamara this year; the perennial Pro Bowler clocks in at No. 11 in the franchise record books with 3,263 receiving yards, and needs 496 yards this year to get into the top-10. He finished the 2021 season with just 439 yards, having picked up a meagre 256 of them through the first seven games with Winston at the helm.

So what about the other players in the record books? Let’s survey the Saints’ all-time receiving leaders:

WR Quinn Early (1991-1995): 3,758 receiving yards

George Rose/Getty Images

TE Hoby Brenner (1981-1993): 3,849 receiving yards

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WR Lance Moore (2006-2013): 4,281 receiving yards

Chris Graythen/Getty Images

WR Devery Henderson (2004-2012): 4,377 reciving yards

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TE Jimmy Graham (2010-2014): 4,752 receiving yards

Chris Graythen/Getty Images

WR Danny Abramowicz (1967-1973): 4,875 receiving yards

Manny Rubio-USA TODAY Sports

WR Michael Thomas (2016-Present): 5,950 receiving yards

Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

WR Joe Horn (2000-2006): 7,622 receiving yards

Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

WR Eric Martin (1985-1993): 7,854 receiving yards

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WR Marques Colston (2006-2015): 9,759 receiving yards

AP Photo/Brian Blanco

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